Website Closers Izach Porter and Brent Fisher chat with two serial entrepreneurs, Mark Soberman and Brian Short, who just sold their day trading strategy company Netpicks – which launched all the way back in 1996.
Today’s episode of Deal Closers is hosted by Jason Gillikin, brought to you by WebsiteClosers.com, and is produced by Earfluence.
Mark Soberman: I remember to this day probably one of the single greatest moments I’ve had at NetPicks, where we were about to start the teleseminar. And you had a button where you can turn it on, everybody can say hello. And I remember turning this thing on and it was like an unbelievable sound of like, over 1000 people all saying hello at once, you can’t understand anybody but you’re like, holy crap. When I hit mute, I was like this, this is gonna work. So we sold over 1000 units of ultimate trading machine, for us was the first million dollar launch.
Jason Gillikin: You’re listening to Deal Closers, brought to you by WebsiteClosers.com, a show about how to build your ecommerce business to be profitable, scalable, and one day, even sellable.
I’m Jason Gillikin, and on the show today, Website Closeers Izach Porter and Brent Fisher chat with two serial entrepreneurs – Mark Soberman and Brian Short – who just sold a company that launched all the way back in 1996.
Let’s think about 1996 for a moment. Google didn’t exist yet. Netscape was the number one browser and Microsoft’s internet explorer was a distant second. Internet connections were dial up and had a max speed of about 30 kilobits per second. Most internet speeds are about 500 times faster now. I remember back in 1996 begging my parents to let me get a hotmail email account and them saying no because no one gives away anything for free.
It was a different world, and yet that’s when Mark Silverman decided to try something by building Netpicks, which provides trading tips and courses on how to make money on the market.
Growing up, Mark was an entrepreneur from go.
Having a business was just kind of like second nature. When I was in high school, I was reselling Computer Products, printers, computers, etc. So coming up with computer distributors back then, and was probably one of the early mail order people down in San Diego. So it was just always something that I gravitated towards, I was kind of on one track, telling my parents that I wanted to be a doctor to make them happy. And the other track knowing that was never going to be reality, and businesses kind of what spoke to me.
Jason Gillikin: Mark did have some quote unquote real jobs after the travel agency. He worked at two tech startups, but he quickly figured out that was his path either
But along the way, I kind of just realized that it probably wasn’t for me, I wasn’t the best person that reporting somebody wasn’t the best person that kind of, you know, listen to what I thought were sometimes dumb ideas. So I kind of knew that ultimately, more than likely, I was gonna have to do my own thing. So in like 1995 or so, I was at a technology company that had just gone public a few months before, was running their marketing department and started this business called NetPicks. However, NetPicks didn’t originally start in the same niche that it’s in now, I had a great interest in sports, picking sports gambling, which has become a huge industry. Now, I was always very early, unfortunately, on some things. But NetPicks was originally a sports picking sports handicap website. That’s kind of how it started. In fact, I think years ago, when we had a company conference, we got everybody together, we were able to find on the internet, some of the early gyrations of the website, which is always kind of entertaining, to see what it used to look like. But it kind of had the sports picking bent that didn’t last all that long. I got out of that, you know, the bookie business is not really one for the duration, let’s just put it that way. So I love the name, though, but also had an interest in investing. Thought NetPicks kind of a good name for something if I was gonna get into this investing business. And at the time, there was, I think it was one other company out there online that was offering any kind of analysis, any kind of pics. And I knew for me, I had spent about 10 years, 12 years trying to become a better investor. I had my first investments like in the mid-80s, I got super lucky and a couple options trades. And then I probably have a continuous struggle after that. The worst thing was I had success early, didn’t know what I was doing. Thought that I did. And then I spent, you know, 10 years trying to figure it out. And I got to a point where I was getting relatively decent. I was like, maybe there’s an audience for this. And again, this was back in the mid-90s. I mean, people were just starting to get online. Everybody had an AOL address if they were online. And a lot of our first customers, we delivered the pics via fax machines. So that’s definitely to this day, something that I do remember. So that’s some of the early.
