TwitJump Tweets With Twitter

How To Start & Sell A Company In 6 Months (2)

In my last post I told you about the origins of TwitJump. I also started to get into some of the exciting things that happened shortly after launch.

That was only the beginning!

I previously mentioned that as things started to progress, I doubled down. This meant more money invested, more developer hours used, more customers signing up and thankfully, more revenue and profit. The model was working, the ideas and comments kept coming in, and the customer count increased more and more each day.  We now had thousands of business customers from all over the world. We continued to do no advertising of any kind – but customer count grew rapidly nonetheless.  The trends were certainly encouraging. The combination of a customer built product with low operating costs and high growth made for a business that was becoming more and more attractive to industry insiders who were watching what I was doing.

I was anxious to take TwitJump to the next level.  While I had some good ideas for it, I decided from day one that I wasn’t going to be the one to really try to push things into a big business.  While I love Twitter and find great utility in it, I didn’t want to work on TwitJump full-time.  I often joked it was an expensive and profitable hobby that was quickly becoming a serious business. I started meeting with a lot of talented people about buying and/or running TwitJump.  The list of people I was talking to was very flattering – TJ had some good momentum and it was being noticed.  Things were progressing nicely and then the “TechCrunch Effect” happened.

I’ll never forget being in a meeting and getting an email from a friend saying “hey, nice article on TechCrunch, that’s awesome!”.  I had no idea what he was talking about as I knew no one at TechCrunch and I had not been contacted by them. I should note also that earlier that same day I received a term sheet out of the blue to acquire TwitJump.  I thought it was a bit odd to suddenly receive the term sheet, but after reading the article, it became clear to me why.  TwitJump was now a publicly known ‘hot commodity’.  Here is a link to the article (we are listed in #4):

TechCrunch Top Ten M & A Deals for 2010

Within a few days I received emails and phone calls from some big companies outside of Utah.  I also sped up talks with the current ones I was already negotiating with.  Things were a bit crazy, but really fun.  I felt (and feel) very fortunate to have had such quality companies and people expressing real interest in acquiring TwitJump.  Some of the offers included more cash than others.  Some included more stock.  Some included me moving.  Some included me continuing to help with TwitJump, some did not.  As it came time to act on this great momentum that TwitJump was receiving, I had immense clarity on what was the right fit for TwitJump and for me.  Since TwitJump had no employees, no investors and no office, it really was all about what was best for TwitJump and Alex.

I’ve never had such autonomy when selling a business before, so it was a different angle to view selling from.

As the title of my blog states, I am an entrepreneur.  I love other entrepreneurs.  I like to be around them.  I like to talk to them.  I like to work with them.  I like to help them.  It’s in my DNA.  It’s a core part of my personality and a true passion, plain and simple.  So when Lendio (formerly FundingUniverse) put together an offer that included me becoming a founding partner in the Company and a member of the Board of Directors, it was the absolute perfect fit.  It didn’t hurt that Lendio was doubling revenues and profits every quarter and that I believed we’d launch a new product that would catapult us into a national business. Having the opportunity to take a key leadership role as we built the Lendio SaaS platform was much more exciting to me than any other offer. I also got to stay in Utah, which I learned was something I would not budge on.

The timing and fit were ideal, so to the surprise of many I chose Lendio over the other more ‘well known’ suitors.  One important note – I’m not a philanthropist, the Lendio offer was competitive economically and otherwise.  We had a MONSTER year in 2009. 2010 promptly blew away 2009 and 2011 is killing it again; all of which helps me confirm further that I made the right personal and financial decision. Here is the press release about the deal, as well as a nice follow-up article from TechCrunch:

Social Media Acquisition Next Growth Step for FundingUniverse

FundingUniverse Buys TwitJump To Help Startups Leverage Twitter

So TwitJump went from an idea to sold in about 6 months.  I certainly have had businesses fail in that period of time, but never succeed in that short amount of time.  I learned a lot from this experience, and I hope that the account above has been useful to some of you. I welcome your comments or questions.

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • Ross Walker

    I love to hear the story behind the story. Great post and thanks for sharing personal stuff.


    • Alex Lawrence

      Russ: Glad you liked it. I tried to be reasonably detailed and appropriately brief. Tough combo. Anyhow, thanks for reading and commenting. On an aside, how goes the latest internet marketing plan?

      • Ross Walker

        Plan is coming along. For the last 24 hours I have been banging my head agains the Sales Chanel. Not happy with the current one and have not yet found a better one. Aurgh.

        • Alex Lawrence

          Ross – keep us posted. Frustrating but ultimately worth it!

  • Bryson

    Good stuff. I didn’t realize that’s how it all went down with twitjump and funding universe. You say you had no advertising whatsoever? It was 100% word of mouth?

    • Alex Lawrence

      Bryson – Not a single dime!

  • This is awesome Alex! It shows that you solve a pain, thats why your product was able to make it big 🙂 If I may ask you, how do you feel after selling Twitjump? Thanks so much! P:S I’m still waiting patiently for your reply. Hope to hear from you soon. Thanks 🙂

    • Alex Lawrence

      Samuel – glad you found it helpful. I hope to get to those questions soon!

  • What a cool and inspirational story! Love it.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Mandi – thanks 🙂 You are quite the cool and inspirational story yourself!

  • Another great article, Alex. Do you go into every new business with the idea of selling it in the end? What about the businesses that you are truly passionate about? Why not hold on to them?

    Sean MacKenzie

    • Alex Lawrence

      Sean – Thank you sir. I’d say that so far, yes, every business I have gotten into I’ve had the intention to sell it within 5 years or less. For me the passion isn’t as important as the timing. I’m not a “lifestyle” business type of guy. I’m sure glad others are though. Those kinds of companies are some of my favorites. I personally just wouldn’t like to own a larger business for a long period of time. I wouldn’t mind owning some small businesses for awhile though (family stuff, local shops, etc). They can be a fun legacy and good to teach kids how to work and so forth, but not really big money makers.

      • Hi Alex,

        Definitely interesting how people can vary in their reasons for starting – and selling – a business. I enjoy reading your blog and look forward to your next posting.

        Sean MacKenzie

        • Alex Lawrence

          Hey Sean – I’m glad that you are finding value in the posts. If you are thinking about selling a business, or do, let us know. Thanks again for reading and commenting.

  • Jedidiah Liu

    Love the story! Love the no advertising part even more!

    Wondering if I can bounce my business idea off you? Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Great tips for those who like to buy and sell companies. Insightful and helpful!

    • sorry…meant to write ‘start and sell’. Different animal!

      • Alex Lawrence

        Thanks for reading. Glad it was helpful!

  • Reading about business from an insider’s persective is always beneficial!

  • I am interested in the B.O.T. business model.  I’m very good at starting a company getting the first batch of customers on contracts with the fulfillment process in place and financial controls operating.  Then I totally want OUT.    I’m wondering how to find a steady stream of people who want to start a business, have no idea what to do next and would like a turn key business with  operations manual in place and support staff along with a small number of customers for proof of concept and a road map on how to take this ‘little business’ from $100,000 in revenue up to several million.   Right now I have 7 of these ‘little businesses’ running (each generating 10 to 200k in net profit annual) and can see where I could create 2 or 3 hundred more in different niches over the next 10 years.    The truth is I hate running a business but I love to start them.   Where can I find a list of people who want to own their own business is my big question.

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