I’ve always wanted to buy a coffee shop, and if I ever make enough money to do so (blogger to VC, anyone?), Leeds, UK-based Bizdaq could just be the startup to make it happen. Aiming to disrupt the traditional ‘business transfer market’, the platform lets those with an existing small to medium-sized business sell to those seeking to own one of their own. These range from coffee shops to hairdressers, or any type of small business, including startups.
In some ways, it’s similar to the way online estate agents (or realtors) are attacking the traditional house buying market, by not only moving most of the process online, but also in terms of cost. Bizdaq charges a monthly subscription to business owners who want to list their business for sale. This is in sharp contrast to 15 per cent commission and, sometimes, 12 month contracts that traditional brokerage companies operate.
And the startup’s founder, Sean Mallon, should know. After dropping out of university, he set up his own brokerage firm in 2007, at the age of 21, and to date has helped over 1,200 business owners exit their business. So he knows better than most people the market Bizdaq is aiming to disrupt, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors. The startup has closed a £1 million funding round, led by Tim Whitworth, co-founder and former chief executive of clothing chain Republic.
Specifically, Mallon says there are traditionally two ways that small business owners go about selling their businness. The first is to use a business transfer agent, who will hand-hold you through the entire sales process, but typically charges around 15 per cent of the final sale price. The second option is to go it alone, which saves money but comes with “obvious risks”.
“Particularly with younger entrepreneurs and business founders, they’re used to using online services for everything from buying groceries to preparing legal documents. Bizdaq’s SaaS model simplifies the buying and selling process, giving users everything they need to know, from valuation to completion,” he adds.
To that end, the site features businesses for sale listings, searchable by price, location, business type, turnover, and other details, such as type of ownership/lease. In addition, there’s a ‘Seller Dashboard’ from which business sellers can manage their listing, as well as receive messages from prospective buyers and arrange property viewings etc.
Mallon says Bizdaq’s typical user is anyone in the UK who owns, or is interested in owning, a small business. “Since launching the beta we’ve already seen a cafe in north Wales and a property management firm in Aberdeen list their businesses on the platform, but users could be anything from family-run fish and chip shops, to small ecommerce websites or design agencies. On the buyers’ side, users might be newly-retired folk not quite ready to give up work, or young entrepreneurs who want to buy an established business with existing customers and reputation”.
This, of course, could also include startups, with founders wanting to exit a profitable small venture, freeing them up to move onto their next idea.
Adds Mallon: “Because of the potential to save thousands in fees using a SaaS platform like Bizdaq, it’s already giving a startup founder a leg-up and capital for their next project. Of course, a startup doesn’t have to be a technology company – bricks and mortar businesses are still worth a huge amount to the UK’s economy. Think about the uprising of cafe culture over the last year”.
See, there’s gold in those beans.