Interview with Coran Woodmass
Billion Dollar Exit Strategies with Coran Woodmass
Today, I’m talking with Coran Woodmass, founder of Billion Dollar Exits.
Despite not finishing high school, Coran became dedicated to self-education and entrepreneurship. After decades of mastering sales and negotiating dozens of exits, he discovered a unique ability to reverse engineer billion-dollar deals.
Now he helps clients negotiate creative deals when exiting their companies, raising capital, and rapidly acquiring millions in EBITDA at a discount using other people’s money.
According to Coran, successful exit planning is both an art and a science. It requires the right strategy, the right people, and aligned agendas. Fortunately, Coran’s proven himself as an expert at getting all three of these factors to align for his clients, and he’s about to share some of those secrets with you today…
Featured on This Episode: Coran Woodmass
✅ What he does: Coran Woodmass has found a way to help entrepreneurs and business owners 10X THEIR REVENUE and create MULTIPLE LIQUIDATION EVENTS with someone else’s money.
💬 Words of wisdom: “To the right strategic partner your business’s risks are a benefit.” – Coran Woodmass
Key Takeaways with Coran Woodmass
- From a Jehovah’s Witness that never graduated high school to being the guy who gets to travel the world while still being an M&A investor.
- Reversed-engineering the art of billion-dollar deals and packaging them into a toolbox that smaller companies can easily use.
- How he helped a client take money off the table, raise VC money, and scale from 7-figures to 9-figures – even though their initial plan was to just sell!
- Why most entrepreneurs undervalue their businesses – and how he helped a friend of his secure a price tag 300% higher than they expected.
- His unique strategy that allows him to go from the first conversation to cheques cleared in ONLY 43 days – while still getting you DOUBLE the sale price you were expecting.
- Why Coran ignores most brokers and determines the true worth of any business.
- How to find the right strategic partner – who will see your business’s risks as a benefit, and provide you with possibilities you could never have imagined.
Coran Woodmass – Exiting Your Company Without Giving Up Control
Coran Woodmass Tweetables“Investment bankers just want another business to sell…But what are the options for the founder, including lifestyle? You don’t want to be signed up to a job you don’t want.” - Coran Woodmass Click To Tweet Whether it's a creative structure or a straight-up sale, you really have to get in behind the scenes and figure out what the story is and figure out the why.” - Coran Woodmass Click To Tweet
- Billion Dollar Exits
- Coran Woodmass on Website | LinkedIn | Twitter
- Tropical MBA’s Dynamite Circle
- Tropical MBA Podcast
- Ryan Moran
- Mike Koenigs
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Read the Full Transcript with Coran Woodmass
Justin Donald: Well, what’s up, Coran? It’s so glad to have you on the show. I’ve been excited for this moment because you’ve been doing some big things in the world of business. So, welcome.
Coran Woodmass: Thanks, Justin. I’m excited to be here.
Justin Donald: And I got to ask, man. How did you get this incredible stage name, Coran Woodmass:? I mean, that is like a true Hollywood name.
Coran Woodmass: Thank you. Actually, growing up as a kid, I hated my name but now it’s nice. It’s kind of a talking point.
Justin Donald: Oh, it is. It just rolls so smoothly off the tongue.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, appreciate that.
Justin Donald: Yeah. So, growing up as a kid, you grew up in Australia, right?
Coran Woodmass: Correct. Yes.
Justin Donald: And one of the cool things about you is you have lived all over the globe and I cannot wait to talk to you on so many levels, I mean, of course about business, of course about, I mean, your new brand. You’ve been kind of in the business space helping people buy and sell businesses for most of your professional life. So, of course, I want to get into that but I want to get into your lifestyle. You have an incredible lifestyle and I have the luxury and vantage point of really knowing you much better than a lot of the people that I have on the show because you’re part of The Lifestyle Investor Mastermind. And so, I have this bird’s eye view of like all the cool stuff you’ve done in the past, all the cool trips you’re taking. I mean, since joining the masterminds, you were living in Australia and then you were living in Spain, and now you’re back in the U.S., you’re in Austin. So, I’d love to hear kind of like what life was like in Australia and then just some of the other cool places that you’ve lived over your life.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. I could talk for hours on this subject but I guess it’s coming up to nine years or coming up to 10 years I think now since my wife and I left Australia. And it started initially just as a gap year to see would we like living abroad. Leanne had a work visa and some options in the UK. So, we were kind of traveling on the way over there and me being the business guy, I wanted to take a month off and two weeks into our trip in Vietnam, I was learning how to build e-commerce websites and looking at online investing and online businesses within two weeks so I didn’t last very long. But the travel was fun. We spent a lot of time in Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, specifically Europe. We used to live in Prague, lived in Barcelona, Valencia, London, and traveled a lot in between, obviously, have a base here in Austin, which is cool. And I’ve traveled a lot in between.
