How I Bought a Company As a 21-year-old

Photo by Ben Stern on Unsplash

How I Bought a Company As a 21-year-old

The complete story and my plans for the future

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When I was planning this post, I expected this to be a long post, but actually, I doubt that’s necessary. My story is basic and very straightforward. In fact, I think everyone could have done this. I am 21 years old, and I just bought Cronly. This is my story.

My background story

In March 2020, I started working as the first developer at a Dutch startup in the Prop tech business. As the team quickly grow, my role shifted from a developer to that of a CTO. One and a half year later, I’ve decided that I want to work on my own projects. I wanted to take on bigger challenges and work on more than just the software of a company. I’m also interested in the business behind it, the marketing, the contact with clients and all the other things that come with building your own company.

For that reason, I quit my job and registered at the local Chamber of Commerce as a freelancer, to cover my expenses. In the time I have left, I want to build my company. More about my goals can be read in my previous blog post.

Browsing MicroAcquire

A few months ago, I signed up on MicroAcquire. I figured it would be better to buy an already validated business model. It could also save me serious time that I would have to spend on development. Something that I, even though I am a developer, don’t necessarily enjoy doing.

The past year, I saved up some money. Looking back, I wasted tens of thousands of dollars on a costly lifestyle, but luckily, I was also able to save some money, part of which I was willing to spend on this project. This was my first filter: I only wanted to see startups that had an asking price with a maximum of 20,000 dollars.

For those of you who aren't on MicroAcquire: get on board! It's fun! Even if you don't intend to buy (or sell) anything, it's still great to see what others are building. It's truly a fascinating world.

There are numerous products on there that have never earned a cent, for example. They were built with the sole purpose of being sold to someone who wants to skip the initial development process.

Screenshot 2022-01-07 at 23-30-14 MicroAcquire, the #1 Startup Acquisition Marketplace.png

This is one of those products. Personally, I am not a big fan of those. I think that validation of your business idea is the most important step of the business process, and I think those products lack that. On the other hand, you could, of course, try to validate the idea before actually buying it.

Adding filters

As I was mostly interested in companies that have already proven their product and business model, I added another filter: I only wanted to see companies that made over $1 of ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue).

Lastly, I added another filter: I only wanted to see products in the category SaaS and MicroSaaS. I didn't feel comfortable buying a company in a sector I have no experience in.

After adding those filters, it was time to look into the available products.

I estimate I have shown interest in almost 20 products before finally settling on Cronly. There were multiple things that triggered me:

  • Some companies had a valuation that, I thought, was too low. An example of this was an event organization platform. The valuation was less than 2.8x the ARR.
  • Other companies had a product that I fell in love with. I thought their product was genius or extremely well-built.
  • Some companies had a great business model. Their pricing was unique, or they were targeting an underserved market.

Many of these companies, I contacted. Some seemed desperate and kept spamming me after I contacted them. I immediately cancelled my connection with those sellers. Others weren't able to convince me of their product or business model. Many times, this was due to them thinking that they were way better than the competition, without being able to critically look at their own product.

Some companies, I simply wasn't able to buy. One example is Emojics. I was too slow with deciding, and then the company was sold to another buyer. Luckily, I later learned coincidentally that it was sold to Ch Daniel, who I admire. So, that's alright.

Buying Cronly

Eventually, I stumbled upon Cronly. A company that hyper specializes in one specific use case and does that very well. Cronly is a SaaS that allows you to manage your cron jobs in the cloud with built-in monitoring (or use its monitoring for your local cron jobs).

The product does have some flaws and there's a lot of room for improvement, but it has paying clients (some for years) without having any churn. It's clearly doing something right.

I talked to the buyer, which was easy since we are both from the same country, and learned that he wanted to sell Cronly because he didn't want his time to be spent on marketing. That confirmed my belief that the limited growth of Cronly wasn't due to the product itself, but due to marketing and communication.

That was exactly what I was looking for! I told him that, if he wanted, I could get him his asking price within 24 hours if he wanted, which was $3,500. He already had an offer for that amount, so I matched that in euros instead of dollars.

We had a call while I was on vacation in Rome and the deal was closed. I just bought my first company while on a holiday.

The transfer

A week after our deal, we had another online call to transfer everything to me. For Cronly, this meant:

  • Domain names
  • Email addresses
  • VPS
  • Codebase
  • Stripe
  • Twitter account (follow us!)
  • Existing integrations (such as Slack and Telegram)
  • And probably numerous other things that I am currently forgetting

This went perfectly and was finished within an hour. I quickly edited the website to fix a few minor typos, changed some old details to mine (such as the bank account on Stripe, the details on the website, etc.) and told you guys that I was the new owner of Cronly.

Your response

I was truly astounded by your response! I received over 100,000 impressions on Twitter and dozens of messages from all kinds of people. My account grew with hundreds of followers. I got people who offered to help with product development, people who offered marketing advice and audits, and people who just wanted to give their feedback on the current product.

Some of you even registered immediately and set up their first cronjob monitoring, which is truly outstanding.

I also got invited to a legendary podcast (but I'll tell more about that next month) and I will be writing a guide with a successful seller on MicroAcquire about the acquisition process. We do not yet know when we'll finish that, but we hope to do so in the next month.

Plans for Cronly

Now that I am officially the owner of Cronly, it is time for me to think about plans for the future. As I've explained before, I don't want to change too much about the product. There are a few things that I want to change, based on your requests and feedback, but those do not have my ultimate priority:

  • Change the registration process. Currently, you receive a randomly generated password in your email. Let's be honest: that sucks.
  • Allow callbacks for successful (and unsuccessful) cronjobs. A user told me that he wanted to rebuild his page after his cronjob finished getting new data. I think this makes a lot of sense and could help developers immensely.
  • Allow easy test runs of cronjobs. Now you just have to schedule a cronjob a minute into the future to see if everything works correctly.

Regarding marketing, I also want to do a few things:

  • Set up a blog with information about cron jobs and the monitoring of those.
  • Write tutorials about typical use cases for cronjobs and how to set up effective monitoring.
  • Develop more integrations to get developers up to speed faster.
  • Improve the SEO on the current website.
  • Prepare a ProductHunt launch. The product has never been launched there before.

As you see, these are not your typical marketing plans. However, I truly believe that developers have another way of picking their tools, and I want Cronly to be the easiest and friendliest tool they know. Every developer I know, picks their tools based on positive experiences or recommendations from friends and colleagues.

That's it for now!

If there's anything you'd like to say about Cronly: please do! 🙏

I really need your feedback. Cronly is built to improve your lives, and that will remain my goal. I can only do that if I know what you guys (and girls) want from me. Suggestions, ideas and critic are always welcome, and my DMs are always open.