Greg Romanzo and his partners spent 17 years growing a freight forwarding business. As the company expanded to 200 employees, the partners faced a realization: their decisions now impacted 200 families. This responsibility became overwhelming, and they decided to sell.
Chip Conley built the world's second largest boutique hotel chain to 3500 employees, but after a near death experience, Chip realized he wanted out. Chip went on to become Airbnb’s Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy, where he mentored co-founder Brian Chesky. Conley went on to create MEA -- the Modern Elder Academy -- the world's first ‘midlife wisdom school'.
Jason Cohen is the founder of both SmartBear and WP Engine, both companies that have achieved a valuation of more than $1 billion, making them “unicorns” in the parlance of Silicon Valley. This is our first installment in a series we’re referring to as Legends of the Deal, which will chronicle the life lessons of extraordinary achievers in the world of value building.
Josh Anhalt started GreenPath Energy in 2007 to help oil and gas companies detect methane leaks in their pipes. Over the years, Josh tried and failed to sell his company three times only to have each deal thwarted for a different reason. By 2023 GreenPath was generating more than $8 million in revenue when they finally agreed to be acquired by a competitor for around 7 times EBITDA, 90% of which was paid in cash with the balance paid in stock of the acquirer.
Chad Maghielse treats his two French bulldogs like family. When their breath turned foul, he invented a dog breath spray. Within three years, he was making over $2 million in online pet product sales at a 35% profit margin. Then he sold his business.
Jay B Sauceda built a logistics company that helped brands like Howler Brothers ship online orders. At their peak, Sauceda's company had a 150,000 square foot warehouse, 150 employees and was on track to hit $14 million in annual sales when a fateful meeting at an industry conference led Cart.com to make an acquisition offer Sauceda couldn't refuse.
This week, we continue our series called Inside the Mind of an Acquirer. We started this special series of interviews with acquirers because we want you to understand the perspective of the person across from you in a negotiation to buy your business. This week, we sat down with Bakari Akil, who has acquired two $30 million businesses and now teaches Cornell MBA candidates about entrepreneurship through acquisition.
Mark Ferrier founded the marketing agency TRAFFIKGROUP and grew it to over $2M in EBITDA before agreeing to be acquired by the private equity group Onex in an eight-figure exit. Mark decided to sell when a friend revealed that most founders end up wishing they had sold 50% sooner for 25% less.
Mark Ferrier built the marketing agency TRAFFIKGROUP to more than $2 million of EBITDA before it was acquired by the private equity group Onex in an eight-figure exit. In this first of a two-part interview, Mark shares the story of how he got started in the marketing agency world and how a rift with his former partners left him on the wrong end of a $2 million lawsuit.
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 Thomson 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.