When Jon Cross founded Pondera Solutions in 2011, his goal was to reduce fraud in U.S. government programs like Medicaid and Unemployment Insurance. By 2020, Cross and his partners had built Pondera to more than $9 million in annual recurring revenue when they received an offer from Thompson Reuters for a reported $124 million.
In 2017 Lloyed Lobo and his partner, Alex Popa, founded Boast, a software application designed to simplify the process of applying for research and development tax credits. The bootstrapped company struck a chord with customers that found the process of applying for R&D tax credits cumbersome. By 2020 Lobo and Popa had built Boast to more than $5 million in revenue when they agreed to a $23 million majority recapitalization from Radian Capital.
At the age of 41, Rob Walling sold Drip, an email marketing software for enough money that he "would never have to work again".
His only problem? Figuring out what to do next.
In this special edition of Built to Sell Radio, we explore how to re-define your purpose and find happiness and fulfillment after you exit your business
Sarah Dusek and her husband started Under Canvass, which offered large-scale tented hotels (think “glamping”) outside national parks around the U.S.
The business got off to a successful start, and within five years, Dusek had four locations, which were collectively generating $3 million in EBITDA. Rather than sit still, Dusek decided she wanted to grow much larger and raised $16 million of capital made up of a combination of equity and mezzanine debt at a rate of 13%, which Dusek personally guaranteed.
The stress of having her entire net worth tied to her business eventually caught up to Dusek, and she decided to sell a majority stake of her business to a private equity group (KSL Capital). Dusek rolled 25% of her equity and stayed on as CEO. By the time she stepped down from her leadership role, Under Canvass was worth more than $100 million.
In 2015, Michia Rohrssen co-founded a SaaS business called Prodigy to help car dealerships sell online. He grew the company to $3.3M in annual revenue when he faced a difficult decision.
Rohrssen thought he could sell Prodigy for around 4-6 times revenue, but after paying off his investors, there wouldn’t be much left over for the founders. That’s when he decided to make a risky pivot to his business model. The change meant a short-term drop in Prodigy’s revenue, while also making it more attractive to strategic acquirers. Ultimately Rohrssen and his co-founder sold the smaller version of his company for a staggering $110 million, or around 65 times revenue.
Casey Cavell has plenty of party stories: he dropped out of college to become a professional poker player, tried his hand (successfully) at buying self-storage facilities and apartment complexes, and eventually found his way to the business of baseball. More specifically, a franchised baseball academy for 5-10 year olds that he grew to five locations.
Cavell essentially managed two exits from his D-BAT Academy franchises, first selling 66% of the business at a value of $1.5 million and then unloading his remaining equity at a $10 million valuation.
In 2017, Amman Ahmed founded MusicForPets, which launched the YouTube channels "RelaxMyDog" and "RelaxMyCat." Th ese channels aim to alleviate pets' anxiety, whether due to stress or their owners' absence.
Under Ahmed's leadership, the channels amassed over 2 million subscribers and generated a 7-figure profit, largely because of effective SEO. As the business saw a surge in paid monthly website subscribers, it garnered the interest of California-based hip-hop label, Create Music Group, which extended a lucrative 8-figure offer that Ahmed couldn't turn down.
In 2006, Chad Rubin built Skubana, a tool specifically designed to streamline the operation of his e-commerce store across diverse channels. Sensing the software's potential, Rubin decided to offer Skubana to other online store owners.
The platform rapidly resonated with e-commerce entrepreneurs, accumulating $5 million in annual recurring revenue by 2021. The company’s success drew the interest of prospective buyers, eventually culminating in an irresistible offer from 3PL Central, a premier provider of warehouse management software.
In 2014, Alex Macdonald co-founded Velocity Black, a global digital concierge service for affluent clients. Unlike the basic concierge services of some credit cards, Velocity Black leverages technology and expert knowledge to curate personalized services such as travel, entertainment, shopping, and dining, accessible directly from your phone.
By 2022, the business had expanded to $30 million in net revenue, attracting attention from potential buyers including Capital One which acquired Velocity Black for a reported $297 million.
TXG attracted the attention of Club Champion, the United States' largest club fitting company with more than 100 locations.
In 2017, Chris Mole, based in the UK, founded Molzi, a full-service digital marketing agency catering to Amazon sellers. As pioneers in the field, the company witnessed significant growth. By 2020, amidst the lockdown-fueled e-commerce boom, Molzi doubled its team size to over 70 employees and generated revenues exceeding £4.5 million.
In 2021, their success caught the eye of Brainlabs, who acquired Molzi, paying 75% of the purchase price upfront and committing the remaining 25% to an earn-out agreement.
In 2013, Paul Johnson founded Lemonaid Health, one of the first digital healthcare platforms designed to offer virtual medical consultations and prescription services online.
While the company got off to a slow start, the pandemic accelerated the adoption of online healthcare. By the end of 2021, Lemonaid had agreed to be acquired by the DNA testing outfit 23andMe, for $400 million of cash and stock.
In 2009, Steve Reardon sold Peldon Technologies, a company he founded which provided pharmacies and retailers with photo printers and multifunctional kiosks. Following his departure, Reardon developed a passion for running businesses, a path that ultimately led him to venture into acquisitions.
Now, Reardon serves as the CEO of Alpine Software Group (ASG), a branch of Alpine Investors. ASG's main objective is to acquire companies that specialize in vertical Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions.
