If You Love Something, Let It Go: How Nour Shaaban Found the Perfect Home for His Attachment Therapy Startup

In 2022, Nour Shaaban’s anxious attachment style contributed to a bad breakup. 

Instead of wallowing in grief, Nour studied how to cure his anxiety problems and then built a startup to help others do the same, later selling the business on Acquire.com for over $1 million.

Though Nour is only 27, the sale wasn’t his first million-dollar check. While growing up in Lebanon, he became obsessed with making money on the internet. Starting with small programs to hack promotional games on Facebook, he graduated to content creation and finally earned over $1 million per year as an affiliate marketer.

Almost as soon as Nour had earned his money, he lost most of it in the 2020 Lebanese banking crisis. He later pieced together his savings from a fortunate $50,000 investment in Bitcoin that reached a valuation of $750,000. Even after his close save, he ended up shuttering another business because Stripe stopped transferring payments to Lebanon.

Through all of these hardships, Nour stayed the course and validated a profitable business. And with the help and guidance of Acquire.com, he sold it to a kindred spirit for a highly competitive price. Read on to hear how Nour coped with a roller coaster startup career and why he sold his business while it was near its peak.

From Rags to Riches…Twice

Nour has always possessed an uncanny ability to make money. His first brush with entrepreneurship was in high school in 2014 as a 16-year-old. Alongside his friends, he would hack promotional games on Facebook for prizes.

“There were all these games on Facebook that companies created as a marketing gimmick,” he says. “You’d win some cool stuff like a phone or a trip somewhere.”

Nour and a friend created a tool called Cheat Engine that let them edit their scores on Flash games to win prizes like tickets to Dubai. Adolescent Nour was unaware of the potential legal ramifications of these actions as a child. He just saw dollar signs.

“It opened my eyes to the potential of what I could do on the internet,” says Nour.

In 2017, Nour discovered how to paywall content like videos and ebooks (think Udemy). He began earning a steady $ 100 a month off a handful of guides to his favorite video games. But there was only so much money to be made off fellow young video game enthusiasts.

The next year in 2018, Nour became increasingly interested in affiliate marketing. Instead of parsing the internet about how to enter the industry, he used his savings from selling content to buy a ticket to Affiliate World in Berlin. He’d learn everything directly from the best in the industry.

“There are no downsides to reading a book or attending a meeting,” he says. “I always had this belief that meeting people was worth it.”

Nour’s first foray outside of the Middle East was a rousing success. The best affiliate marketers, he learned, all used Facebook ads for their astronomical ROI.

“At that time, if you advertised for ten dollars you’d get fifty back,” he says. “I didn’t understand marketing and business or product-building, but soon, I was making over one and a half million dollars per year.”

By the end of 2018, Nour was making more money on affiliate product ads than what he calculated his entrepreneurship professor at his university was making. He decided to drop out of school and pursue entrepreneurship full-time.

A Terrible Year in Lebanon

Nour continued making great money in affiliate marketing throughout 2019 when the entrepreneurial air dropped from his sails. 

After years of corruption in the Lebanese banking sector, the central bank shut down and lost an estimated $72 billion in deposited funds. Nour’s money was caught up in the countless other accounts that vanished off the face of the Earth.

At almost any other time in history, Nour would have been flat broke. However, he’d invested $50,000 in Bitcoin with some of his profits in early 2019. By the time the Lebanese banking catastrophe went into full effect, his investment had increased around 1,500 percent to $750,000 during the Bitcoin boom of 2020.

Although Nour was sad at losing his funds, “the optimism never went away,” he says. “I just kept moving.”

Not willing to lose momentum, Nour used his Bitcoin savings to start a handful of ecommerce stores in tech, jewelry subscription boxes, and anxiety-soothing products.

Again, he tapped into his formula for success (reading, attending events, and now talking to his intellectual partner) bringing in a combined $400,000 per month. But Nour lost this business when he was locked out of his Stripe account. 

For years, Stripe had let him operate out of Lebanon while doing business in the UK. Suddenly, he needed to prove his address in the UK and couldn’t do it. His ecommerce operations in the EU ground to a sudden halt and he lost a small sum of money that was stuck in his account.

Undeterred, Nour created a B2B business aiding influencers in setting up ecommerce stores called influencee.com. He grew the business to $100,000 in revenue but couldn’t maintain it. It dawned on him that his previous success as an affiliate marketer was owed more to luck than real startup know-how.

“I realized that marketing in business was a completely different skill set from media buying or advertising,” he says. “It’s not about building money but building value. Creating something so valuable that people will pay for it.”

Nour attempted to sell the influencer business on Acquire.com and even received a few offers. But instead of quitting when he was ahead, Nour was encouraged by buyer interest. He withdrew his business from the marketplace and doubled down. This proved a costly mistake when he burned out completely in 2022 and shuttered the business.

Finding the Cure to Anxious Attachment

After Nour’s tough 2020, he moved to the Netherlands to study psychology, believing it might make him a better marketer. Moving was also an opportunity to participate in a more vibrant startup scene and escape his rapidly failing country.

