Some buyers want the next big thing, while others simply want to turn a profit. Scott Fitsimones falls into the latter category. His ideal startup was a well-engineered, in-demand SaaS business he could scale. Two months into his Acquire.com search, he found it – overseas.
Notion2Charts checked all of Scott’s boxes. Paying customers. Solid product. A helpful and trustworthy founder. But the company was run by a solopreneur from Morocco. Could Scott justify buying an unincorporated business from an international seller?
Scott would have to incorporate Notion2Charts in the US to hire employees or protect himself from liability. Was this possible? How quick or easy would it be?
His industry connections led him to doola, a startup that helps launch US companies from anywhere in the world. Read on to learn how partnering with doola helps buyers like Scott expand their buyer pool to find the best deal.
An Uphill Climb to Find Product-Market Fit
Most high schoolers study for the SAT with flashcards and textbooks. Scott taught himself how to program an app so he could study digitally. “When other students downloaded it, I got this dopamine hit of, ‘Oh wow, if you build something, people will use it,’” Scott says.
Throughout the rest of high school and college, Scott continued building and launching mobile apps and games. One of his earliest games even helped him buy a used car. But he realized the thrill of releasing iPhone games was short-lived.
“When you release an iPhone app, it gets that initial bump of excitement, and then people stop downloading it and move on to the next thing,” Scott says. “I realized I should look into starting a business – something more sustainable and not just a one-off.”
Enter AirGarage. Scott started building the SaaS business in 2017 to help students and visitors at Arizona State University find parking. In six years, AirGarage has evolved from renting spaces in church parking lots to operating garages and parking lots for real estate owners.
Scott launched several other SaaS side projects while running AirGarage full-time. But focusing on his main business gave him less time to establish product-market fit with his new ideas.
“I realized that finding that initial product market fit is one of the hardest things to do when launching a business. I’ve launched maybe half a dozen side projects that have gotten some Twitter hype. But building something sticky requires laser-focus on solving a problem for your customer and iterating on your learnings,” Scott says. “You can get people’s attention on Twitter, but getting them to pay for your product is much harder.”
Scott’s solution was to acquire a company that had already done the launch legwork. Instead of investing countless hours and dollars into establishing product-market fit, he could acquire an existing business with paying customers.
“Running AirGarage has honed my ability to take a business from one to ten,” Scott says. “I’ve learned about scaling and know how to do marketing, Google Ads, and SEO well. So I thought, what if I could apply that to a clean slate startup? I wanted to see if I could transfer these skills to a different type of business.”
Converting an Acquisition Skeptic Into a Believer
Scott browsed the Acquire.com marketplace for businesses matching his acquisition criteria. He never expected to acquire a business abroad, but doola meant that he could incorporate in the US if he found one promising. Scott’s chances of finding the right fit never seemed better.
But it still took him two months to find the right business. For every potential startup he browsed, Scott asked himself hard questions to ensure it was a good match.
“I had a voice on my shoulder saying, ‘If people are listing their businesses, it must mean something’s wrong. Why would they sell something generating passive income?’” Scott says. “With that skepticism in my head, I studied each company wondering, what could go wrong here? What is the worst-case scenario?”
Notion2Charts was the only listing to allay those fears. On paper, it fit everything Scott wanted in a business: a strong infrastructure, loyal customers, and room to scale. Talking with its founder Farid Ouachrar only increased Scott’s excitement and interest in the deal.
“I realized everything has some degree of risk. There’s no perfect acquisition that checks every box. I was willing to take a risk on Notion2Charts because it’s a great product with well-written code serving a clear market need. And after meeting Farid on Zoom, I felt a lot of trust with him. That’s when I knew this was the one,” Scott says.
When Scott learned Notion2Charts was an unincorporated international business, he wanted reassurance the founder was legitimate. Farid’s social footprint and clear industry knowledge helped alleviate Scott’s fears of acquiring a dud startup.
