Welcome to The Big Exit, where we discuss startup acquisitions with the founders who lived it. The purpose of this podcast is to educate, inspire, and empower entrepreneurs to one day grow their business to levels they may have once thought was not possible. At the end of day, you want to create enough value for your customers to give yourself options as a founder to either exit or stay independent.
We interview startup founders who have built their businesses from the idea stage all the way to some of the biggest exits in the world. Learn what it takes to take your company from a $0 valuation to tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.
This is their story, their pain, and eventually their reward.
Brett Crosby and Team Selling to Google
Dan Daugherty interviews Brett Crosby, a co-founder of Urchin, who sold to Google for half cash and half stock in 2005. Urchin, became Google Analytics, one of the most successful Google products of all time.
Josh Dorkin Bootstrapped BiggerPockets to a Big Exit
Dan Daugherty interviews Josh Dorkin who founded BiggerPockets in his living room with $12 bucks. Josh tells his story of wanting to quit, having 3 nervous breakdowns, and eventually selling to a private equity company. Josh talks about what he did to get to a place of happiness and how big changes in his life became catalysts that helped him, his family, and the business grow.
Dan Daugherty - Welcome to this episode of The Big Exit. I'm your host, Dan Daugherty. And today I have a good friend, Josh Dorkin who is the founder and former CEO of BiggerPockets. Josh, thank you for coming on the show.
Josh Dorkin - Excited to be here, man.
Dan Daugherty - You know, I've got a lot of feedback from the listeners that said, Hey, big exits are great, but I noticed that a lot of the founders that you have interviewed have raised significant amounts of money, and I immediately thought of you because you've bootstrapped BiggerPockets from I remember your Washington Park house where we met to really a multimillion dollar organization. And I'm excited to have you on board to really tell the story of how you went from zero to an exit without ever raising a single dime of outside capital.
Josh Dorkin - Well, if you put it that way, it sounds pretty good. Yeah, Yeah, I I mean, you know, you want me to just take it from the beginning, or..
Dan Daugherty - Yeah, let's start from the very beginning. I remember you and I met In, must have been, what? When did you found BiggerPockets?
Josh Dorkin - Yeah. So it must have been 07, maybe that we connected and you and I were talking about, you know, you were thinking about buying different companies, and and we were just chatting about that. That didn't go well for me, but, uh, but yeah, no, it's been, um it's been a very, very long journey. Um, you know, like like any entrepreneurial story, lots of ups, lots of downs. And, um, inevitably, um, you know, really struggled through those those difficult times. But, you know, I think the key was just persevering through those in order to come out at the end. But, um, I I looked at the cycle as a multistage cycle. When I started BiggerPockets, it was I was teaching special Ed. I was teaching high school in Los Angeles.
The company, by the way, is the largest real estate investing media company and community out there. We're all about trying to help people build wealth, learn how to build wealth through real estate investing. And so back in 04 I was living in Los Angeles, I was teaching special ED at high school, I bought a bunch of property, as a result of my brother encouraging me to do so. And, uh, you know, I thought I was a smart guy, I went to college, you know, all these all these things and bought property thousands of miles away, which would would normally be a challenge. But I didn't really do my homework. And so what happened was little by little, I found myself running into some problems and I didn't quite know how to deal with those problems. There were books, but like, you know, the books were pretty general. They didn't really say, What do you do when your tenant is stealing electricity from the building next door? What do you do when somebody is ripping the copper piping out of your vacant unit? You can't find that. And all that was out there were there were communities forums, but they were all kind of tied to or in cahoots with, I call them the Gurus that get rich quick crowd. Um and you know, the the issue I had with with those which led me to founding BiggerPockets, was I You know, I didn't like the idea of getting caught up in this this funnel where, you know, it's like, hey, come to our free course and the free courses. Just an ad for a free boot camp. You know, some kind of boot camp, which is a nad for a course, which is an ad for, you know, training.
Brett Jurgens Talks About Building and Selling Notion to Comcast
In this episode, Brett Jurgens talks to Dan Daugherty about being a first-time founder and selling his company, Notion to Comcast in early 2020.
Welcome to this episode of The Big Exit. Today I have Brett Jurgens, who sold his company to Comcast early this year in February. Brett, thank you for coming on the show.
Hey, Dan, what's going on? Thanks for having me.
So I actually wanted to start out with my own little story of how we met. I was looking at old emails all the way back to 2014 and you and I were communicating and you said, "Hey, I want to show you a prototype of what I've been working on. Can I show it to you?" I said, absolutely. Come on in. And I remember you walked in with, was probably almost the size of a brick, but it was close to it for your your sensors for homes. And if you remember that, I wanted you to start the story there of what you guys were working on. What problems you were trying to solve all the way, you know, six years ago and then how that morphed into what you are today, even pre and post acquisition with Comcast?
Yeah, I'm happy to. It was it was slightly smaller than a Brick. You're right. So good. Good memory on that one. Um, look. So my co founder, Ryan and I are both from town here in Colorado, Longmont and we grew up together. We've known each other since we were four years old. Onda. We had a really unique relationship.
"A lot of the time as a founder and a CEO, it's kind of like a taboo subject to bring up that being an entrepreneur is hard, like you're supposed to put on a smiley face every day." - Brett Jurgens
""My definition of an entrepreneur is: anybody that can creatively solve problems and just doesn't take no for an answer." - Brett Jurgens
What is the definition of an entrepreneur?
