Today we sit down with the anonymous buyer of the viral site PotatoParcel.com, which sold earlier this month for $42,000 on Flippa! In this article, the buyer gives us the inside scoop on Potato Parcel, his plans for the site going forward, and his experience as a web entrepreneur. This case study is a must-read for anyone dying to know more about the viral site that sold $60,000 worth of…potatoes.
Tell us about your background as web entrepreneur
I graduated from San Francisco State University (SFSU) with a degree in finance, and have employment background in retail management and software sales. Although Potato Parcel is my first web acquisition on Flippa, I have been building and running web businesses for about 2.5 years, and I already own a successful eCommerce site. When it comes to internet based businesses, I’d say online marketing is my biggest strength, as I’m proficient in many specialties including SEO, PPC, email, and affiliate marketing.
What brought you to Flippa?
I first heard of Flippa on a podcast called eCommerce Fuel with Andrew Youderian. I’m most interested in sites with high growth potential, something out of the norm, and something that I have the skills to make much larger than it was before. Admittedly, I’m not an everyday user of the marketplace, but I do check the site every now and again to see what kind of opportunities are available. When I find something I like, I place a bid. What I love about Flippa is that it makes the entire purchase process easy and fluid. It’s simple to communicate with the Seller, and the platform makes it simple to discover quality businesses for sale.
For those who don’t already know, tell us about PotatoParcel.com, what is the site about?
Potato Parcel is a quirky site where you can send anyone an anonymous (or not anonymous) message…on a potato. We’ve also added a service that allows you to upload image that can then be placed on your potato for special occasions. The idea behind the business is to make people laugh, and I think we do a good job of that. In any situation where people can send a postcard, happy birthday, get well soon, or congratulations card, they can send a potato instead – and it will be a lot more memorable.
From a business perspective, why did you ultimately decide to place a bid?
I saw an opportunity that, to me, was worth it enough to place a bid. I found it on the featured page, and was very impressed by the sales in the short lifespan of the business, and the media coverage that it had. It fit my personality, and it had room to grow in the US and internationally. Basically, this was exactly the type of business I had been looking for.
What are your plans for PotatoParcel.com moving forward?
Moving forward, the first order of business will be to make the sales process easier for customers. One thing I have learned about eCommerce over the years is that the easier you make it for a customer to complete a transaction, the higher the conversion rate. Along with some process side changes, we’ll also be releasing new products and implementing a strong long-term marketing strategy. Finally, we really want to focus heavily on the customer experience. That is, when someone gets a potato in the mail we want it to be a unique, enjoyable, and meticulously crafted experience that they will never forget.
Any advice for other web entrepreneurs looking buy websites?
Do your homework! Know what you are getting into before you buy a business. Ask all the questions you can think of, and don’t ever feel like you’re burdening the Seller. If you need more information and documentation, get it. If the Seller truly wants to sell their business, then they should have no problems heeding your requests. However, you should also show the Seller that you are serious. Lastly, it’s always easier to get a good read on someone when you can chat with them directly as opposed to over email.
Today we sit down with Alec Larson, a successful Flippa seller who has perfected a strategy for selling websites with no traffic or revenue. Alec gives us the scoop on what it takes to sell a startup valued primarily on potential, and how you can do the same thing.
Tell us about your background as a web entrepreneur
In the winter of 2010 my partner and I saw a need in the real estate market for aerial photographs. Over the next few months I was able to learn how to engineer, build, test and operate an 8-foot aerial helicopter drone that was able to successfully carry a DSLR camera, taking dozens of aerial pictures for local real estate agents. After the success of the drone project, I realized the need for a centralized source of qualified drone operators. Turning my efforts online, I built Aerial Connect, the first ever online drone-pilot directory.
What brought you to Flippa?
Just as Arial Connect got its legs off the ground, I hit a burnout. I was a single founder working on the site by myself, and I realized that it just wasn’t feasible without a team. Having made an account on Flippa a few months earlier, I was really curious to see how much I could get for Aerial Connect. I’d put a lot of hours into building the platform and designing the site, but it had almost no traffic and no revenue. Nonetheless, I decided to list it on Flippa, and the result exceeded my expectations. It ended with 11 bidders, 69 total bids, and sold for $2,050 after a two-week auction.
Now that you have sold AerialConnect.com, what’s next for you?
After the AerialConnect auction, I was inspired and decided to see if I could replicate what I’d just done with another listing. Since then I’ve had 6 more successful Flippa listings, below are examples of three of these:
- Night-Clubs.com: I bought the domain on Flippa for $47! Within one week I built a really great night club directory on it. Within two weeks I sold it for $1,000 – a very big win. After the site sold, I even had one user contact me via PM and offer $2,500 for it.
- GetFlightTraining.com: I created this flight school directory and sold it a month later for $500 and interestingly enough I was contacted through that listing by an entrepreneur who wanted to build a veterinarian directory. He said he loved my design work and asked if I could build his idea. I did.