Jason Gillikin: That’s awesome. So you’re delivering these via fax, like how are people finding you then like, are they finding you on line, or are you marketing them some other way?
Mark Soberman: Yeah, it was online. The business was an online business from the start. So I literally created this website with some template based system out there. I can’t exactly remember the name of it. I think it was published by a company Sierra Online, I forget the exact publishing package that they put out. They were the video game company, but they got into, I guess, website development at the time. So nothing like we have today. So I put it online. And the nice thing was there was not a lot of competition. So back then even though the audience was much smaller, you didn’t have competition. We weren’t doing paid advertising. Everything was discovered via organic initially. So to be perfectly honest, the business then was easy. Because it was quite easy to get customers. You didn’t have to be sophisticated. There was just no such thing as worrying about lead generation and grabbing an email and developing a relationship. You’d have to do any of that. Basically, all you did was you offered a trial. Somebody took a trial, you set up your billing, basically your recurring billing, and by the way, that was quite difficult. Back then again, there wasn’t like all the systems there are now originally the only people doing recurring billing was the porn industry at the time. So we set up with net billing, which was the company that was doing all of the porn, the billing, and that was the industry that really kind of set the pace for online that was kind of version one of NetPicks three times a week. Analysis picks done by me it was a solo business at the time. I remember getting married and going on my honeymoon and I would do three updates today. We were in Hawaii, so I’d wake up at two in the morning, six in the morning, and then a 10 in the morning and that was kind of what you did. In order to get these picks out for everybody.
Jason Gillikin: And then you sent the pics via fax to the people that want them via fax?
Mark Soberman: I’d say about two thirds of the people initially were fax and the other third, I was teaching them how to use the internet. So that was kind of how it started.
Jason Gillikin: So how did you establish credibility? How did you get to the point where you’re like, I’ve got some juice here, like people are following along and I’m giving them value?
Mark Soberman: Yeah, it’s a good question. The good part and the bad part about the business that we’re in, you know, investment training investment advice, is we’re either going to be right, or we’re going to be wrong, there’s really no in between. So everybody measures us on the latest picks, the latest analysis, the latest thing, the latest system that we put out, and you are wrong a lot, no matter how good we are in this business, no matter how good we’ve gotten over the years, we’re still wrong and have been wrong quite often. And that is the reality in any industry who says that they’re not, or they rarely have a loss, it’s a lie, or they’re doing something, you know, that’s just uncapped risk type of thing. So by giving somebody a trial, they would have like a two week trial, initially, they could see probably over time, like four or five, six picks, and judge for themselves, if it was working, or they saw potential, obviously, they would continue, they pay the monthly fee. If it was not cancellation on the trial. And off it went back then at the time, you know, the renewal rate was, was pretty good. I mean, it was probably like 40% to 50%, probably 50% of the time would renew and go on and take you know, monthly subscription doesn’t mean they would stay forever, but they would, you know, typically stay, on average about six to eight months back at that time.
Jason Gillikin: So as a serial entrepreneur, some of your businesses worked out, okay, some didn’t really worked out. I imagine none of them had the success that NetPics ended up having, what point where you like, “Oh shit, this is I’ve got something here, this is something that I can actually grow”?
Mark Soberman: Yeah, it was probably 97. And I was still working. And they were trying to downsize a little bit. They offered some buyouts, I think they offered like a six or eight month buyout. And at the time, I was being paid quite well, to work there, I was working the NetPics business, you know, with my computer faced away from what anybody could see. So I was like, you know what, I’m gonna roll the dice. I won’t have these my boss key anymore. And I’ll take the buyout. If it works, and I can sustain it, then I’ll stay. If not, I’ll go back into, you know, corporate world and technology, which was perfectly fine at that time for me. But at that point, I already had enough customers, I felt that it could sustain full time. So I took the leap, basically, and, and went full time. And that point is when I started to learn more about, you know, this early business called, you know, internet marketing, which was just at that point, was not really a thing. There was not a lot of experts or gurus there was no YouTube channels. There weren’t a lot of places you can learn.