Brett Jurgens: Yeah, my definition of an entrepreneur is anybody that can creatively solve problems and just doesn’t take no for an answer. I tell all of my employees, all the time, that they are entrepreneurs. I think some people take that title and say you have to be a founder, you have to be a CEO to qualify as an entrepreneur. And I think a lot of people like, want to be an entrepreneur. It’s kind of like a badge of honor to some people, I think, and to me, you know, it’s anybody who just has a tenacity and a view of the world that can, you know, things can be different. Things can be better and I can go do that. You don’t have to start a company, in my mind, to be an entrepreneur and to have, you know, that just thing in your gut and that thing in your heart and that thing in your head that all tie together to say, I’m going to go, you know, make a difference and, have the guts and have the tenacity to go do it. So that’s my kind of simple definition.
Dan Daugherty: I love that you can actually use that in all facets of your life. Whether it’s just being a CEO, the founder of your X right, of your division.
Brett Jurgens: Absolutely.
Dan Daugherty: Of whatever you’re doing at home or whatever it might be, just take that initiative. I really like your definition.
Brett Jurgens: Awesome. Well, it’s a good question and I think a lot of people should push harder. A lot of people should create more. And a lot of people aren’t willing to sort of jump into starting a company full time. A lot of people can’t afford to not have a salary for 12 months, like I said earlier in the call. But I also think a lot of people can make it work and you can do it in different ways. And so thinking creatively about how to make it happen is what it’s about.
Chris Onan on Being the Reluctant Co-Founder and Selling for $165MM
Chris Onan sat down with Dan Daugherty to discuss what it took to build a multi-million dollar Denver based company that eventually led to a $165MM all cash acquisition deal with K12, Inc. Chris also talks about raising money and investing in other startups.
Welcome to The Big Exit, where we discussed startup acquisitions with the founders who lived it. Here's your host, Dan Daugherty.
Welcome to this episode of the big exit. Today, I have Chris Onan, a good friend, entrepreneur, and one of the co-founders of Galvanize that earlier this year sold for $165 million. Chris, it is so awesome to have you on the show.
Well, thanks for having me, man.
Let's get started by giving our listeners a brief overview of what Galvanize is and why you guys came together, really almost a decade ago to start it.
Yeah, I want to say it was first quarter of 2012. So gosh, eight years. That's crazy. Um, Galvanize, fundamentally at the core was an education business. You know, we looked at the problems that tech companies we're just having trouble finding tech talent or enough of it, and particularly in Colorado. And we said, Look, there's gotta be a better way to do this. And Eric Mitisek called me one day and said, Hey, I got these two guys and they're working on something, but they need you and that was really where it started.
I met my co founders over a couple glasses of wine up at the Venture Capital Rockies Conference. Something Way is a venture capital community used to hold in kind of Denver Boulder because we couldn't find investors from the coast come and look at deals in Colorado. Well, that's changed. That conference outlived itself and now more investors love coming to Colorado. I met my two co-founders and I was like, Whoa, that's a lot. Because at the time it think It was really focused on being a real estate play, and I'm trying to raise a fund, and I just said, "Hey, have fun storming the castle guys, that's just way too complicated."
And one of my co-founders called me a couple days later and said, "Hey, look, you know, we haven't figured it all out. Why don't you help us? What's the downside?" And I was like, don't use logic on me. It works. And so I just started kind of banging on it started tweaking it. I was the reluctant co-founder. It was. It was a little bit like the girl you're dating that you don't want your friends to know about. And then six months later, you know, you're like in a relationship that's a little bit like that.
The Story of eBags from Inception to a $105MM Exit
Jon Nordmark, the co-founder of eBags, tells his story of risking it all to start an Ecommerce company, surviving the dot com crash and avoiding bankruptcy during 9/11. His company's resilience and magical culture helped them launch new products when they needed it most.
Lori Torres - Going from Borrowing Money to a $100+MM Exit in 4.5 Years
Lori Torres left a high-paying job, had to sell her home, and borrow money from her mom to get her company, Parcel Pending, off the ground. Due to her personal frustration and knowledge of where online shopping was headed, Lori saw a tremendous gap in the market for making it easy and secure for apartment residents to receive and collect packages 24 hours a day. She took her idea and turned it into a $100+MM exit in record time. This is her story.
The "Elf on the Shelf" moment.
Culture and customer service that led to a $100MM Exit.
Risking it all and believing in the idea.
What does being an entrepreneuer mean to Lori?
Today, I have very special guest who I've known for about six years, all the way back to when she was trying to get her company off the ground, and since then she has built one of the largest companies within the package delivery space and last year in 2019 sold her company, Parcel Pending, for over one hundred million dollars. Lori Torres. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today.
Hey Dan, so happy to be with you. Thanks for having me.
Well, I wanted to start this off with a two part question. The first is what is Parcel Pending? And I know you had a very lucrative job before you started Parcel Pending. What made you decide to leave that cushy job and take the leap into starting your own company?
Yeah. So, first off let me tell you what Parcel Pending is. We do electronic smart lockers and so invision a bank of lockers that have technology in them and we put them in apartment buildings at office buildings, in retail and so couriers can come deliver the package straight into the locker. They find the recipient and then it sends a text, an email to the recipient, and now they get this text for email with the code and they can go to the lockers and pick up their stuff. It's a safe and secure way to get our packages and contact free in the world of COVID. So it's a great solution to a huge growing problem because everybody is shopping online and they want to get their stuff, but they don't want it stolen off their front porch. So that's what Parcel Pending is.
So let me tell you what happened was I was at a fancy corporate America job. I was in the apartment business running 44,000 apartment units with about 1,200 employees and my staff kept asking for more headcount and bigger package rooms because the residents were home in their pajamas shopping online and all of a sudden they were just inundated with packages and so I was like, we can't add headcount, that's an expense, it doesn't make any sense. So I thought, you know we could solve this with technology...