- DroneTrades.com: As a used drone marketplace, DroneTrades was special because I established it in April 2015 and did a little marketing. I was able to get 5 users on board and even established a partnership with a reputable drone dealer. Eventually I listed it on Flippa and it sold for $1550.
I’ve had a few people notice my listings and ask me how they can start doing something similar. Having people reach out and inquire about my success on Flippa made me realize that the experience and knowledge I’ve gained could be valuable to others. So I’ve put together an in-depth Flippa training course. The course covers everything from the initial domain setup, to the entire development phase, to the Flippa sale.
How has your business philosophy contributed to your success?
It seems like more and more the idea of building a startup and cashing in big has become a bit of a trend lately, especially with millennials. I read a great quote that I’ve essentially lived by over the last few months:
“In a gold rush don’t dig for gold, sell the shovels”
While I’m not saying creating the next Instagram or Google is impossible, I’ve found that as a one-man operation, selling web development services, themes, plugins, design services, email services, and marketing services has a much higher success rate and can be just as rewarding. I’m thankful that I found Flippa because it has given me the opportunity to “sell the shovels.”
Any advice for web entrepreneurs looking sell websites on Flippa?
From my experience, there are a few main elements that make a successful Flippa listing. The following advice is geared towards selling a website very little traffic or revenue, if any, but I would imagine most of the concepts hold true even if you’re selling an established website.
1. A good idea in a trending industry: If you want to successfully sell a new startup on Flippa, focus on creating a great idea. When I initially came up with the idea of Aerial Connect, I knew that if I didn’t build a drone pilot directory someone else would, it was only a matter of time. Drones are trending, the whole industry is growing at staggering rates and the technology is solving problems and providing tremendous value. I think this concept boils down to three main elements
- Have a great idea
- Target trending industries
- Build products that work and solve real problems
2. The Pitch: Whenever I sell something on Flippa I spend a lot of time lot of time writing the listing description. It’s incredibly important to be transparent. If you’re doing something dodgy or trying to hide something material to the sale, someone will find out, and your reputation will be tarnished. That said, YOU SHOULD be passionate about what you’re selling. My passion for drones helped me go from just a basic developer selling a WordPress site to a guy who had a fundamental understanding of the drone industry and had built a really great startup for drone pilots.
3. No Reserve: Setting your Flippa auction to No Reserve is important for two reasons.
- It will sit in the reserve-met section on Flippa. At the time of this writing there are currently only 55 websites listed for sale in the reserve-met section and each one will get significant exposure. Getting onto this list greatly increases the number of views, watchers, and bids your listing will generate.
- It allows users to determine the actual value of your site. Having a reserve price or a buy it now price might filter out would be bidders. More bidders = higher activity on your listing. Higher activity on your listing = more views because it will be displayed in Flippa’s most active listings section.
So, that’s Alec’s story, and a glimpse into how he sells websites on Flippa with no traffic or revenue! What do you think? Drop in a comment below to let us know.
Today we sit down with Adam Persak and Michał Zubkowicz, two successful online entrepreneurs who purchased the SaaS site Muscula.com at auction on Flippa for $25,100! Adam and Michal give us the inside scoop on Muscula, what they’ll do with it moving forward, and their tips for other online entrepreneurs on Flippa.
Tell us about your background as web entrepreneurs
Our company, Universe Surf GmbH, has been present on the German market for over 15 years. We specialize in automating software development processes, as well as providing cloud services. Our team consists of people experienced in both corporate and small business. Though we mainly focus on internal projects relating to our existing sites, we occasionally make acquisitions as well.
How did you guys discover Flippa?
We were users of Muscula.com ourselves, and we discovered it was for sale through a banner on the site, which of course led us to Flippa. It was our very first website auction. Overall, we had a good experience with Flippa, and we’re certainly encouraged at the potential of enriching our website portfolio further through the platform.
Tell us about Muscula.com, what is the site about and why did you ultimately decide to place a bid?
What have you done with Muscula since you purchased it, and what are your plans for the site moving forward?
After we won the auction our Creative Director (Arthur Niźnikiewicz) began rebranding and improving the visual aspects of the site. Fast forward a few weeks later, and we now have a new logo and website design. The next step will be an intense marketing campaign. From a product standpoint, we are focused on implementing error prediction, which means that in addition to identifying and solving a client’s existing errors, we will also be able to help alert them to potential future errors. We think this this will be a significant advancement that will drive a lot of new interest.
Any advice or recommendations for other online entrepreneurs looking buy websites on Flippa?
Find sites you are passionate about. For example, before we discovered Muscula was for sale, we were using Muscula on a bunch of our own sites. This made the purchase easier because we were already intimately involved with the service and fundamentally understood the problem it solved. Of course, this is not to say that you should be a longtime user of any site you buy, but rather, if you are looking at buying a site (especially a SaaS site) you should understand how it works and you should make sure you believe in the service it offers.
Today we sit down with Christopher Tracy, who purchased the online business Trampolines.com at auction on Flippa in March for $81,500! In this article Christopher gives us the inside scoop on Trampolines.com, his plans for the site going forward, and his experience as an online entrepreneur. You don’t want to miss this one!