Jason Gillikin: Yeah. And so did you start to see some traction on the advertising on Yahoo, and any SEO success? And that’s how you started marketing your business.
Mark Soberman: Yeah, SEO was good. And not because I was doing what you do now, which is developing a lot of content. Again, it just wasn’t the level of competition. And Google was not sophisticated. So at that point, it’s very easy to trick the search engines, you know, pretty easy. You just did all the you did all the tactics and tricks, you didn’t really try to build anything sustainable, to where that actually came back to kind of bite us years later, because the original version of the site had a lot of tricks. And that’s how it worked. At the point, it wasn’t considered Blackhat. It was, it was how you did SEO, you know, nobody had this thought of let’s write really good long form content. And, you know, you started to do a little keyword research, you did that type of thing. But then all you did was stuff those keywords, right, it wasn’t good content. It was just again, to try to get that search volume on Yahoo, especially at the time. And then, of course, Google started to, you know, up and coming. So I wanted to start to control things a little bit. And that’s kind of where paid advertising that started, you know, I started to realize, you know, how do you control your own destiny? If you rely on Google or Yahoo, even to this day, you know, you’re basically that’s a recipe for disaster, I think it can be one part of your channel, one part of your Legion, but if all you rely on eventually it’s, you’re gonna be gone. So I kind of realized we had to start doing and when I say we, I mean me, me my toothbrush, pretty much that was the, you know, the entire team. So I had to do some PPC. And that’s kind of what I started doing. Back then I was doing PPC for a lot of affiliate stuff, I was kind of honing my skills, you know, doing PPC ads for stuff on ClickBank, you can make a lot of money back then doing it. So wasn’t just NetPicks. Again, it was just finding opportunities. But I think learning how to write and learning how to market and learning how to, you know, appeal to people, you know, some of their needs. Those are all the skills that I kind of picked up over those first few years.
Jason Gillikin: Yeah. And so when did you expand beyond you and your toothbrush?
Mark Soberman: That’s a good question. That was hard for me because again, I saw the company that I left, basically implode so to see a company that was the most successful in its industry that grew super-fast that you know, had locations all over big warehouses, and then all the people that I had hired eventually, you know, went on to work at you know, all kinds of different places and technology, which was fun to watch even to this day, but to see that implode, I was really hesitant to bring anybody on to get any help, the most help that I would typically get at that point was an admin person. You know, somebody helped with the bookkeeping, somebody to help with cancellations, or a little bit of customer service or that type of thing. I think really where it started, and Brian, correct me if I’m wrong, I think were you like number two, or am I forgetting some?
Brian Short: I think I was number two, and then Anthony came along.
Mark Soberman: Yeah. So I think that’s kind of what happened, I started to develop some relationships and friendships with customers with clients. You know, there were certain clients that I had, that were just great people, I actually really look forward to talking to them. When you’re doing this on an isolated island. It’s kind of a lonely business. And investing is tough, because like I mentioned, you’re wrong all the time. And your customers are on you about it. So it’s a lot of pressure in this business. So we started have some clients that, you know, really good, good to talk to you bounce ideas off. Of course, there’s always other clients that exact opposite of that. And thankfully, Brian was not that I think Brian approached me with, he had some ideas about some programming. He was a technical guy. And he had some ideas about how we could, or how I could possibly automate things a little bit more than I was doing in our conversations and sounded interesting. I was like, you know what, I’m gonna go ahead and contract with Brian. So that was kind of the first time of trying to bring somebody else in. And it was a client. And that ended up being really our recipe, I think, for success all these years, because I would say 99% of the people that worked for NetPicks, it still worked for NetPicks were customers first. And the good news was trading is kind of, again, lonely can be boring 90% of the day, a lot of these people want something else to do, we develop relationship. And that’s every single person that I hired thereafter, was a client. And I think it spoke to the customers that we were talking to, in subsequent years, when they knew that the people pitching and the people backing up the products, were basically them just a few years later and after having some success.
Izach Porter: What a great testament to the effectiveness of the platform.
