Marc Elkman built Fresh Meal Plan, a meal delivery service for healthy eaters, from an idea to $20 million in annual revenue in just three years.
Still in his twenties, Elkman earned a # 70 spot on the Inc 500 list of fastest-growing companies in America. Then he caught the attention of New Heights Capital, a private equity group focused on the fitness industry. New Heights acquired the controlling interest in Fresh Meal Plan in 2016 and Elkman continues to hold a minority stake.
Over the last month, we've interviewed four fascinating guests on Built to Sell Radio.
John Warrillow shares the transferable lessons with you on Built to Sell Intel, a monthly live webinar hosted for our listeners.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz hosts this Q&A and asks for John's take on four successful exits.
Wes Mathews built High Level Marketing, a digital advertising agency, to $6.5 million in annual revenue. The business was thriving, but when COVID hit, Mathews started to question the risk he was shouldering employing 49 people. It was around that time that Mathews received an email that would change his life forever.
This week on the show, we tried something a little different.
Instead of interviewing an owner about their exit, we canvassed founders for their questions about building to sell and asked the host of Built to Sell Radio, John Warrillow, to answer them.
In this episode, John draws on his experience interviewing more than 300 founders on Built to Sell Radio to answer five essential questions.
Ben Leonard is a fitness enthusiast who found himself in bed with a heart problem in his early 20's (he's fit and healthy now). His doctors told him to rest. Said not to go to the gym, he cleared out his bag and noticed some of the accessories he used had worn out prematurely.
The experience sparked an idea. Leonard decided to launch a brand of fitness accessories made to last longer and cost less than the alternatives. He named his fledging company Beast Gear.
James Prebble co-founded Palladium Digital, a consultancy helping companies think about their digital strategy.
The company experimented with various business models until they landed on helping private equity groups get a return on their investments. Private equity groups hired Palladium to perform "digital due diligence" before they invested. Along with identifying any flaws in a target company's digital strategy, Prebble and his team were also asked to identify any untapped digital assets that, if adequately exploited, had the potential to transform the business being considered for investment. Discovering these so-called "Rembrandts in the attic" is what private equity groups often look for to jack up their return on investing in your business.
Andrew Gazdecki was born in Detroit and lost his father as a young boy. He and his Mom grew up using food stamps. In College, Gazdecki created an online marketplace for freelancers (think a tiny version of UpWork). He sold his online marketplace for $50,000 and said it "felt like a trillion dollars" at the time.
Back in 2013, on the heels of building a successful online dating application, Darrell Lerner decided to apply his experience in the dating industry to pet adoption. He built a website and mobile app called AllPaws which allows users to find a pet based on a variety of criteria important to people considering adopting an animal.
Jim Estill is one of the most successful entrepreneurs you've probably never heard of.
In 1975, Estill started EMJ Data, a technology distribution company, from the trunk of his car and grew it to $350 million in sales before taking it public.
Henry Hyder-Smith and Steve Denner started UK-based Adestra in 2004. Adestra is a digital marketing software that helps big companies handle email campaigns, among other things.
The company grew nicely. By 2016, it had around $9 million in revenue and a client list that featured some of the U.K.'s best companies. Hyder-Smith and Denner decided it was time to go beyond their borders and enter the U.S. and Asian markets. To fund the effort, they raised $7.2 million from the Business Growth Fund (BGF), one of the U.K.'s largest private equity groups. BGF's investment valued Adestra at around $35 million — a little shy of four times revenue.
Before Zoom, when you wanted to meet with a group of people remotely, you used a teleconferencing service. If you lived in Canada during the early 2000s, you probably used one of Frank Cianciulli's lines.
These days, you're just as likely to watch a football game on a mobile phone as you are on an old-school TV. The technology that enables you to watch your favorite show on whatever device you have handy was made possible by Jason Flick. Flick co-founded a company called You.i TV with a vision to "own the glass." He struck deals to provide the user interface, which enabled content to be viewed across devices with the likes of the NFL, NBA, and just about anyone else who produces original content.
In 2014, Adii Pienaar started an email marketing platform for retailers, which became Conversio. By 2019, Pienaar had $2 million in revenue and 14 employees.
In 2004, Cesar Quintero started Fit2Go, a meal delivery service in Miami. The business delivered healthy meals to office workers in South Florida, and by 2017, Fit2Go was earning 12% profit on $3 million in revenue. That’s when Quintero decided to sell half of his business based on a four times EBITDA valuation.
Mike Malatesta built Advanced Waste Services, a company that helped businesses dispose of their industrial waste, to $45 million in annual sales before a fateful lunch changed his life forever. It was with a division president of Covanta (NYSE: CVA) who saw acquiring Malatesta's company as the perfect way to enter the industrial waste industry.
Despite starting with just $10,000 in 2004, Jon Morris built Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency, to more than 100 employees before deciding to sell part of the business to Quad, a global marketing services provider.
At age 36, Greg Alexander decided to start Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales consultancy. Over the next eleven years, Alexander built the business to 30 employees who collectively generated about $30 million in consulting fees per year.
Pete Martin built EntryPoint Consulting to 34 employees when he sold it to KPMG for a staggering 12 times earnings — without an earn-out.
Jack Rivlin co-founded The Tab, a U.K. based media company that published digital campus newspapers across the U.K.
After ten years, The Tab had earned almost 6 million unique visitors and raised $10 million of capital from the likes of investors, including Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Things were looking up for The Tab, but when an attempt to crack the U.S. market failed, things started to unravel.
Ryan Daniel Moran built Sheer Strength, a supplements business, up to a run rate of around $10 million per year when he decided it was time to sell.
Saud Juman built PolicyMedical, a company enabling hospitals to document their procedures and policies, into a software company growing 100% a year when he sold it for 7.2 times revenue. It was a remarkable exit for a business Juman started in his mother’s basement.
Tyler Jefcoat co-founded Care to Continue, which provides in-home care for seniors, in 2012. Jefcoat built the company to more than 100 employees when he got an offer from a private equity group for more than five times EBITDA. Jefcoat was thrilled. The only problem? His partner wasn't ready to sell, which kicked off an acrimonious battle ending with Jefcoat selling his shares back to his partner.
Todd Kaufman and his partner Justin Searls started Test Double, a custom software development company, in 2011. The business was a success from the start and grew more than 25% a year. By 2019, Kaufman and Searls were generating more than $10 million in annual revenue and putting more than $3 million to the bottom line each year. An outside valuation consultant suggested if they ever wanted to sell, Kaufman and Searls could get around 6.5 times profit for their business or around $20 million.
In 2002, Lee Richter and her husband bought Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Northern California. Californians were embracing alternative medicine, and the Richter’s wondered if their affluent customers would invest in holistic therapies for their pets.
Mark Timm built Cottage Garden, a company selling decorative music boxes, to $8 million in revenue and around $1 million in EBITDA when he decided to sell it.
Timm sold the business for around 4.5 times EBITDA. He got half of his cash up front, with the other half paid over a five-year earn-out. Timm not only stayed for his earn-out, but when the acquirer decided to move the offices of Cottage Garden, Timm agreed to repurchase the business, only to sell it two years later, for a second time.