In 2013, Kate Field started The Kombucha Shop offering home-brew kits that people can use to make kombucha.
By 2018, the kombucha craze was in full swing and Field was invited to pitch her business on Shark Tank. Field asked for $350,000 in return for 10% of her company which was generating around $1.2 million per year selling kombucha kits. Field got an offer for $200,000 in cash and another $150,000 line of credit in return for 10% of her company from Barbara Corcoran and Sara Blakely, the Spanx founder who was a guest Shark that day.
Despite her success on television, a series of surprising events led Field to walk away from the Shark’s offer and sell The Kombucha Shop the following year. This episode is a raw account of the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial journey.
David Darmanin co-founded Hotjar, a software company that helps website developers and owners understand how their users interact with the sites they build.
Darmanin and his partners bootstrapped Hotjar to around $40 million in Annual Recurring Revenue before selling it in 2021.
David Perry co-founded Gaikai, a video game company that enables popular games like World of Warcraft and Call of Duty to be played on just about any device.
Perry raised $50 million through three rounds of funding and sold Gaikai for $380 million to Sony.
Anthony Fracchia built Altruis Benefit Consulting to $2.5 million in revenue when he started to get unsolicited calls from potential buyers. He initiated conversations with an acquirer only to learn they planned to gut his staff and kill his brand.
Rafael Zimberoff built ShipRush, an application that helps businesses streamline their technology, to 12 full-time employees when he sold it to Descartes for $14 million, plus a $3 million earn-out.
This week’s episode of Built to Sell Radio is the Intel edition. We focus on four recent guests and highlight the strategies that made their companies built to sell.
In 2013, Jon Claydon started Streamline Marketing to help brands manage their affiliate programs. Claydon bootstrapped his business to around 30 employees but avoided hiring for some senior roles in favor of doing much of the work himself.
Prantik Mazumdar and his business partner Rachit Dayal built Happy Marketer, a digital marketing agency, to more than $10 million in annual revenue before they decided to sell to Dentsu Aegis Network. Mazumdar and Dayal agreed to sell for around 7 times EBITDA, 40% of which was paid up front with the remainder available in a four-year earn-out tied to the future profitability of Happy Marketer.
Josh Delaney started FAB CBD, a CBD e-tailer, in 2017. Delaney's Mom was his first customer, but his sales quickly went beyond family members. By 2020, through a combination of savvy marketing and good fortune, FAB CBD had risen to more than $10 million in annual sales. In early 2021, Delaney caught the attention of High Tide, a Calgary-based cannabis company that offered him $13 million in cash plus $8 million High Tide shares in return for 80% of FAB CBD (an implied valuation of $25.8 million).
Ben Kellie got his start in the aerospace industry, helping Elon Musk figure out how to get his rockets to land on a floating barge without blowing up.
In 2015, Kellie left SpaceX to start The Launch Company, where they supply hardware parts and consulting to a growing list of new aerospace companies like SpaceX. Less than five years after starting, Kellie was approached by Voyager Space, a private equity-backed group rolling up new space companies.
Kevin Waldron built Olympic Restoration, a disaster recovery business, to $24 million in annual sales before he decided to sell. Helping homeowners clean up from a fire or a flood was a good business, but after 17 years, Waldron was tired of fighting with insurance companies over claims.
Nick Leighton started a marketing agency called NettResults with the idea of helping technology companies access consumers in the Middle East. Based in Dubai, Leighton built NettResults to around $2 million in revenue when he decided to sell.
Leighton attracted a number of offers including one from a much larger agency that wanted an office in the Middle East.
Leona Watson started Cheeky Food Events, where they offered companies cooking lessons as a team-building activity.
Over 17 years, Watson produced 3,000 events for more than 85,000 people. Watson hit $3 million in sales when she realized it was time for her to start thinking differently about her business.
With Built to Sell Radio, you’ve grown accustomed to hearing entrepreneur exit stories from A to Z, but this week’s episode is a little different. We tease out four transferrable lessons from the latest batch of guests.
Arleen & Ted Taveras had been growing their insurance consultancy for twenty years when they received an unsolicited acquisition offer for 12.5 times EBITDA.
It was a tempting offer from an industry stalwart, but Arleen & Ted wondered if they might be leaving money on the table.
Back in 1998, siblings Pete and Alexa Ingram-Cauchi started iD Tech to offer summer camps for kids who wanted to learn about computers.
The business grew each year and by 2019, was generating $70 million in annual sales hosting camps from Stanford to MIT and beyond.
Jay Gould co-founded Yashi, a platform that helped advertisers buy ads on video content. Yashi grew to more than $25 million in revenue and more than $5 million in EBITDA when Gould received an offer of $33 million from Nexstar Broadcasting. The offer represented around 6 x EBITDA and Gould was conflicted. He knew he could probably get more, but he had also seen how quickly a successful company can go to zero.
Andy Cabasso co-founded JurisPage, a marketing agency specializing in helping law firms in 2013.
Three years later, JurisPage had service contracts with more than 200 law firms when they got a call from Uptime Legal, an Inc. 5000 business specializing in technology and practice management software for law firms.
Mehul Sheth started VMS Aircraft in 1995 with a plan to sell spare parts to airlines. Sheth had just $25,000 to invest in inventory, so VMS got off to a modest start. However, by 2016 Sheth had crested $8 million in revenue. VMS counted some of the largest airlines in the world as customers.
Paul J. Farrell built Nehemiah Security, a software company that helped organizations understand and calculate the risks associated with a cyber-attack.
In just two years, the business grew to around $1.2 in Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) despite sales cycles of up to nine months.
Back in 2006, Michael Kaplan and his partners bought into a Zerorez Carpet and Living Surfaces Care franchise. The business was generating $300,000 in revenue and losing $40,000 a year.
By 2019, the company was generating $17 million in revenue when Kaplan and his partner had an irreconcilable dust-up which led to Kaplan triggering their shotgun partnership agreement.
In 2017, Justin Adams co-founded Digitize.AI to help hospitals get paid. They used artificial intelligence to get medical treatments pre-approved by insurance companies ensuring their patients could pay their medical bills.
The business was hungry for cash, and Adams and his wife put everything their young family had into the idea. At one point, Adams was so short of money that when their clothes dryer broke, the Adams family started hanging their laundry because they couldn’t afford the repair.
Cheryl Contee co-founded Attentive.ly along with Rosalyn Lemieux. Together, the partners offered a Software as a Service (SaaS) app that helped non-for-profit organizations perform “social listening”. Their offering was used by organizations to identify and drive engagement among their influencers.
By now, you're accustomed to hearing John Warrillow ask the tough questions.
Every month, we turn the tables and grill John on his favorite anecdotes and transferrable lessons from the latest batch of guests on Built to Sell Radio. In this episode, Dr. Jeremy Weisz gets John to reflect on what stood out, any missed opportunities, and how each story imparts the Built to Sell Methodology.
Michèle Hecken built Alpha Translations up to $4.4 Million (USD) in revenue and almost a million dollars in EBITDA before she sold it in 2019 for $6 million cash (6.7 x normalized EBITDA).
It was a fantastic exit for Hecken who got her start in University translating legal contracts from German to English.