Brent Fisher: Yeah, it was astonishing. It even helped during the process because people, potential buyers with thought that was so amazing that you guys had really developed something special, and I don’t know whether it was by design, or it just organically happened. But it was that’s a pretty awesome way to hire people.
Mark Soberman: It made a huge difference to me, because most of our people to this day, you know, I’ve been here 10, 15 years, it’s rare that we’ve ever lost anybody, other than maybe by our choice, we’ve had tremendous loyalty that way, which has been great, we were doing remote work before it was cool. You know, before COVID, we were doing all this. So we kind of built the business that way it gave our people nice flexibility. But at the same time, they got to be part of something a little bit bigger, and they got to you know, give back more, you know, with their skill set, and then really monetize, you know, their experience. So I think it’s kind of the perfect combination. And anytime we needed to hire, in fact, we you know, hired somebody somewhat recently, we would just send out an email, and we would always get 50 to 100 people to apply. And I’m talking good people. I mean, it was hard always to pick the person, because there’s like five or 10 people I would be happy with. Yeah.
Jason Gillikin: Brian, let’s go to you, I believe from your bio, you’re a serial entrepreneur as well.
Brian Short: Yes, very similar story to mark. I started in corporate for three years. At the end of that three years, I knew I didn’t want to do that ever again. So there was a family business in my past. Also, we owned a propane company. I’m a programmer by trade. I started a computer consulting company that I ran for 20 years. And in 2004, I sold that company. And so at that point, I was looking for something else to do. I didn’t know what that next thing was. And I had subscribed to NetPicks service at that point, and really liked what was going on there and the pics and just that process. And as Mark alluded to, I approached him and I said, “Hey, this was on a Forex signal service that he had at the time, it was issuing signals on the different currency pairs”. I said, I can automate that and trade it automatically for customers. And we can sell that as a combination package. And he liked that idea. And that was really our first project together, as he mentioned. And then from there, we just formed a really good relationship business wise, and he and I think a lot alike. And I think that helps the process. And it’s just been a fun journey over these last few years in that regard.
Jason Gillikin: How did you get into online trading even before joining up with NetPicks?
Brian Short: Yeah, that’s a great story too. So this goes back to the 90s. I’ve been a trader for as long as my working career. So this goes back to the days when your broker would call you up and give you the hot tip of the day. And in the 90s we did my business partner then we did great. We were making six figures, seven figures in some years. And there was 18 month period at the end of the 90s where we basically lost it all. I mean, they just drew Have it into the ground. And it was after that point, I was like, you know what, I’m tired of relying on somebody else, I want to rely on something that I can have control over something that gives me the edge in the market. And that’s really how I got interested in trading. And, more specifically, we’re active day traders and actually long term traders to a little bit of that but that’s my trading past. And now going forward as an actively involved in NetPicks, I call a live room every day, I have members come in, and we look at the markets, we apply a strategy, we navigate our way through the price action, good or bad every day, like Mark said, some days don’t work. So well. In fact, today was one of those days. And I had to kind of play the psychological coach, say, You know what, you’re gonna have these days, but we the two days prior were awesome. That’s the process and how I got interested in trading. And it’s just been a fun journey.
Jason Gillikin: So what is the model look like now? It’s 26 years since the company started. And you know, you’re giving tips back then and sending the faxes. But now it’s so much more than just tips, from what I understand there’s courses right, and like, there’s other things that are available. So what’s the model for NetPicks now?
