As you might already know, we curate startup listings to ensure the best possible experience for you and our buyers. Sometimes your startup won’t be a good fit, and we’ll work with you to resolve any outstanding issues to get your startup listed. That said, it won’t always work: Sometimes, you’re better off listing elsewhere or waiting until your circumstances change.
Nevertheless, I’d like to give you an introduction to the kind of startups that get listed and receive buyer attention. That’s right – we consider both when reviewing your listing. If you never hear a peep from buyers or conversations with them lead nowhere, you’re going to feel frustrated, and that doesn’t sit right with us – acquisitions should be rewarding.
Before I continue, please note that what follows isn’t a strict list of what we can and can’t accept (well, at least not all of it!). We want to give you insight into our decision-making process, our assessment criteria, and why we’ve chosen to evaluate startups this way. Then next time you’re ready to list, you’ll understand why Acquire.com is the absolute best marketplace for you.
Your Location Doesn’t Matter
Before you explore our listing preferences, please remember that Acquire is a global marketplace. We curate based on your startup’s merits, not on its location. As such, you can theoretically list on Acquire no matter where you live or operate. Entrepreneurship is a global endeavor, and we’re here to help you get acquired regardless of your location.
Startups We Love
Profitable SaaS and Ecommerce
Imagine you’re a buyer for a moment. Before acquiring a startup, you need to estimate how much you can help it grow. Probably the easiest way of doing so is with the subscription revenue model. The beauty of SaaS is in its consistency and predictability. They’re generally lucrative, low-overhead businesses that make great flipping opportunities for the right buyers.
Our marketplace favors SaaS because buyers do. SaaS startups are quick to grasp, easy to derisk, and their assets easy to isolate in an acquisition. Critical metrics like churn, ARR, MRR, and so on apply no matter which startup a buyer considers, making them easier to compare and to identify the best opportunities. In other words, buyers know what they’re getting with SaaS.
Ecommerce startups offer similar advantages. Aside from stock and premises, they’re digital businesses with low overheads and huge upside potential. Some are exclusively online and subcontract fulfillment, leveraging inbound traffic and supplier deals to drive profits. All buyers then need is connected analytics and payment gateway data to evaluate growth potential.
Other Profitable Startups
We do list startups outside of SaaS and ecommerce, including:
- Shopify SaaS apps,
- Marketplaces, and
Regardless of industry, however, we tend to favor startups with excellent financial performance (profitable) or encouraging upside potential since these engage buyers most.
We don’t want you to list your startup and not receive any interest or for conversations to peter out and go nowhere. If we don’t think your startup is a good fit, we’ll let you know and suggest actions you might take to prepare your startup for a future listing.
Important note: While we favor SaaS and ecommerce, and do occasionally list outside of those industries, there are some startups we simply can’t list no matter how big or profitable they are, such as those in adult entertainment, gambling, and weapons.
Revenue and Customers
In our experience, buyers come to Acquire to find startups that are already doing well. They choose startups that are growing and profitable and then supercharge their performance. The buyer might double-down on SEO, optimize paid advertising, target new markets, or develop the product to boost growth and profitability and earn that return on investment.
Buyers seldom approach us for startup ideas, untested technology, or theoretical business models. While I’m sure there’s a market for that elsewhere, buyers use Acquire because they want to skip the set-up stages and go straight to growth. It’s much easier to earn a return on an already profitable business than to try and get one off the ground, for example.
As a result, we seldom list startups with no revenue. If you’re pre-revenue, you might get listed if your valuation is under $20,000, but the average is just $7,500. Acquire is not a good fit for pre-revenue startups since it’s so much harder to evaluate them. Instead, demonstrate viability by launching an MVP to paying customers before approaching us to list.
Ever been overcharged in a restaurant? Nothing sours the taste of a good meal like being charged double or triple the expected price. As humans, we’re acutely aware of value, and when our expectations clash with reality, it can feel like injustice – even an insult. Overvaluing your startup doesn’t just discourage offers, therefore, it can even irritate buyers.
Overvaluation might simply be the result of ignorance or error, but can also involve unrealistic expectations and an emotional attachment to or biased evaluation of a business. Eliminate emotion from your calculations and you stand a good chance of selling without the kind of spirited debates we’ve observed in the startup community about overvaluation.
That said, valuing your business is part art, part science. It’s easy to fall prey to cognitive biases such as focusing on the good and none of the bad, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right first time. Instead, estimate the value of your startup using our free data-driven valuation tool or our statistical valuation guide, and make sure to reference our acquisition multiples report showing valuation multiples across industries averaged across completed acquisitions on Acquire.com (Feb 2022 report, Aug 2022 report). Once you’re comfortable, then submit your listing for review.
In the coming weeks, you’ll also be able to view the valuation multiples of closed deals on Acquire. We’re working on a report that splits average multiples across startup types and deal sizes, which should give you a general idea of how much buyers are willing to pay. Again, this report, while helpful as a guide, will be no substitute for a professional valuation.
The integrity of the Acquire.com marketplace is paramount: If buyers can’t trust our listings, they’ll never use the marketplace, and your startup won’t get Acquired. It’s imperative, therefore, that all of your information is accurate and up to date. Before we list your startup, our curation team will check the information you entered and challenge any discrepancies.
If your domain is incorrect, for example, its certificate is out of date, or your website appears to belong to a different business, we can’t list your startup until you’ve resolved those issues. Your ownership of any business must also be indisputable, your product, service, or offering unambiguous, and most importantly, live. Beta or “coming soon” startups won’t be listed.
Buyers will vet your startup in the same way we curate them. They’ll have a poke around your website, financials, press, and reviews and compare your listing information with what exists in the real world. We mimic this in our curation process so we can tell you in advance if we suspect you’ll have trouble selling. You can then fix the issues before listing.
While this might seem like a long list of dos and don’ts, please remember that helping your startup get Acquired would be impossible without us attracting buyers to the marketplace. Our curation strategy helps maintain the integrity of the marketplace so you and buyers have the best possible experience. If you can’t list now, we’ll help you figure out what you need to do to qualify, and then help you list in the future.
In the meantime, if you need additional assistance, you won’t find a better person to help you sell your startup than someone who closes acquisitions for a living. Our M&A advisor directory, for example, contains over 50 acquisition professionals across all areas of the process, including valuations and legal, and might be the key to listing at the right price and finding the ideal buyer.
Go to your seller dashboard and submit a request (click “Hire expert help”) and give us a few details about where you need help. We’ll hand-match you with a qualified advisor within 72 hours. You’ve nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain.
If you’re a SaaS startup generating $1M+ revenue and want a more hands-on, done-for-you service you can bank on, then check out Managed by Acquire (MbA). MbA is a special unit within Acquire.com that acts as a full advisory service handling your acquisition end-to-end. It was built as a request by so many founders that wanted us to help facilitate their acquisitions and we couldn’t let them down.
Whatever you direction you take, we’re here to help. Just email email@example.com and we’ll point help lay out your options.
The content on this site is not intended to provide legal, financial or M&A advice. It is for information purposes only, and any links provided are for your convenience. Please seek the services of an M&A professional before entering into any M&A transaction. It is not Acquire’s intention to solicit or interfere with any established relationship you may have with any M&A professional.