Even a growing, profitable business can be a hard sell if its finances aren’t in order.
Rollie Parame recently got Acquire’d in a five-figure exit for his fast-growing ecommerce business selling Japanese car details, JP Streetsoul (recently renamed to Artifact-Sama). At its peak, he was earning a healthy $67,000 in TTM revenue from a social media account he’d been curating for years.
But he was handling every part of the process from logistics to sourcing products to marketing them on TikTok and Instagram – and he was burning out.
He listed on Acquire.com as a first-time seller knowing absolutely nothing about how to sell a business. He faced multiple rejections, but instead of backing down, Rollie learned from experienced buyers exactly what information they wanted to see on his listing.
Armed with new knowledge about due diligence and bookkeeping, Rollie updated his listing, cleaned up his financials, and closed his sale in four months.
Rollie told us how he built his company through cold Instagram DMs and viral Tiktok hits. He also told us what finally caused him to burn out and how he navigated Acquire.com as a new seller.
Turning a Passion Account Into an Income Source
Rollie says his defining trait is trying things regardless of his preparation level. Then he learns from his mistakes and adapts.
It’s why Rollie started a social media account for Japanese cars, and how he founded an ecommerce business selling Japanese car parts.
Japanese cars have always appealed to Rollie. Known for their simplicity, sleek design, reliability, and relatively low cost, they are popular among people wanting high performance vehicles that they can modify on a budget. Growing up in Australia, Rollie’s friends were fanatics for Japanese car racing and one of his friends’ fathers even taught them about the sport.
In 2019, Rollie started an Instagram account called Streetsoul.jp where he mostly posted pictures of Japanese sports cars and sold things like keychains. It was a fun project he did on the side while working full-time in IT.
Rollie’s trajectory changed in early 2021 during the pandemic when he bought a Scion FRS as a fixer-upper and tried to modify it.
He noticed few businesses were sourcing parts for Japanese cars. For example, he wanted a specific car detail in black, but the only part he could find online was in black and white. He obtained the fabric necessary to make it a black one, modified the part for his car, and then decided to try selling it on ebay.
At this point, Rollie had an idea. Streetsoul.jp had about 5,000 fairly engaged followers. He’d already started producing stickers and keychains to sell to them. They were easy to source and marketing was just the occasional post in the Instagram feed between car pics. Why not sell his new, modified car parts on Instagram too?
He posted the part on his Instagram story and asked people interested in buying to DM him. Crickets. After 200 views, he’d only received two DMs.
Rollie elevated sales the hard way. His follower count was relatively small and intimate so he cold DM’d everyone who had viewed his story asking them if they’d be interested in buying the part with a discounted rate. He converted a few extra sales.
After his third sale in three days, he thought he could be onto something and began hunting for Alibaba suppliers. He has a bit of advice when searching on the famed Chinese factory directory:
“You have factory accounts and then agent or seller accounts,” he says. “Ideally, you want the factory because the agent is going to take a cut. The best way to figure it out is to just ask them directly.”
His other piece of advice is to look at prices on sites like Alibaba as guidelines rather than rules.
“The price they advertise is never really their best price,” he says. “It’s always a negotiation and barrier you can sift through. The price usually has to do with order quantity.”
Rollie secured a steady stream of parts from Chinese suppliers and began posting regularly on Instagram and Tiktok. He went somewhat viral. Through sales, Rollie learned that Japanese cars were often a gateway to other aspects of Japanese culture and began adding items to his store that weren’t solely car specific.
Business grew exponentially in that first year.
“I thought it would be cool to do a hundred sales in a month and I did it in a week,” he says. “Then I thought it would be cool to do a thousand in a month and I did it again in a week.”
By the end of his second year, he was doing up to $15,000 in revenue a month. It was a great business and side income, but he was burning out fast.
You Try Running a Logistics Business
Running sales, marketing, customer service, logistics, and finances as a one-man show was taxing. Rollie slogged away for two years estimating he was doing 80 hours per week between his work as an IT manager and his ecommerce business.
“I’d get up, do my day job, get home at five, and then go straight into this until 11,” he says. “I didn’t really see the long-term being worth it for me. I kept seeing there was a cap or ceiling on this type of business. It was a luxury and I wanted to solve a real problem.”
He knew he needed to either sell the business or figure out how to automate it. He listed Streetstyle.jp on Acquire.com in March 2023 and started talking to potential buyers.
Lessons From Uninterested Buyers
Rollie was a first-time seller. And, on Acquire.com, he realized he’d finally found a case where going in blind was a bad idea. The entire process took about four months, though he believes it would have been shorter had he prepared more.
“I quickly learned it was not a sellable business,” he says. “Dealing with people seemingly more experienced in the acquisition space than I was was great for getting feedback. Even if they were not into the business, I’d ask them what they didn’t like and improve the listing.”
Between seller feedback and rifling through Acquire.com’s buyer resource pages, Rollie was able to get a couple buyers on the hook. He ended up selling to one who’d been interested from the start.
“The acquirer came from an ecommerce background but was currently in an agency doing digital marketing,” says Rollie. “He wanted to get back into ecommerce but didn’t want to do it from scratch. It was pretty clear that dealing with this guy over the others would be a smooth process. I didn’t want it to be a drama.”
Rollie said the buyer was experienced and knew exactly what he wanted which made the sale process smooth. His favorite parts of the acquisition process were the free resources for new sellers on Acquire.com.
“Getting acquired is a complicated process and the free resources and information around the process is a godsend,” he says. “The example data room is super valuable. Honestly, I don’t think I’d have been able to do it on another platform. I found it really helpful for first time founders.”
Be Honest About Your Shortcomings
To other founders looking to sell their businesses, Rollie believes the most important thing is to be honest about the shortcomings of your business.
“It will save you and your buyer time if you’re honest,” he says. “Anyone who wants to acquire your business is going to find it anyway. I would give people all the reasons to not buy my business. Then I’d say if you’re okay with that, let’s chat.”
The other important thing for him was to create a clear profit and loss (P&L) statement. It was something he lacked when he first registered on Acquire.com. Once he’d created one, his sales process became much easier.
“Many founders are creative and don’t really think about the boring financial processes,” he says. “If you do your P&L right, and do it early, it saves you a lot of trouble.”
Now Rollie is trying a new venture hoping to make more of an impact in the world. He’s working on an email newsletter called Getpluggedin.co centered around the electric vehicle (EV) industry.
“Everyone knows EVs will be a transformative industry. Because it’s a huge space there’s a lot of noise. The newsletter’s main goal is to distill all the noise and give a clear signal.”
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