Mark Soberman: Yeah, I mean, one of the reasons I think we’ve stayed relevant this long, because when you do something like this, for this many years, I’ve seen a lot of my competitors come and go, it’s been a cycle of people that burst onto the scene, probably get quite a bit larger than us, and then they’re gone. And there’s like, these five to seven years sort of cycles that we’ve had. So I feel like I’ve been through about six of these, you know, so far. But that’s meant that we’ve had to sort of reinvent ourselves multiple times, like you mentioned in the beginning, and doing pics three times a week, that was kind of how we started along the way we did get into courses. And that was probably one of the big transformations in the business. And that actually came from that idea at the time, because it was still kind of new, it’s not new anymore. Now it seems like it’s every day, you know, courseware is very common. But I purchased a consulting program with Perry Marshall. You know, he’s kind of one of the old guys out there that has been promoting, you know, PPC and courses and things forever. And I remember it was like 12,000 bucks, it was a lot. And it was like myself, and I think somebody else that I had on my team at the time. And we just do these, you know, these calls, these weekly calls. And I honestly thought it was a total waste of time I felt I spent 12,000 bucks was a complete waste. Because we covered a lot of different things. None of it I really thought applied. But the one idea that he gave us was you need to get into you need to release a course. And we’re like, okay, seems like a decent idea. We’ll give it a shot. That’s kind of when we started to transform. I don’t really remember the exact year this was, but we developed our first course, Brian, you may remember it was “Ultimate Trading Machine”, this was course number one and it was $997. And we followed everything Perry Marshall taught. And again, I was still thinking I think the guy ripped me off. But we did everything. You know, we followed everything we invited people to not a webinar, because back then there weren’t really webinars, we did a teleseminar. I remember to this day, probably one of the single greatest moments I’ve had it NetPicks, where we were about to start the teleseminar. And you had a button where you can turn it on. And we could you know, everybody can say hello. And I remember turning this thing on. And it was like an unbelievable sound of like, over 1000 people, I don’t know how many people run, they’re all saying hello at once you can understand anybody. But you’re like, holy crap. When I hit mute, I was like this, this is gonna work. So we sold over 1000 units of ultimate trading machine within. I mean, a lot of that in the first launch, but certainly within the first 60 days or so. So for us it was the first million dollar launch that we had. Obviously, my investment for 12,000 bucks to Perry Marshall had an ROI. I know, I asked for a refund. He said no, no, but it was clearly worth it. And that’s really where I learned. And I started attending conferences that you don’t need to get a ton of great ideas, you just need to get one great idea out of that if you just get a thought back in the hotel room after going to a conference that you can run with that justifies the entire effort. So you know, it sort of changed my thinking on you know, one testing, because you just never know, and to realizing you don’t need a lot of great ideas when you start to learn how to this machine works with lead generation and developing your lifetime value. So that’s kind of where it started. That was the start of the course, side of the business. And we really follow that path for quite a few years. But we started to realize and this is more than the last few years that people start to cycle back. And they don’t want to spend a lot of time learning. They think they do. They want to buy the course because originally the big thing when you would deliver a course it would come in a big box, it would have 10 DVDs. It would have to make a thud at their doorstep. That’s what everybody wanted. You can’t just deliver 60 minutes of video. It wasn’t worth 1000 bucks. It has to weigh a lot to be worth that money. So that’s what we did you know we deliver big books and DVDs and printed everything. That obviously all changed. People really didn’t want to consume that they weren’t consuming that. So we’ve gravitated now toward more of a hybrid approach, which is yet there’s training. But it’s all obviously, typically online, nothing is delivered, of course in the mail anymore. Its brief is to the point. And a lot of it now is done for you. So we’ll show you how to do it, we realized that it a 10 of you won’t do it. So for that nine out of 10 will also provide the alerts. So it’s kind of interesting is we’ve almost gone full circles, doing what we did in day one in 1996. We provide all that, but we provide a lot more of the background, sort of the insurance policy for people are like, “Okay, what if we stopped tomorrow”? You’ll be okay, because you also have our training, could also do it yourself. So it’s kind of that combination of the two is where the business evolved to throughout these years.
Jason Gillikin: Gotcha. Let’s go the websiteclosers.com guys. Brent, when did you first become aware of NetPicks?
Brent Fisher: I think we just had an initial, I think you guys made an inquiry. I can’t remember how you ultimately got to us. I remember our first conversation.
Mark Soberman: Yeah, I think I bought another website through Website Closers, and had had a good experience with you guys, I had seen that you had recently closed a deal or two in our space. And I think I told you that in the beginning, I always felt the buyer should it needs to be somebody in our niche. It’s not mandatory, but I just felt it would be the best, you know, overall, best for us best for my team, and best for the buyer. So I felt like there was a good chance you still had some people, you know, in your database that maybe missed out on those other opportunities. So that’s why I put the inquiry in.