“There are places where things are happening and there are places where nothing is happening,” he says. “In Lebanon, you don’t hear about AI startups or rockets going to Mars or chip manufacturing plants. I realized if I wanted to create something big, I needed to be in the right place in the world.”

Fast forward to 2022, Nour finally put influencee.com down to rest. He’d run out of inspiration but was still unwilling to sell so he let it wind down to a trickle of customers. He’d finally found inspiration for his first truly successful startup – a highly unsuccessful relationship.

Nour had been in a rocky relationship for much of 2022. He argued frequently with his girlfriend and they eventually broke up. Nour traced his insecurity in the relationship to his anxious attachment style. Psychology Today defines anxious attachment as individuals fearing abandonment and seeking constant closeness and reassurance from their partners.

Nour turned the research techniques he’d used to become an entrepreneur towards healing his anxious attachment. He read dozens of books and consumed countless podcasts and online courses. After about a year of reading and soul-searching, he developed what he believed to be a definitive framework for solving his attachment issues.

“The first way to solve a problem is through knowledge,” says Nour. “I know that science has shown that if you do X, anxious attachment will go down. If you do this same thing over three months, you’ll become less anxiously attached forever.”

But Nour also had a startup idea. If he could easily find books on anxious attachment, then that meant people around the world suffered from it. Why not create online, paywalled content to help deal with the problem?

“If I don’t know how to fix my problems, the best way is to hire someone who does,” he says. “If you want to lose weight, you need to hire a dietician. If you want to get stronger, you might hire a personal trainer. The more personal a problem is, the more universal it is.”

A Startup to Cure Anxiety?

In about a week, Nour created the basis for his anxious attachment solution. The business took inspiration from all of Nour’s previous ventures, specifically content locking and influencer outreach and management.

Due to his recently-inked NDA on Acquire.com, Nour can’t go into details about how the business works or even reveal its name. He can say it was a mental health platform that helped people overcome anxious attachment through the framework he’d crafted through research.

Nour was also able to share some of the methods he used to grow his business.

“The main thing that grew the product was the offer,” he says. “Once I created the product and made a couple of sales, I went on this journey for a month where I got a bunch of audiobooks from founders like Dan Kennedy and Alex Hormozi. I learned a lot about how to create an offer I could convert and scale.”

Nour was cautious about his startup pricing. He wanted it to be something that as many people as possible could afford but also pricey enough that people valued it. He resolved to gain higher pricing through upsells.

“I always had at least three upsells,” says Nour. “I had a high-ticket item that ten percent of people would buy once they subscribed. I had things within the product that people would buy with my email flows. I also used bonuses to incentivize action. For example, I would give people free sessions if they did something fast.”

To keep everything running smoothly, Nour advertised on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Google. As he started to gain happy customers, he converted more using their testimonials as social proof.

The business quickly became profitable, and more than that, it was fulfilling. Unlike previous projects that were solely money-making schemes, Nour loved what he’d built. He loved it so much that he knew his time running the business would need to come to an end.

“The business I had was valuable to people and growing a lot, but I was not the right person to continue with that growth,” he says. “I wanted someone possessing the skill set to take it to the next level.”

Selling to a Kindred Spirit

Nour wanted to sell quickly and get a favorable valuation by courting multiple buyers simultaneously. He remembered how quickly he’d received buyer interest when selling his influencer ecommerce business a few years ago.

The first time he’d used Acquire, Nour felt overwhelmed. The second time through, Nour noticed Acquire had added its Guided by Acquire (GBA) service, letting sellers work with acquisition advisors to talk them through the sales process. 

GBA included a seller fee, but it was still significantly lower than a brokerage service. He found the hands-on service added a huge difference to his final sale price.

“I give a lot of credit to Rainier [Nour’s acquisition guide at Acquire] for giving me perspective on buyers and their offers,” says Nour. “He’d help me understand whether or not buyers were serious or were giving me too much of a buyer-friendly offer.” 

Finally, Nour connected with one serious buyer who he believed was a kindred spirit. Nour even stopped over in San Francisco to hang out with him during a business trip.

‘I liked my buyer’s passion, proactiveness, and openness to the world’s beauty and abundance,” Nour says. “Coupled with his business experience, he felt like the perfect person to take my startup to where it needs to be.”

Post-sale, Nour could say he’d built a valuable startup with more than luck. He’d proved it with the transaction.

Good Ideas Never Die

Nour’s advice to other founders seeking one-million-dollar exits: ideate the problem you want to solve before you begin.

“Any business is like answering three questions,” he says. “What are your customers’ thoughts, pains, and desires? Why am I qualified? And how can I help them?”

His other piece of advice is to make sure you focus more on your product than just the money you’ll make. 

“Don’t just sell to sell,” he says. “Give enough value both to the customer and the buyer. Half the battle is falling in love with the problem.”

While Nour earned millions pursuing numbers in his bank account early on, this attitude didn’t help him become a successful founder. Only once he’d found a problem he loved and wanted to solve did he become successful. Perhaps the lesson we can all learn is that good products may come and go, but good ideas never die.

Get content like this, and more, sent directly to your inbox twice a month.