Today, I’m delighted to announce Acquire is partnering with BetaList to help founders sell their startups. A leading voice of the bootstrapped entrepreneur, BetaList gives early adopters a peek at new and pre-launch tech startups and founders’ feedback on their latest creations. BetaList now closes the loop from discovery to exit with Acquire – a free and private acquisition marketplace.
“Ever since I discovered Acquire I’ve been recommending it to friends. When I eventually spoke with Andrew, it turned out we have a similar philosophy,” said Marc Köhlbrugge, BetaList’s founder. “It made sense to formally work together.”
Fewer than 1% of startups ever become unicorns, making entrepreneurship a numbers game. Founders should build, learn, and move on to new projects, skewing the odds of a life-changing acquisition in their favor. But standing in their way is the cumbersome acquisition process. A beast that makes small but noble achievements, those $25k-$500K acquisitions that rarely make frontpage of Fortune, feel like a desperate slog.
Brokers want 10-15% of the purchase price, there’re mountains of due diligence, and the buyer can walk away at any time. With such a precarious path to exit, who can blame entrepreneurs for holding out longer, waiting for that mouthwatering offer that makes all the effort worthwhile? But as the world changes, new threats emerge – maturing markets, new competitors, changing technology, and so on – that could harm valuations and put the brakes on entrepreneurial careers.
I founded Acquire to fix the troubled acquisition landscape, to create the conditions in which true entrepreneurship can thrive. It’s an online marketplace of profitable, vetted startups where buyers and founders can meet, chat, and share information privately and securely. There are no huge 10-15% commission fees from brokers, no middlemen, and all listings are anonymous – the perfect place to start those conversations that lead to a sale.
BetaList helps startups go from discovery to exit
BetaList began in 2010 with some introspection. Founder Marc Köhlbrugge, a serial entrepreneur from the Netherlands, found early-release builds of his products usually did better than those that remained offline until they were finished. This got Marc thinking: would helping other founders share betas with early adopters foster entrepreneurship? With Pinterest, IFTTT, and Airtable all debuting on BetaList pre-launch, the answer was a resounding yes.
Today, BetaList boats over 25,000 early adopters and currently lists thousands of makers. Its growth is due, in part, to keep things simple. To list, you must run a tech startup, be in private beta, and have a unique, customized landing page for signups (no templates). You submit the details of your startup, media (screenshots and such), team profiles, and then BetaList reviews your application. Once cleared, your startup will appear on the homepage. If it’s really special, it might also get featured, meaning your startup stays on top for longer. While discovery often leads to a boost in signups and inbound traffic, the real benefit, Marc argues, is feedback.
“What makes a great founder isn’t always what makes a great CEO. The people who are talented at starting new things aren’t always the same people who can make it grow. ” Marc said. “So for those people, selling their business might be a great way to get back to the thing they love: building new businesses.”
Selling should be easy for bootstrapped SaaS founders
Bootstrapped founders often learn the most. Without venture capitalists or boards breathing down their necks, they have more control. They build businesses their own way, learning from their mistakes as they go, and emerge with a broader range of expertise they can apply to new companies. But exits prove challenging for many, which puts entrepreneurial careers on hold.
In 2010, I founded Bizness Apps with little money, experience, or qualifications. I was still in college, broke but brimming with ideas. Fast forward nine years and I’d grown the business to $10M ARR. We featured in Inc. Magazine Fastest Growing Companies two years in a row (#58 and #91). I then sold the business to private equity firm ESW capital in a life-changing deal that let me move on to build two new companies, one of which was also Acquired.
Even after selling, there were moments where I’d ask, “Should I have sold sooner?” Extrinsic forces can flip your business upside down in a heartbeat, so founders need exit points that free them from becoming too attached to their own ideas. I was lucky to sell when I did but not all founders have the same opportunity – especially those of a smaller size
This is where Acquire can help. Attractive startups shouldn’t have to be huge startups. Revenue is important, but it’s equally important to have acquisition conversations early. Until now this has been prohibitively difficult for small, scrappy startups. But with Acquire and BetaList now working together, small SaaS startups generating under $500,000 in annual recurring revenue will have the exit opportunities I never had.
Our goal is to help entrepreneurs start conversations with qualified buyers. We do all of this free, anonymously, and without costly middlemen. Simple as that. And if that sounds like something you’d love to be a part of, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you and get your input on how to make Acquire the #1 startup acquisition market in the world.