Jason Gillikin: So Mark, what were was going through your head at that time, then when did you start to think like, you know what things are going well, but maybe it’s time to sell the business?
Mark Soberman: Yeah, we had looked at this about 10 years ago, and we had actually hired a broker at that time. And we had a significant offer at that time. And it was, I forget the exact structure of the firm. That was the, the main company that was looking to acquire US, it was called something different was basically some sort of venture capital type of firm, but they weren’t in our niche. And one of the big requirements that they had was myself and Brian had to stay on in a management day to day role. And we had to retain a certain percentage of the company. And ultimately, I mean, we struggled with the decision, because it was a good offer. But I didn’t know these people, and I didn’t really know, their experience, even in internet marketing at the time. And I was just concerned of that being kind of my new, my new boss in a way, but also the people that we were going to have to work with. So we basically ended up just turning it down, ultimately, because we either at that point wanted to unload it completely to somebody, we just weren’t comfortable with somebody without kind of the knowledge base overall. So you know, obviously, years go by on occasion, I would get emails, I would see somebody in my niche, you know, listed for sale, it’s always a curiosity. Sometimes we would acquire some of those companies, we acquired probably six or seven companies along the way, obviously, much smaller than us. But it was a way for us to get additional content sites, additional customer bases, it worked very well. For us, that was one of our main marketing strategies, I would say probably five to 10 years ago, we probably did a dozen different, you know, acquisitions, all smaller at the time just to get customer databases, get products, things of that nature. So I was always kind of tapped into that side of it. But we ended up over the last few years having a really good run, you know, the business was growing. We’re quite lean. We have a very small team, a great team, but we have a super high margin as a result. So it just sort of felt like you know, what, if we’re going to attract somebody, this would be a good time, we could show them that we got through COVID amazingly well, we’ve know that we’ve been through down market cycles before we have that success. So that’s not really a big concern. If we got a recession. Yeah, sure, it’s going to be a little bit of a shifting a bit, but it’s not gonna really hurt the business. So the timing seem somewhat ideal.
Jason Gillikin: Brent, Mark brings up an interesting point about whether or not a seller will go and of working for the buyer. I mean, you see both sides, obviously, how do you how do you buyers and sellers evaluate whether or not the seller is going to continue to work for the buyer?
Brent Fisher: Yeah, my experience, they know pretty fast. And in this particular case, kind of very first call, I sensed a pretty good synergy between the two. And I think it’s because the industry is such a niche industry. And they just both spoke the language really well. This buyer and seller get to know each other pretty well over the few months it takes to close and I think they kind of, it’s like am I going to be married to this person for the next however many years and you know, they know pretty well. And I think, I hope in this case that I think that you guys are getting along.
Mark Soberman: Yeah. I mean, I think you’re right, the first call. There was just great synergy. Yes. It definitely helped that they were in our niche we had out had conversations with people in our niche as well, that was interesting, but it didn’t have the same chemistry overall, it was appealing because they were, they understood our industry. And we knew that they could probably be successful. But the two guys in particular that ended up acquiring NetPicks, it was just you could tell we were all the kind of people who would probably would work together, and would choose to be business partners with each other, we just kind of all sort of thought alike, we ran our businesses very much the same way, a lot of our philosophies were the same. So it helps have that synergy. Because, you know, when you do this, there’s a lot of trust. I mean, the buyer is putting a lot of trust in us, you know, one, when the deal closes, that we’re going to be there for them, you know, whether we’re working for them or not, I mean, that transitionary period is essential, and it’s scary for a buyer, because they don’t know for sure that you’re going to be around. And then for us as a seller, you know, there may be aspects of the deal, some financing, some, you know, some earned out some loans, we have to have trust in them as well, not to screw things up.
Jason Gillikin: You know, it seems that this business is all about the recurring revenue, and you’ve got a track record of retaining your members, Izach, I mean, that had to be super attractive to a potential buyer?
