How to get (micro) acquired?

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As part of our Checkout X pivoting efforts, we decided to try building a completely new product - Vanga AI.
Sparing the details, Vanga AI ultimately failed to have the revolutionary impact on the Shopify Ecosystem that we’d initially hoped for, however, we still managed to build a solid product with a growing customer base.
I’d heard about in the past, so when I decided to move away from the Shopify App building business, I figured it was worth the shot.
So 18 months after its inception, Vanga AI got officially acquired on 🎉.
If you’re considering selling your SaaS business in the near future, I hope this article can give you some actionable tips on getting acquired:

Who’s this article for?

I’m writing from the perspective of a SaaS founder with growing revenue and customer base - actively looking to sell the business.
  • Marketplaces like work best for SaaS projects looking to exit somewhere between $10k - $5M
  • Over $5-$10M you’re probably looking for strategic buyers or private equity funds, so it’s best to hire an M&A advisor. ( I assume )
  • For pre-revenue SaaS projects - revenue is the most important factor for those kinds of acquisitions. If the revenue is zero it’s going to be hard to sell a half-baked product for money. ( Though, I’m sure there are exceptions )

Managing expectations

As members of the startup community, it’s easy to look at the successful moonshot stories and multimillion “seed round” valuations, and expect that any exit means you get to buy a private jet.
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I agree, my fellow aspiring entrepreneur “PLAYUH”, private jets are cool and I honestly hope you get there, however, you know what else is cool → a house 🏡, the freedom to travel the world 🌍, getting rewarded for your extra hard work 💪, this kind of stuff. Those days we tend to forget that a million dollars are A MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS 💰 - a life-changing amount for most people.
My point being that, only 1% of the startups will make it big, but even if you don’t make the 1% you can still get acquired at a reasonable valuation.
In this context, a reasonable valuation is usually somewhere between 2x-5x ARR
  • Unlike traditional acquisitions, buyers on platforms like are opportunity driven - they usually don’t get strategic value from your SaaS but rather want to acquire a business at a fair price.
  • Buyers need to account for the risk of everything going to shit 💩, while hoping they’ll manage to grow the business and make a profit.
  • Buyers are not investors
    • Their acquisition money is not going into the business, but to your pocket.
    • The acquisition money is just the start, they’ll also need to pay for all expenses from now onwards.

Planning to sell your SaaS in the future?

If you’re not quite ready to sell your business yet but you want to sell at a later stage, it’s better to start preparing now:

Prepare P&L reports on a monthly basis

Monitoring your P&L is essential for your business anyways, but let’s be honest - we’ve all been a bit sloppy with our accounting. If you want to sell - buyers will want to see how the company was performing historically, so there’s one more reason to act like an adult and keep excellent track of your finances. ( There are a ton of templates online )

Create proper documentation

Another essential business practice: creating documentation. Yet, every company relies on folklore ( knowledge transferred from employee to employee ) more or less. Push yourself to create documentation - it matters a ton once you want to sell the company.
  • Document processes
  • Write good help articles
  • Write tests and technical docs

Consider your business model

Not all revenue is made equal. There is a hierarchy of revenue:
  1. Recurring revenue
  1. Usage-based revenue
  1. One-off purchases / Service revenue
Buyers want predictable revenue. In the end, they’re evaluating your business based on how much it makes. If you plan to sell your business in the future, consider pushing your revenue toward the recurring type.

Preparation for listing your business

Ready to sell? You need to prepare the following documentation:

P&L Statements

Prepare P&L Statements for your business
  • Yearly P&L Statements for the whole history of your business
  • Monthly P&L Statements for the last 12-24 months

Detailed Growth report

From my experience, most of the questions you’ll get will be regarding the growth of the business as buyers will probably want to keep growing it and they will want to be able to make an accurate projection of the business in the near future.
Try to be as explicit as possible about your growth. This will prove that you know what you’re doing and assure potential buyers their investment won’t regress after the acquisition.
Example documents you can create:
  • Current customer numbers - Number of customers, MRR, Trials, Expected revenue, etc
  • Acquisition channels, cost per acquisition, etc - are they repeatable?
  • Activation metrics
  • Customer & Revenue churn
  • Etc


As mentioned above - you need documentation on how your business runs. Process documentation, help center articles, tech documentation etc.