This week on Built to Sell Radio, we're excited to feature a special episode with clinical psychologist, speaker, and author, Dr. Sherry Walling. Dr. Walling is renowned for her work with entrepreneurs, aiding them in navigating the mental and emotional hurdles of building and exiting a company.
In 2014, Mark Wright, who won BBC's The Apprentice, used the $250,000 prize to co-found Climb Online, a digital marketing agency, in collaboration with business tycoon, Lord Sugar.
Their collective reputation and expertise in the industry enabled the digital agency to flourish, eventually becoming one of the largest in the UK, with a workforce of 130 employees at its height. In 2022, Climb Online achieved a significant milestone as it was acquired by xDNA, a global digital agency group, for a value that amounted to 9.5 times its EBITDA. This acquisition marked the first successful business exit for a participant in The Apprentice.
After a 23-year journey building Non-Linear Creations into a marketing giant with more than 120 employees, Randy Woods sold it in 2017 to Valtech. Valtech is a distinguished digital agency offering marketing, digital technology, and business transformation consulting services.
Post-sale, Woods now serves as the SVP of Strategic Growth Opportunity at Valtech, a role dedicated to identifying potential acquisitions for the business. In the latest installment of Built to Sell Radio’s Inside the Mind of an Acquirer series, we sit down with Woods.
In 2011, Tyler Smith, one of the top three real estate agents in California, launched SkySlope, a software platform that enables real estate professionals to efficiently manage their transactions, documents, and communication in one centralized system.
Smith successfully bootstrapped the company to around $12 million in annual recurring revenue by 2016, attracting significant attention from potential acquirers. Among the interested parties, Fidelity National Financial emerged as the ideal fit, acquiring 67% of SkySlope in a deal valuing the company at over $80 million.
In 2017, Miles Faulkner partnered with Martin Cleaver to establish Blended Perspectives, a reseller specializing in Atlassian products, which offer software solutions for large teams.
To distinguish themselves from other resellers, Faulkner devised an innovative product that set them apart from other Atlassian resellers.
By 2022, Blended Perspectives had achieved approximately $30 million in revenue. Recognizing an impending industry consolidation, Faulkner made the strategic decision to sell to Contegix, a competing Atlassian distributor, for a multiple far better than what a typical reseller usually fetches.
Josh Abramson has an impressive track record of building valuable companies. In 1999 Abramson started CollegeHumor.com and before he could even graduate, Abramson had received an offer of $9 million for the website. Abramson went on to start the popular video-sharing website Vimeo and apparel company BustedTees.com selling his collection of companies to Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp for a reported $20 million in 2006.
After a short stint reporting to Diller, Abramson left IAC and started TeePublic, an innovative online marketplace that serves as a platform for artists and designers to showcase and sell their distinctive designs on a wide range of products, including t-shirts and hoodies.
With Abramson at the helm, TeePublic grew to $41 million in revenue and $4.5 million in EBITDA before he decided to sell to RedBubble in a $41 million deal, $36 million of which was in cash.
In 1998, Lori Morton founded AerieHub, a customizable mobile app that helps facility managers efficiently control building information and operations, including compliance records, blueprints, and employee training.
Morton onboarded industry giants such as Netflix, Michelin Tires, GE, Bosch, and others reaching over $1 million in annual recurring revenue. Thanks to a rigorous onboarding process and exceptional customer service, Morton lost only two clients in 24 years.
In 2022, JDM Technology Group acquired AerieHub in a lucrative 100% cash upfront deal.
In 2017, Gamal Codner established Fresh Heritage, an e-commerce company that created grooming products specifically for men of color.
Codner grew Fresh Heritage quickly with Facebook ads and online reviews, but relying solely on paid customer acquisition almost bankrupted the company. Codner introduced a subscription program and turned one-time customers into automatic repeat purchasers, dramatically increasing the lifetime value of a customer.
As a result, Fresh Heritage's revenue skyrocketed to over $4 million. In 2022, BRANDED, a leading global operator of digital-first consumer brands, acquired Fresh Heritage from Codner.
In 2008, Brandon Lazar started A+ Gutter & Window Cleaning, servicing homeowners in British Columbia, Canada. Lazar successfully bootstrapped the business, generating nearly $1.5 million in revenue before being approached by an acquirer.
Lazar sold A+ Gutter & Window Cleaning to a private buyer in 2023 for approximately 3.5 times EBITDA, without an earn-out.
In 2016 Susanne Klepsch launched Meetfox, a scheduling and video calling solution that helps service professionals manage and monetize their time.
By 2021 Meetfox had acquired a user base of 25,000. As Klepsch observed competitors being acquired by large software companies, she recognized the need to partner with a major player to compete effectively with Calendly. Consequently, she initiated a merger and acquisition process, reaching out to over a hundred companies, including the venture-backed, all-in-one marketing software Sendinblue. Eventually, Sendinblue made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.
In his role as an acquirer, Kevin McArdle has purchased 45 businesses, including three from former Built to Sell Radio guests.
In 2013, Dan Reich and his partners founded TULA, a digitally native, probiotics-infused skincare line.
Reich bootstrapped TULA to around $10 million in annual revenue when he realized he needed to replace himself as CEO.
The company thrived under professional management, and by 2022, TULA had achieved revenue of over $100 million and received an acquisition offer from Procter & Gamble.