Izach Porter: Yeah, one of the things that I really loved about this business when we first met Mark, and Brian, there were there were several things. But Brian, Mark mentioned the margin profile, so this business got an 82%, gross margin, just very profitable, really well manage business, long term track record 57%, recurring revenue rate, you know all these metrics that we know buyers love and really value because it makes the cash flow of the business very predictable. And that’s ultimately what buyers are looking for is predictability of cash flows that they’re paying a multiple on. So we were really excited about the listing. On the other hand, it’s a super technical business, it takes a very specialized buyer with a high degree of knowledge. So we knew we were going to have to really have, you know, kind of the rifle approach to finding a buyer, as opposed to a shotgun approach, we wanted to hone in on buyers that, you know, we’re excited about the profitability of the business, but had the capability to actually execute and run this business, which is a small pool of potential buyers, like Mark said, we had several transactions that we had recently executed on other companies kind of in the same category, although that didn’t have the financial profile that that NetPicks had. So we knew there were buyers out there for these kinds of businesses, we knew that it could potentially be hard to find the perfect buyer, but we basically knew what we were going to be looking for. And so you know, we were excited about the about the about the company and about the opportunity and about the potential that it could give to a buyer right after the first the first call we had.
Jason Gillikin: So what happens in after you have the initial call and the buyers like, yeah, this, this sounds amazing, I think we want to continue to evaluate it?
Izach Porter: Well, one thing I’ll say, Brent and I were having a conversation about this, just yesterday that the quality of financial reporting that that our clients have is so indicative of how successful we’re going to be to get through the transaction, because buyers really are going to rely on that. And Mark and Brian at great financials, you know, when we kind of went buyers, every buyer does diligence and kind of goes through the financial diligence process. When a buyer does that, and then everything matches up like they’re expecting, it gives them a lot of confidence in that. And that was the case here where they asked for a lot of information, but there was never any discrepancy that anybody got concerned with. Conversely, when we sell companies that haven’t kind of gone into the transaction, well prepared with good quality financial statements it creates a lot of work during due diligence. And that can that can be scary for a buyer, if the discrepancies that are found are legitimate and can be answered, just having them and kind of going through those processes can it can be fatiguing for both the buyer and the seller. And it can it can cause a lack of confidence. You know, I think you guys did a great job of having clean financials, I think we had a number of add backs that we had represented. But we’ve got we had all the supporting documentation for that. We had good records. I think the buyers did their homework on it, but they did a great job of kind of producing that documentation and the answers as we went through.
Brent Fisher: Yeah. And to Mark and Brian’s credit, it was always a very quick turnaround on any information ask and so that made the process really, really great.
Jason Gillikin: So what can you share about the ultimate transaction in terms of numbers in terms of how long you have to how long you’re staying with the company? What can you share?
Mark Soberman: Yeah, so we did end up at the high end of the asking range. I guess I’ll let Fred and Isaac speak to that a little bit. But we did get what we were looking for as far as the multiple goes that was important to us, like I mentioned, because we were fully ready to walk away from the process and continue doing what we were doing. So we felt like if we could get at this multiple, then and the right buyer, we can go ahead and make the sale happen. So we definitely achieve that Website Closers definitely brought us the right buyer at the right multiple, we did have to negotiate on terms. So there is some consulting arrangements that were made for after the sale, there is a note as well. And this will kind of stretch on for up to five years. But the bulk of it was upfront was cash. And that was important to us as well, we were okay with providing some financing. I think that’s understandable and what people want, especially to feel confident about this size of deal. But we also wanted to make sure that the bulk, let’s say 80% or more was going to be cash up front. And then we were happy to finance some aspects of it. Another thing that was important, from the buyer’s perspective as they wanted myself, Brian and one of their partner to stay on with the business, at least for some time, and maybe a long time. So we didn’t negotiate that separately, have some separate arrangements, basically. And I think each one of us more than happy to do that in some different roles in my situation just in a bit more of a reduced capacity role that was part of the reason to sell. So I have time to do some other things. And so I was able to negotiate that. And they can keep me on as long as they want if I’m providing value. And if not, it’s okay to so that was sort of what we negotiated. So that also makes the transition. You know, kind of nice, because it is a little scary when you sort of sell a cash machine like this. I mean, that’s the one thing I’ve noticed, since I’ve sold I think I’ve mentioned this to Brian, is like sometimes like you’re I don’t know, I’m flying recently and you know, to go buy the on the internet on the plane for the 40 or 50 bucks, you don’t think twice about it. When you have this cash machine. When you sold your business, you know the cash machine anymore, like “Oh, okay, it’s 40, 50 bucks, do I really need the internet”? So you start to have these little decisions about things. And I, I never thought twice about any of this stuff before. So it is nice to sort of have a bit of this recurring a bit of these payouts over time, you know, it gives you a bit of a soft landing, as you start to figure out what you know, the next opportunity is gonna be.