Assets list and transfer plan

What are you actually selling?
Are you selling the company or just the assets?
In many cases, it’s much easier to just make an Asset Purchase Agreement and transfer the assets, without transferring company ownership. That’s especially true if the buyer is in another country or/and you don’t have employees.
Do you have employees?
Are they going to keep working in the business after the sale? How would that work?
Do you want to stay in the business for a period?
Many buyers prefer to keep the founder working on the business at least for a period. Are you ok with that?
How are you going to transfer the digital assets?
What are your digital assets?
  • Your codebase
  • Your hosting account
  • Your domains
  • Your slack/notion/helpdesk
  • Your Shopify account
  • etc
Make a list of everything that you’ll need to transfer and plan on how it can be done. Some changes may require additional dev work.

Set a valuation

Setting the right valuation is crucial to generate interest from potential buyers.
Reasonably priced companies attract interest - badly priced ones don’t.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to collaborate with the buyer, so you need someone who’s serious and business-savvy. It’s best to offer a good deal ( for both sides ) and have a choice of buyer.
Factors to consider when setting a valuation:
  • Determination to sell
    • How determined are you to sell the company? Is it a sale at all costs?
    • Is there a minimum amount you’re looking for?
  • How fast do you need to sell?
    • Do you need to finish the sale in the next 3 months?
    • Can you continue growing the business and try again at a later stage?
  • Will you keep working in the business?
  • Will there be employees that will continue working in the business?
  • Revenue & type of revenue?
    • Is the revenue recurring?
    • Is the revenue usage-based?
    • Is it one-time purchases or service revenue?
  • Growth rate?
  • Profit
    • Is the business profitable?
    • What’s the profit margin?
  • Intellectual property
    • Codebase
      • How complex is the product to build?
      • How complex is the product to maintain?
      • Are there issues with the product that need to be fixed?
    • Other assets?
      • What other assets do you have?
      • Marketing assets? Social media following, mailing lists etc?
      • Patents, trademarks?
      • Other stuff?
How I valued Vanga AI
Facts I took into consideration
  • I was determined to sell in the next 3 months
    • I had accepted a new position ( which ironically fell through 😄 ) so I needed to sell ASAP
  • There was no team coming with the asset
    • I wasn’t willing to keep working on the project
    • We’d already disbanded the team as everyone wanted to pursue new ventures
  • The business was growing 30% month over month
  • The business wasn’t profitable
    • There was 80% gross margin
    • The salaries of the team pushed the business on the red
  • 60% of our revenue came from usage
My valuation formula:
Last month’s revenue * 24 months
  • As we were growing 30% MoM it didn’t make sense to take ARR into consideration, instead I used our last month’s revenue ( which happened to be December 22’ )
  • As a usage-based e-commerce SaaS, November and December are the strongest months of the year. I knew buyers would expect a drop in usage revenue in the following months.
  • I believed a fair valuation is somewhere between 24x-36x last month’s revenue - I opted for the low end as I wanted to sell fast and be able to pick a buyer.
  • In the end, the valuation equaled around 5x our Annual Revenue

Where to list your startup

  • I found the Vanga AI buyer from there
  • Very active for Shopify Apps and SaaS businesses in general
  • This article is based on their process
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  • For Shopify apps only
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Flippa / Empire Flippers
  • Other marketplaces for online businesses, I don’t think they’re very popular among SaaS
  • I tried Empire Flippers, but their onboarding didn’t make sense for my business
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App aggregators
  • There are a couple of Shopify App aggregators that you can approach directly
  • For Shopify apps only
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The acquisition process

Getting listed

Every platform has a slightly different questionnaire. I recommend’s guide on listings:
Here are a couple of questions that you’ll need to provide answers to:
Business description
  • What do you do?
  • What features do you have?
  • Who’s your target customer?
  • etc
Business size
  • Revenue
  • Customers
  • etc
Valuation justification
  • How did you get to that valuation?
  • Why is your business worth that amount?
What are you selling?
  • List assets you’re selling
Why are you selling?
  • Explain why you wish to sell your business.
  • It’s very important to be honest here - buyers need to be careful for businesses that are built on shaky grounds so they need a realistic reason for the sale.
Your timeline
  • Pick a reasonable timeline for:
    • First calls
    • Getting offers
    • Deciding on which offer to pick
  • This timeline can be extended but you need to have it. Otherwise, any buyer that gives you an offer will pressure your for an answer ASAP.