Justin Donald: That’s awesome. Well, I feel really blessed because I’ve been to many of the places that you’ve named, in fact, a lot of them but I haven’t done extended stays there. You’ve actually lived in these cities all across the world. I’ve just gone for one or two or three week trip to them, which is really a blessing in itself. But I just think that this opportunity to really live somewhere and learn the culture and experience the world from their point of view is just an incredible opportunity. And it’s part of the reason I’m so excited about really pursuing this Golden Visa with Portugal so that we have the ability to have citizenship in Portugal and access to all of the EU. Just anywhere in Europe I think is really neat. And then obviously the Schengen kind of region with borderless access. And so, I know you’re very familiar with that. I’m just curious how being here in the U.S. has differed from some of the other places that you’ve lived.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah. It’s strange. Actually, I remember we wrote on the windows in Prague, we were trying to figure out where to go next and Lisbon was actually one of the places and we were looking at business-wise and lifestyle-wise who we knew where and Austin won at the time. I don’t think it’s going to be the forever place, to be honest. I get really bad allergies for one so that’s not great for Austin but it’s the culture in the US vs. Australia, where Australia and New Zealand where I grew up, it’s very different. We all speak somewhat the same language, although people can’t understand me half the time but the cultures are different in a couple of ways and there are pluses and minuses. So, obviously, over here in the states, it’s a lot more about being self-reliant and taking care of yourself first, which it took a little bit of time for us to kind of get used to that approach whereas in Australia being a different kind of culture, you’re expecting the government to take care of you. We pay them very well for that privilege. But out here, it’s just different so that’s one piece that’s different.
But from a business perspective, it’s not unusual at all to be an entrepreneur. It’s even maybe overemphasized how important it is to be an entrepreneur and take control of your own life. Whereas in Australia, I was the odd one out being the entrepreneur of people. Why do you want to leave a corporate gig or why do you have this need to do this? Actually, I had a boss once in a review tell me, asked me, “Is this job not fulfilling enough for you?” And I thought he was crazy. He thought I was crazy. I thought he was crazy. So, yeah, that’s some of the differences.
Justin Donald: That’s fascinating and it is an interesting thought because especially here in Austin, you’ve got one of the epicenters in the U.S. of entrepreneurship and kind of just bootstrapping or having just tons of resources here to help scale. It used to be I feel like the land of bootstrapping now. It’s the land of whatever you want to accomplish. There are organizations, there are private equity firms, there are VC firms, there’s anything and everything you could ever need to help support in your business. And more importantly than anything, it’s just tons of like-minded entrepreneurs that you’re going to associate with that are just going to help you look at things in a different light. They’re going to tackle challenges that you maybe haven’t gotten to yet. And it’s just this incredible place. And so, I just feel blessed every day to be here in this community, the city of Austin.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah. It’s great. And one of the things that might be good for context especially as you’re looking towards moving to Europe, I feel like you need, personally, I like both. I like having a bit of the US and a bit of European lifestyle. In Europe, it’s one of – here’s a great example. In Prague, one of our favorite cafes for the whole month of August would shut for the whole month. This place is rammed. You can’t get an appointment. You can’t get a booking. You have to line up and there is a line every day out the front of this place and they shut down for an entire month. That’s just how the European lifestyle is, lifestyle and family first, business very much second. In Spain, that’s even maybe third, which is kind of nice, right? It’s good to have that hustle, let’s go get, let’s go big, let’s get everything, and then, on the other hand, have a little bit more relaxation, family and friends first. It’s nice to have a balance between those two. I don’t think I could spend all year in either but I like having the contrast of the two. I kind of plug into whatever environment I’m in, so it’s easier to spend time in different parts like that.
Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s a great point. And that contrast is important because it’d be hard to live in the extreme of either. So, yeah, having a nice balance of the two, have a nice marriage there of each of these I think is really good. But I do admire how entrepreneurship in a lot of parts of the world and a lot of people do it here in the U.S. too but I think you see it a lot more outside of the U.S. where people really value lifestyle and really do things to kind of fill themselves up so that they’re not burnt out to get quality time with friends and family. So, that’s neat. I like that you’ve had all these cool experiences around the globe, and I know that’s just going to continue for you.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely.
Justin Donald: So, what was it that brought you to Austin?