“There’s some concern that if something goes wrong, someone could go off the grid. But our Zoom calls built a lot of trust, I verified his LinkedIn and social media, and he had a personal US bank account,” Scott says. “I became convinced that he was an honest, high-integrity guy.”
Scott and Farid settled on a five-figure number just below the asking price. After completing due diligence and signing the asset purchase agreement, the duo closed the deal in March 2023.
Now Scott just needed to ask doola to help form Notion2Charts into a US business.
How Doola Helps You Form Companies
Scott and doola go way back. Before doola launched in 2020, Scott met the founders and advised them on launching a business. Now, he was asking them for advice on setting up Notion2Charts as a limited liability company (LLC).
“I looked at a couple of different options for incorporating, and doola just made it super easy. They’re the modern startup version of the old-school ways of incorporating,” Scott says. “You could print and mail the documents to the state, but it’s more work. Doola optimized it, made it a very painless process, and made it easy to open a bank account right after I incorporated.”
Step 1. Decide What Business Type to Form
Sit down with a doola representative and decide what kind of business to form. Scott already knew he wanted an LLC route, not an S-corp or C-corp. But the rep advised him to incorporate in California instead of Delaware to avoid a fee for incorporating outside his home state.
Step 2. Upload Your Information
Once Scott entered all the information into the doola portal, doola sent the necessary paperwork to the IRS and other government agencies. He had an EIN (a tax identification number allowing him to run Notion2Charts in the US) within two weeks.
Step 3. Run Your Business
Scott opened a bank account with doola, and in less than a month, had transferred the business to the US. Now it was time to start implementing those growth strategies.
“With doola, there’s an opportunity to acquire international businesses and bring them to the US. Bringing a business to the US often helps with acquiring customers who typically have more discretionary spending, so US-based investors might be willing to value the company more,” Scott says.
Tripling MRR in Three Months
You could say Scott’s first (international) acquisition has paid off. Since acquiring Notion2Charts three months ago, he’s tripled the business’s monthly recurring revenue (MRR) and implemented half a dozen growth strategies.
Some of those strategies include product upgrades, improving customer retention, automated email flows, and “louder” social media marketing. He’s got more plans in the works to boost Notion2Charts’ revenue even more, including an official integration with Notion itself.
“Notion reached out at the perfect time and included Notion2Charts in their official Integrations Gallery. And as a part of that, they wanted to incorporate more charts and graphs in the Notion templates. So now we’re an official Notion integration,” Scott says.
He’s finally found the immediate product-market fit he aspired toward. Though initially skeptical of acquiring a business, Scott now appreciates how much he’s learned from the experience and from running Notion2Charts.
“It was a new challenge – could I apply the same skills I’ve been developing to a new business? Notion2Charts is more of a pure software business, and it’s all about online growth strategies. It’s cool that the Notion community is enthusiastic about the product,” Scott says.
“Many times you could build something and find out no one cares. But when building something in the Notion ecosystem, you have a lot of people who care.”
Without Acquire.com and doola, Scott might never have tested his scaling skills in a new industry. And Farid might never have seen his business integrated into a software giant. But being open to an international acquisition and working with doola and Acquire helped both founders achieve their acquisition dreams.
“Especially with SaaS businesses, the location or where the business was created shouldn’t impact your ability to buy and grow it,” Scott says.
Who knows? Your next acquisition could be half a world away – and now you have the tools to pursue it.
As a result of Scott’s story, Acquire.com and doola have teamed up to create the most founder-friendly experience from “I’ve got an idea” to “exit”. Both ends of the spectrum presents a traditionally time-consuming, stressful, and hard to navigate process:
- The starting a business part.
- And the getting acquire’d part.
Starting today, all buyers and sellers from Acquire.com are eligible for 15% off any business formation or tax services offered by doola.
And for all doola business owners looking for the easiest and quickest way to sell your online business, Acquire.com’s got your back. Sign up and we’ll guide you through the entire acquisition process and help you get the best offer from the biggest qualified buyer pool on the market.