Jason Gillikin: Alright, Brian and, Mark, I’ll get you out of here on these last two questions. So when you sold the business, you got a little bit of cash, Brian, how did you celebrate? What was a purchase that you made?
Brian Short: That’s funny, nothing.
Jason Gillikin: Nothing, that’s exciting.
Brian Short: You know, my wife asked me the same thing. Are you gonna go out and get a new car? The answer is, “No”. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s cash. And as a serial entrepreneur, and Mark and I are having these conversations. In fact, we have a call right after this. What do we do to deploy the cash to continue making money? That’s how I look at it. So it’s not like we got all this cash and we’re gonna go out and party. So that’s the reason for my answer straight up. So, for me, it’s all about what can I do to make some more money and who knows maybe we’ll get with Website Closers and see if they’ve got a smaller web business that we can partake in.
Jason Gillikin: Always serial entrepreneur. Mark, what about you? Did you buy anything or just like, now let me find the next business?
Mark Soberman: Took the private jet to Vegas. That was the first thing I did, lost it all. And now I got to work for Brian.
Brent Fisher: Mark said one of the funniest things. I don’t think we were waiting with the day we closed we were waiting on the wire transfers up the nest, got the wire yet. And he talks back no standing by at the blackjack table.
Mark Soberman: I kept canceling the jest, it was on and on.
Brent Fisher: Yeah, cancelling the jet and re-ice the champagne.
Mark Soberman: So now for me, Brian’s exactly right. I don’t know, I already have a good life. So I just kind of continuing doing that I’ve done some travels when I was doing travels before, throughout this whole soul deal I was traveling. So just kind of continued with that. The fun part now has been figured out how to deploy the capital. Now we want to have some passive income as well. So figure out where we can deploy the capital where it’s passive. And then obviously save some of the capital for something that is you know, that’s not passive. That’s going to have some good cash flow. So that’s exactly right. It may be something from Website Closers. It will absolutely be something online. So yeah, no real exciting big purchases. But, you know, I think kind of like Brian, I’ve got really what I need at this point. It’s just a matter of, you know, finding some of those opportunities. So a little bit in real estate, there’s been some things that we’ve already made some moves on.
Jason Gillikin: Awesome. Always looking for the next thing. Well, guys, thank you so much for sharing your story. Brian, how can listeners connect with you?
Brian Short: You can email me at [email protected].
Jason Gillikin: Cool, Mark?
Mark Soberman: I am markassetnetpicks.com. So I’m still there.
Jason Gillikin: All right, awesome. Well, guys, I appreciate the time today. What a great story. And I can’t wait to see what you build next.
Brian Short: Thanks, Jason.
Mark Soberman: Yeah, thanks so much.
Jason Gillikin: Alright, that was Mark Silverman and Brian Short. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
Thanks everyone for listening to this episode of the Deal Closers Podcast, brought to you by WebsiteClosers.com. If you like this show, be sure to rate us, write a review, press the follow button, or share with your network.
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This episode was edited and produced by Earfluence.
I’m Jason Gillikin, and we’ll see you next on the Deal Closers Podcast!