In August 2017, Daniel Adonai sold his online business, Nomad Coffee Club, on Flippa for $17,050 (8.5x it’s annual net profit!). We recently caught up with him to discuss how he grew his business and his experiences selling it on Flippa.
Tell us about your background as a web entrepreneur (how many businesses have you started and/or operated? Do you manage a portfolio of sites?)
Sure! So I got started around 3 years ago. I was already looking for ideas to start something and then I read a Reddit post about someone starting a subscription based company. I’m like, I can do this and that was it. I literally went and started looking for suppliers that day. It’s been an amazing journey the last few years and now I’m addicted.
Nomad was my first company and for the last 1 and half years. I’ve also been running EastAfricana.com. I kind of follow a similar format with my businesses where I make them super easy to run. I was working on Nomad about 30 minutes per week and it was doing well. I do this by creating instruction manuals and then hire freelancers to do the tasks and maintain the manuals. I basically try to outsource everything I can, fulfillment being a huge one.
This gives me more time to focus on the important tasks and work on new ideas, which I’m doing right now.
What is your education/employment/career background?
I am a mechanical engineering graduate. I started working right out of school and ended up starting Nomad 4 months after I graduated. Being an engineer has been a blessing and a curse. I was really good at the analytical stuff, but tend to overthink every situation. It was rough in the beginning, but it’s gotten better over time.
I was actually working full time for the first 2 years. At one point in time I was working and managing both companies on the side, it was fun!
You sold nomadcoffeecub.com for $17,050, which gives it a staggering sale price of 8.5x its annual profit! Tell us about why the business sold for such a high multiple and what the sale process was like.
There are a couple reasons, and I talked about them in depth in my blog post. It has to do with how easy the business is to run, finances, branding, and potential. Mine did all these very well.
The business was super simple to run and took 30 minutes to run when I sold it. This task was being handled by the freelancer because there were detailed instructions on how to do it, which by the way was also included in the sale.
Financials, this basically means is the business making money? Yes and yes. The business was profitable in the last 12 months and self-sustaining. So this is also a good sign.
Branding was huge because Nomad had a very personal touch to it. I worked hard on this and made sure the tone of voice, the packaging, the service was all following along one brand.
Last was potential and specialty coffee is one of the highest growing sectors of the coffee industry so this was a no-brainer.
Everything I had been doing for the last three years just made it an attractive deal. Then all the selling process included was me making sure I had all this information readily available and being as thorough as possible in my listing.
I spent a lot of time on my listing because I wanted to answer every single question the buyer/bidder could potentially ask. Then I made myself available to answer the over 200 messages and emails I received about the listing. It kind of showed that I was as dedicated to the sale as I was to the business.
And all the hard work paid out, literally.
I noticed you had a $6,000 reserve. Were you surprised it sold for $17,050?
Haha, I definitely was! $6,000 was the average these businesses go for so that’s why it was the reserve. I passed the reserve in like 9 days and it literally doubled in price in the last 5 hours. I remember, I received a bid when there was 90 second left for the listing to close. It was nuts because two bidders doubled it in 5 hours and I just remember my phone going crazy getting pinged with the new prices.
It was an amazing feeling, to say the least. I had created this business out of nothing and here it was getting sold for such a huge multiple. I was happy and proud because I put a lot of working into it.
Tell us about NomadCoffeClub.com. How did it get started and how did it grow?
So after deciding to start it, I started working on the site and learning (googling) everything required to set up the business. Then I literally just set up the site and started to think about marketing after. It was rough in the beginning because I had no experience in sales or marketing, I was just an engineer.
Everything I did (ads, influencer marketing, social) either completely failed or just had horrible returns. A lot of it had to do with the learning curve I was going through, but it got better and I got better.
Eventually, all the influencer marketing and partnerships I was doing started driving traffic and more sales to my site. Then I started cold emailing businesses and started selling them office coffee. That also started generating revenue and then it became predictable.
From there I started optimizing things. I outsourced shipping and started making processes. That allowed me to focus on growing the business.
Why did you decide to sell NomadCoffeClub.com?
Two things, it was time to move on and because I was also getting busier with another business. I learned a lot from Nomad and it was time for someone else to make it grow even further. And to be honest, I really just enjoy the starting part of a business much more.
What brought you to Flippa? (How did you find it? What prompted you to sell?)
Actually, someone referred me it to me. I had used other sites to try and value my site before, but that was just out of curiosity.
Anyways, I looked through Flippa and figured out the selling process. I liked the fact that I would get tons of visibility (11,000+ views on my listing) and I wanted a set process to doing the deal. I tried to reach out to people to buy the business, but it was always very open-ended and could fall through at any time.
So I liked what I saw and the cost structure was fair so I was sold.
You worked with Lovely Ramos, one of our account managers. Can you tell us the experience of working with her and the rest of our account management team?
Lovely is the single greatest thing to happen to my sale! She was freaking amazing! She helped get my post seen by thousands of people, optimized my listing and even helped me out with the closing part, which was interesting.
With her help I was featured on the homepage, featured on editor’s pick and so many other things. The response was very fast and obviously, I had a direct line to someone that is very familiar with my listing.
Working with her really made my Flippa experience that much better.
Was this the only online business you operate? (If not, feel free to talk about other projects).
This was the first, but right now I have www.eastafricana.com and also working on other projects. I started East Africana, because there was a need for it. Everything I messed up on with Nomad, I fixed with East Africana. It’s has been very successful, even though it’s super niche. Right now it’s the largest online retailer for East African jewelry and I’m very proud of it.
Aside from that, I’m starting to focus more and more on software development right now. I loved doing product businesses, but now I want to give myself a new challenge. Plus I have tons of ideas I want to implement.
What advice would you give to those looking to sell their websites and online businesses?
A couple things, first build a solid business that’s easy to run. A big factor when selling is the ease of continuity. Most buyers I talked with didn’t want another full-time job, but something they can learn quickly and run on the side.
If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown, I wrote a blog post about my experience. Links are in the next section.
You have your own blog post talking about the entire sale process, your thoughts on Flippa, and more. Tell us about the post and how can our users read it themselves (link is fine).
Yeah, I think this was a unique experience and people can learn from it. So I actually wrote a two-part post. The first part talks about how I actually listed my site and how I wrote a compelling listing.
The second part talks about the closing and things to look out for. So there is a ton of information there for both first-time buyers/sellers and more experienced ones.