Evaluating buyers

Selling your business is a project on its own. You’ll need to collaborate with the buyer and they’ll need to come up with their end of the deal. A bad buyer can fail your acquisition, so choose carefully.
I recommend that you spend some time looking them up and talking to them.
A couple of things to consider:
  • Do they have any past acquisitions?
  • What’s their background? What’s their team?
  • Are they asking you adequate questions?
  • Are they thinking critically and asking hard questions?
  • Do they look like they know what they’re doing?
  • Do they look serious and reliable?
  • What’s their game? Why are they looking into buying your business?

Field offers

If you start getting actual offers - congrats! 👏
Now which one to choose? There are a couple of factors:
Purchase amount
  • What’s the total amount you’ll be getting?
  • What are the terms of the deal? Is it all cash on purchase?
  • Buyers may offer delayed payment, performance based pay, stock swap etc
    • Consider the main risk on non-immediate cash - there’s no escrow so if the buyer doesn’t follow through on their commitment you’ll need to sue them - which can be unrealistic depending on the sum and the jurisdiction.
    • Beware of stock swaps and performance based pay - their value is beyond your control. Consider the risk vs reward probability if you accept such terms.
  • Everything I mentioned in the previous section. Do you trust those guys they’ll follow through? Which offer seems the most reliable?
When I talk about trusting the buyer keep in mind - you can never trust a stranger completely, but you can’t sell the business without trusting anyone. Follow your instincts - if there are no red flags and the other side looks legit - go for it.

Due Diligence

Once you accept an offer the buyer will perform due diligence - they’ll need to validate that everything you told them is true. In the meanwhile, it’s not possible to negotiate with other buyers from
Discuss with the buyer what they need and how to give them access - but beware - you can’t protect everything. Sign an NDA before going forward, as there will be confidential information being shared. It’s not possible to audit your codebase without getting the codebase, for example.
My advice for this stage is: Be patient, transparent and responsive. Most of the times there will be small inaccuracies and that’s all right - make sure the buyer is aware of everything before their purchase - not after.

Escrow and Transfer

If the Due Diligence goes well, it’s time to sign your purchase agreement and proceed to escrow.
For those unfamiliar, escrow is a third-party arbiter that will hold the money until the assets are transferred and the deal is completed. It gives security to both sides.
Here’s how it works:
  1. Terms are set in the escrow provider ( amount, assets to be transferred, conditions )
  1. The buyer sends the money to the escrow provider
  1. The escrow provider confirms they received the money
  1. The seller transfers the assets to the buyer
  1. The buyer confirms they received the assets to the escrow provider
  1. The escrow provider sends the money to the seller
  1. The seller receives the money
This whole process takes time. For us, it took around 3 weeks, mainly because held the buyer’s payment for a week and Shopify was very slow to transfer the app to the new buyer.
The asset transfer step is just… bizarre. You realise how weird SaaS businesses really are. In a traditional business sale you would be giving access to funds, keys to buildings/machines, introducing key employees - not in SaaS. The SaaS process is just sharing passwords and clicking “transfer account” on some websites.
This is the moment you get to realise that whoever holds a couple of key passwords is the real company owner → the cap table doesn’t matter.
⚠️ Be really careful with the assets transfer as there are things that can go wrong. In my case, with the transfer of the infrastructure accounts, somehow the infrastructure configs changed resulting in a complete crash of the app. It was a fun sleepless night of attempting fixes 😰

Acquired 💰

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If you managed to go through everything - congratulations 🎉.
You’ve made an exit! 🚀

On’s pricing update

While writing the article, announced they will start charging a 4% commission on a completed sale, here’s the update:
When I sold Vanga AI, the service was mostly free, but the update would not change my decision to list there. The reality is that and SASI were the only places I got offers from. helped me with finding a buyer and giving me structure on how to sell the business.
I completely support their decision on monetisation and I hope they keep growing so they can provide more and more opportunities for entrepreneurs like me and you. 🤘
p.s. I am not affiliated with, SASI or any of the other solutions - but happy to talk about them 🙂!

I hope this guide was useful to you. I share my startup experiences on a monthly basis. If you want to be updated when I post new stuff, subscribe to my newsletter or follow me on Twitter / LinkedIn.