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.
In 2016, Jeremy Parker co-founded Swag.com to offer branded promotional products for businesses. Parker and his team developed a powerful online platform that enables customers to order products through their unforgettable website.
Thanks to Swag.com's innovative approach and memorable domain name, the company generated $30 million in revenue by 2020. However, when Parker began to explore acquisition offers, potential buyers viewed Swag.com as just a distribution company, which is typically valued in low single digits of EBITDA.
Fortunately, Parker met the founder of Custom Ink, who recognized that Swag.com was more than just a traditional promotional products business - it was a technology company.
Microsoft's recent announcement about integrating OpenAI's features into Microsoft 365 serves as a prime example of how finding a strategic acquirer for your company can bring significant benefits.
In this special edition of Built to Sell Radio, we will explore five reasons why larger businesses acquire smaller ones and provide tips on how to make your company more attractive to potential strategic acquirers.
In 2011, Tammer Kamel launched Quandl, a company that provided investors with data designed to give them a competitive trading edge. For example, Quandl offered subscriptions that let investors access private jet flight information for public companies as a predictor for M&A activity.
By 2018, Quandl had grown to 75 employees. Kamel saw industry giants entering the space, but knowing the time and capital investment it would take to build a competitive offering, he believed they would prefer to acquire Quandl.
Kamel began shopping the business around, and shortly after, Nasdaq acquired Quandl for a life-changing sum.
Kyle Scott launched Crossing Broad, a Philadelphia sports blog, in 2009. His irreverent and edgy writing style gained a significant following among Philly sports fans, resulting in thousands of daily readers. However, it wasn't until the 2018 Supreme Court ruling lifted the ban on sports betting in the US that the business flourished.
To capitalize on the ruling, Scott merged Crossing Broad with Warwick Gaming into CBWG, which owned and operated several popular sports and gambling websites. The company instantly became the largest independently owned US sports betting affiliate marketing network, generating $5 million in annual revenue.
In 2020, Ten months after joining forces, XLMedia acquired CBWG for $12 million in cash, $8 million worth of XLMedia shares, and the potential for another $9.5 million tied to a three-year earn-out.
In 2013 Mac Lackey licensed the FC Barcelona name to offer soccer camps and immersion trips to young athletes in the United States.
Lackey grew the business to over $10 million in revenue before accepting a lucrative buyout offer that included various desirable benefits for sports fans.
In 2015, Brad Lorge founded Premonition, a technology company that offers logistics software to streamline a company’s delivery operations. Rather than the traditional approach of financing their start-up through rounds of dilutive funding, Lorge asked his customers to pre-pay, allowing the founding team to retain 80% of the equity in their business.
By March 2022, Premonition had grown to $3 million in Annual Contract Value (ACV) which is when it was acquired by Shippit for $20.5 million -- an implied valuation of just under 7 times ACV.
Rachel Elsts Downey is the founder of Share Your Genius, a podcast production company that has been helping businesses increase their brand visibility since 2017. Over the years, Share Your Genius has grown into a successful business, generating $500,000 in revenue by 2021.
That’s when Downey was approached by one of her clients with an offer to acquire her business. The client wanted to hire Downey and saw the acquisition of Share Your Genius as the best way to recruit her. After some deliberation, Downey accepted the offer and agreed to be "acquihired". This deal valued Share Your Genius in the mid-six figures and provided Downey with cash for her business, a secure salary, bonuses, and some equity in the acquiring company.
In 2003, Ron Holt founded Two Maids & a Mop, a residential cleaning business. Thanks to an innovative employee bonus plan, Holt was able to grow his business to 12 company-owned locations.
That’s when a random encounter with Fred DeLuca, the founder of Subway, changed Holt’s life forever. Deluca gave Holt the inspiration and a roadmap for franchising his business which Holt used to grow Two Maids & a Mop from 12 to 91 locations across the United States and $40 million in revenue.
In 2021, eager to pursue the next chapter in his life, Holt began exploring selling Two Maids & a Mop. A short time after, JM Family Enterprises acquired the business in a lucrative deal valued at well over ten times EBITDA.
Sam Parr founded the Hustle, a media company that delivers business and tech news to millennials in an engaging and relatable way, in 2015. The business was an instant hit with readers, generating millions of page views in only a few months.
By 2020 Sam Parr had grown the Hustle to $15 million in revenue, attracting the attention of tech giant HubSpot. A few months later, the tech conglomerate acquired the Hustle in a lucrative eight-figure deal.
In 2016, Derek Morin founded Tabarnapp to create after-market sales applications for Shopify website owners. The company was an instant hit generating more than 1,000 paid customers in its first few months after launching on the Shopify platform.
In 2020, Morin acquired one of his partners' stake in Tabarnapp, valuing the company at $400,000. Two years later, Morin sold Tabarnapp for a much higher price, implying a tenfold increase in the company's value.
In 2012, Spencer Thompson founded Sokanu, a career assessment platform aimed at replacing the outdated assessments that existed at the time. Sokanu’s “Career Explorer” quickly became one of North America's most prominent assessment tools and was adopted by the U.S. Government and top colleges around the world.
The assessments were a huge hit with job seekers, yet Thompson struggled to generate sales. Rather than fix his revenue model, Thompson looked for an acquirer who would value his enormous user base. Soon after, Sokanu received a lucrative acquisition offer from Penn Foster, an online educational institute.
In 2011, Perry Rosenbloom started the web development company, Brighter Vision. After a few years of jumping from project to project, Rosenbloom had a breakthrough. Instead of doing web design for everyone, he decided to focus on creating websites exclusively for therapists.
His decision to niche down worked as revenue soared.
By 2020, Rosenbloom had thousands of customers and millions in sales, which was when Evercommerce made an offer to acquire Brighter Vision for $17.5 million.
In 2016, Marc Lafleur started truLOCAL, a subscription business allowing people to buy locally-raised meats online.
To ignite sales, Lafleur and his co-founder pitched the company on the popular Canadian TV show Dragon’s Den (similar to Shark Tank). The presentation was a hit as they received an investment of $100,000 from Dragon’s, Michele Romanow and Joe Mimran for 10% of the business.
As a result of their new partners and the free marketing that came from the show, revenues soared.
By 2020 truLOCAL had reached sales of eight figures when Lafleur began receiving interest from acquirers. A few months later, the company was acquired by EMERGE in a deal valued at $16.8 million.
In 2009 Simon Penson founded Zazzle Media, one of the first content marketing agencies in the U.K. Although the company was successful, Penson had difficulties winning large customer contracts due to the size of his agency.
To enhance his credibility, in 2015 he decided to merge Zazzle Media with Stickyeyes, which, at the time, formed the largest content marketing agency in the U.K.
Penson’s decision proved to be savvy.
This week on Built to Sell Radio, we highlight the top strategies from the 10 most popular shows of 2022.