I just sold emailtopdf.it - Here's what I learned!
I just sold my side-project. So many mistakes were made! If you’re selling your company or a side-gig, you should avoid these blunders. Here are the things I WISH I knew before starting the selling process.
Buyers, this article is also for you too! Learn what’s the best way to acquire a project and spend less time.
I’ll try to be as transparent as I can.
I just sold one of my side projects! Yay! 🍾 As most makers, I have started a dozen and even launched projects laying around that have potential. However, being too busy with my main project (Crypto Jobs List), I don’t have enough attention and “deep hours” to focus and bring them to their full potential. So I decided to sell the most promising one and the most “completed” of them. It’d free up my cognitive load, make some money, and give me a taste of what it’s like to sell a company.
Finding a buyer
When I started building Email To PDF, I posted about it on twitter. Naturally, when it was time to sell, I thought it’d be apt to post it on twitter as well (circle of life!!) The buyer was a friend of a friend who followed me on Twitter.
The founder of MicroAcquire, Andrew also reached out and I listed listed my project there. The platform has a slick UI. I got several requests. I replied to them all, however I got radio silice in return. Not sure if it is because the project wasn’t interesting, or whether MicroAcquire didn’t relay my messages well enough to potential buyers. To be honest, I feel it was the latter. Hope Andrew improves response rate from buyers. They are doing fantastic work overall — check them out!
- Most people want to know what’s the revenue and acquire just based on that.
- Few want to actually look into the potential and acquire based on the potential. Which is a lost opportunity to buy cheap and with potentially minimal additional efforts turn it into something profitable, working or even learn more about working with other people and how they build projects. Value of learning and new relationships can be massive.
For sellers, it is hard to tell serious buyers from people who just want to fish information or just waste your time, or both.
Advice for serious buyers — right in the 1st message be clear about who you are, why are you interested in buying and your initial questions. Otherwise you’ll risk being dismissed. Don’t startby offering to jump on a call. Both sides should prescreen each other over email, DMs, before potentially wasting time scheduling a call.
In my case, the final buyer was a friend of someone who was initially considering an acquisition.
No matter the size of the deal, draft and sign a contract. If the deal is rather small for you personally, don’t stress out over every single line of it. But be clear and upfront about your concerns and requirements.Keep it short and to 1 page as much as possible. “Number of pages in a contract is inversely proportional to the trust between parties”. This is true. Warren Buffet does multi-billion dollar deals with 1 page contracts.Have clear timelines in the contract. Don’t make them too restrictive. Underpromise and overdeliver.
Money and valuation
If you are selling a small side project, do count in the time you’ll spend on the deal and transfer itself. But don’t sweat the price too much. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.
If you are in startups for a long run, and dream of selling your company for millions some day, consider selling something small first. As they say “Before you can bake a huge cake, start with cupcakes”. Practice selling small projects first. If you are a buyer, even if you have a ton of money, start by acquiring a simple project or business. The process is the same on the high level. Finding a buyer, negotiation, transaction, handover, post sale.
Handover process. (Technical tips)
- Schedule a technical handover session. Plan things in advance.
The most painful part was moving the domain name. Some TLD zones have their quirks. E.g. you can’t update nameservers and initiate a domain transfer at the same time. You won’t be able complete a domain transfer until the nameservers are updated. This was an unforeseen issue in my case. It is very frustrating and can definitely stress out the buyer side. Lesson:
- Try not to make any changes to nameservers (specifically) 48 hours prior to transition.
- Transfer the domain name first. Requires authorisation code. Transfer it in a secure way to the buyer. Do that while on a call with the other party.
- If you need to update nameservers (e.g. to switch cloudflare accounts), do that after the domain transfer. You’ll minimize delays, downtime and other potential interruptions that way.
- If you are using Cloudflare and would like to migrate your site from one account to another you have to first delete the site from your account. Only then you’ll be able to successfully update nameservers for the other account. — This is a very important nuance. I didn’t know that and it wasted me 3 days.
- We agreed on a few technical support sessions post acquisition, shall the questions arise. They have a timeline and a cap on the number of hours. This gives buyer insurance that they are not left with a black box on their hands.
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