Coran Woodmass: So, a mutual friend of ours, actually, Ryan Moran, was having an event. It was called the Brand Builder Summit Conference a few years back, and we actually met in Ukraine, in Kyiv, at an event we were both speaking at and he said, “Oh, do you want to come to Austin and speak at my event?” I was, “Yeah, sure. Let’s go check it out.” So, we came down for that event. It’s the middle of summer so crazy hot. But the people we met here that also lived here at that event was really cool, plus we also knew some other people, Dan and Ian, who are the founders of the Dynamite Circle, Tropical MBA podcast. They also live here. So, getting to meet that network which has been a great resource for us, especially the location-independent part. That’s where we actually find most of our friends around the world is we plug into that community because everyone’s kind of all over the place. So, that was cool. And the lifestyle here is pretty good. Like you mentioned, there’s so much infrastructure here that just makes things easier. There’s a lot of capital in Texas and Austin specifically. There’s a lot of e-commerce, which is my main role for the last eight years or so has been in e-commerce. So, yeah, that’s been really helpful to be close to the epicenter of some of those things.
Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s awesome. And Ryan, by the way, Ryan Moran, I just had him on the podcast. It was great. So, that episode will be coming out soon. But, yeah, it’s just fun seeing like how interconnected everyone is. And even inside our mastermind just to see how people kind of hear about it, who they heard it from, who knows who, I mean, this world is just so interconnected. I just love it. So, yeah, I’m excited to kind of learn more. I’d love to hear your story on a couple of fronts. Number one, you really specialize a lot in buying and selling businesses. You’ve definitely got expertise in e-commerce but it goes much beyond e-commerce. I just know that that’s where you got started. And then you have recently rebranded with what I think is just an amazing brand. I’m thrilled to be able to unveil it here on the show today but talk us through kind of your evolution as an entrepreneur.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this might be a little bit too far back but I’ll start here for it’ll make sense in a second. I was actually raised a Jehovah’s Witness and I didn’t finish high school. So, to give you a context of where I’m coming from, that’s kind of the polar opposite of where I’ve ended up. Along the way, I’ve just been a voracious reader. I’ve always been fascinated. Bordering on obsession, I’ve realized recently with billionaires and billion-dollar deals. And I don’t know why this is just my thing. I look at deals and I need to know how they happen. I want to talk to people that have been doing big deals, and what I’ve actually uncovered is a pretty unique ability to reverse engineer these large deals, these large transactions, and translate that into smaller businesses and large businesses as to how to actually make these deals happen and how you can leverage some of these toolboxes that big companies have that the average entrepreneur just won’t see. So, it’s been a long journey to get here. Like I mentioned before, I was buying, building, and selling online businesses beforehand. Then I got into the brokerage space because I just love doing the deals. And now, since then, we’ve had exposure to some really big, really big deals and opportunities that have led to where we are now, and I can share some of those. But does that cover the evolution so far?
Justin Donald: Yeah. Well, I love that you’re on both the buy-side and the sell-side, right? So, that is important because you’re capturing a lot more of the market. You can really help anyone in any space, which is great. But I would love to hear some case studies because, I mean, you’ve done some incredible work for people. You’ve not only helped people exit at a much higher valuation than maybe what they thought their business was worth. You’ve been able to help people on the buy-side get into some businesses that really suit their needs that really support their skill set, and I guess supplement who they are and how they operate. And you’ve helped people get into businesses at a really good price point as well or good valuation. And so, I’d love to get into some of the technical side of that. But for now, let’s share some case studies of some businesses that you’ve helped, some entrepreneurs that you’ve helped buy or sell.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. So, about two-and-a-half years ago, I had a client approach me. They were essentially wanting to exit plan. They were saying, “Look, we’ve built this business about seven figures of revenue, highly profitable, super fast-growing. Now, we position this for a sale in a year or two.” That’s how the conversation started. And fast forward a couple of years, we had more and more conversations about possibilities and what they were, what their skill set was, what they really wanted to do. And we came up with an idea that started very small but escalated pretty quickly. So, what we came up with was their business had grown over this time to an eight-figure business, eight-figure revenue, super profitable, still very fast-growing, and they wanted to leverage. It’s in the healthcare niche. They wanted to leverage and create a healthcare platform by acquiring other healthcare-related brands. So, we came up with a strategy to do that. And then also, how do we raise capital for that? So, we ended up finding $55 million worth of capital to get them going on the process. But the coolest part of this deal was we actually negotiated to acquire their existing brand from themselves. So, everyone kind of thinks it’s binary when you’re selling a business. You either sell the business or you keep running it. What we found here was another option where they could actually take a lot of chips off the table, set themselves up, and start investing in deals like we’re doing at The Lifestyle Investor Mastermind.