Tell us about your background as an online entrepreneur.
I think there’s a misconception that web entrepreneurs are always in small start-ups working in someone’s garage or basement. I’ve been actively involved with web ventures in one form or another since the “heydays” of 1999. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work at many great internet companies including America Online, Ancestry.com, NextCard.com, and most recently as CEO of One on One Marketing.
At these companies we were often looking to acquire other internet businesses and web properties. These experiences taught me how to evaluate websites, business models, and opportunities.
What brought you to Flippa?
I think Flippa is a the best platform if you’re interested in buying and selling online businesses and/or domain names. I don’t remember exactly how I first arrived at the site, but I think it’s a great resource, easy to use, and very informative.
Tell us about Trampolines.com, and why you ultimately decided to place a bid.
First off, if I had a quarter for each friend that said they had also considered buying this website, I think I’d have made my investment back already! The Trampolines.com URL is a great unique name in an industry that does not have many well-known brands. My kids teased me that for years that I would never own a trampoline. Several years ago we bought a house that had an in-ground trampoline and since then I’ve seen firsthand that it’s great product for the entire family!
It’s a gathering place for the kids, and it really provides a great workout. I truly believe that you should only invest in products and services that you believe in – so you can call me a trampoline convert! The prior owner of the website had other businesses and never had the chance to invest heavily into this business.
Ultimately, I bought this website because I believe in the products it sells and see an opportunity to invest and grow the business.
What have you done with the site since you bought it?
Well it’s only been a few week, but my business partner and I have been pretty busy. We migrated the site over to a premium ecommerce hosting site and completed the first phase of a web redesign. The prior site had issues with the shopping cart, and that’s a huge issue that’s been resolved. We were very careful to maintain the site content and link structures and so far, everything has held up well.
What are your plans for Trampolines.com moving forward?
There will be three main areas that we will be addressing over time. First, we will continue to invest in the actual site making sure we’ve nailed down the user experience and understand the core messaging for what our customers want and need. Secondly, we hope to expand the current product line. Lastly, with those two in place, we will invest in growing the traffic to the site.
Any due diligence tips for other web entrepreneurs looking to buy online businesses on Flippa?
First, I believe good investments come from disciplined decisions. The best way to do this is to have a framework in place to evaluate an opportunity well before you see it. This helps to remove the emotion from a decision. Web properties and online businesses have lots of data and buyers should always use that data (both quantitative and qualitative) as part of their investment decision. All that said, it’s rare that all the numbers will line up or even be available. In which case, an investor needs to also trust their instincts. Secondly, always evaluate the seller and their motives for selling. Reach out to the seller and have conversations about the business.
This is a really informative and important step in the process. Lastly, have conviction about why you are making your investment and your plans for the website. Use your due diligence period to affirm your investment thesis.
Over the past several months we’ve posted a bunch of case studies and interviews with website buyers, detailing some of the top entrepreneurs on Flippa and the high-end web businesses they have purchased. Today, we’re going to change gears for a bit and talk to someone on the other side of a transaction, a seller. Don’t miss this interview with Joel Gross, the seller of Digital-Auto-Gauges.com, an eCommerce site sold at auction on Flippa for $16,100!
Tell us about your background as web entrepreneur
I graduated from the University of Washington in 2006 with a B.A. in business and finance. I also have an extensive background in SEO and website design. In 2009, I founded CoalitionTechnologies.com, a digital marketing agency that has slowly grown from four people working in my 400 square foot apartment to 50 employees in a 5,000 square foot office space.
You recently sold Digital-Auto-Gauges.com for $16,100 on Flippa, can you tell us a little bit about the site and how you started it?
I built Digital Auto Gauges in 2008. It was the first eCommerce website that I had ever created. The site itself sells car gauges, mostly for commercial trucks, but also for mass production market trucks as well. I started the company with an idea from a buddy of mine who was interested in auto gauges and cars. After some research I discovered that this niche market didn’t have any strong competitors. Using the SEO skills I have learned over the years, I created an optimized site with unique content, and the business took off.
Why did you ultimately decide to put Digital Auto Gauges up for sale on Flippa?
Since DAG was a side-project I worked on in my free time, I slowly started paying less attention to it as my main business (Coalition Technologies) began to grow. For the last two years, I have not touched the site all. Because of this, it just made sense to sell, and I decided to auction the site on Flippa because the platform is easy to use and has an established userbase of high-net-worth buyers ready to scoop up quality web businesses.
Are you continuing to work with the new owner of the site?
I have worked with the buyer to transition the company, which he now has total control over. I have made myself available to him for the next couple months for questions in case anything arises, but for all intents and purposes the transition has been finalized. I am happy with the price I received from the auction, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the changes the new owner will implement.
Now that you’ve sold Digital Auto Gauges, do you have any tips for other web entrepreneurs looking to sell websites on Flippa?
I would say the best tip for anyone looking to sell websites, is to make sure that the website is well managed and organized. If you have a high-quality site and are able to effectively convey that to buyers and provide proof of financials and traffic, the process will go smoothly.