And then over here, they can keep growing the business. They still own the vast majority of the business or 100% in control. So, at the time we raised the capital, it was around, call it, 15 million to 20 million in revenue. Fast forward three to four months now, they’ve grown via six acquisitions to over – they’re chasing down $100 million in revenue already. So, they’ve taken cash off the table, their good eight figures off the table, and they’re growing into a nine-figure business and their model is so well-constructed and the deal flow is very high now. So, we’re actually going out to raise another 100 billion to 200 billion in the next, say, three to six months. So, it’s really exciting. I’m an advisor to that company. We also help them with the acquisition side. Once they’re looking for larger brands, our team will be helping with that. So, I’m just so proud of what they’ve been able to put together but also to share that story and give founders and entrepreneurs other alternatives than just do I sell my business or do I keep it?
Justin Donald: Yeah. You had many bites of the apple there and in that expression, I feel like sometimes it’s used words like, “Hey, we can try a whole bunch of times and see what works.” In this instance, it’s like you got the whole apple every single time or the majority of the apple every time. I mean that’s really an exciting feat and you don’t hear about that type of strategy much. We got a few other members in the mastermind that have had a similar situation where they sold their company but maybe the private equity group coming in to buy it didn’t want to buy the whole thing and so they parceled off part of it. And then what they parceled off ended up becoming something really big and then they sold that parcel and another one off. And so, it’s fascinating when you really understand the ins and the outs of buying and selling and how do you evaluate these companies and how do you carve portions off? What is a group going to want? What are they not going to want? How do you layer in technology on top of it? How do you take like a service-based company and kind of soup it up a little bit with some sort of software? And I know this is – I’m speaking your language. I’d love to hear some more tricks of the trade from you.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah. Well, you bring up a good point. So, the second bite of the apple is a classic private equity strategy too. The main reason they offer this is to get a better deal because it’s less cash they have to pay. The IRR looks better for their investors. It’s actually not in your best interest the main reason this is offered and we’ve seen it go both ways. Our friend, Ryan, he’s been public about this so I can say this. His did not turn out well. His rolling the equity forward did not play out well because the company was mismanaged after it was acquired so it can go both ways. The way we’ve structured this deal is the clients are still in control of the entity. So, they’ve never held cash. They’ve taken cash off the table, got access to capital, but they’re still in control. So, there’s still risk, of course. The market can change. Maybe they’re not as great operating a nine-figure business as they were an eight-figure business but they’re more in control. And if you partner with the right people or have the right strategy, of course, there can be massive upside like you were saying with some of the members in the group as well.
So, just it’s looking at all the available options for your company and trying them on basically in a safe environment. The main reason we created the new brand, which is called BillionDollarExits.com so you can go over there and check out some resources, the reason we created this is I feel being in the M&A space for about a decade now, I realize it’s broken from a founder’s perspective. So, if you’re talking to a business broker or an investment banker, you know that they’re just trying to get your business to sell. They want another business to sell. No matter what they’re telling you, that’s the real motivation behind the scenes. On the other side, if you’ve got buyers coming to you directly, that might sound great because, hey, a buyer’s coming to me. I don’t even have to get an intermediary or an advisor. Well, they’re coming to you directly to get a better deal nine out of 10 times, right? It’s not because they want to pay you more. They want a deal that isn’t represented because then they can kind of push their agenda and get the best deal for them most times. And then everyone else associated with this world, the M&A world, are all fee-based and have their own agendas.
So, there’s no one really that I’ve seen at least that has a holistic approach to founder first. What is the options for the founder including lifestyle? Because you don’t want to sign yourself up for a job or something like this and completely miss out on lifestyle altogether. So, having a holistic approach to this is super important. So, I’ll go through a couple of other examples of deals we’ve worked on recently that give you perspective on what’s possible. So, one of the deals we’re working on recently was in the home and kitchen space, and the business was in a declining trend. So, this is not usually a great time to sell the business. And also, the way they built the business we had to disclose certain things to the buyers. So, it wasn’t straightforward here’s a perfect business type deal, so much so that the client I’ve actually known him for four or five years now and he was a friend of mine and still a friend of mine. But he thought the business was only worth maybe $2 million max. He was really thinking like a million bucks. And we ended up negotiating the deal with him, finding the right buyers, getting a buyer pool buy frenzy happening with bids, and ended up selling from $6 million. So, it was well above what he was expecting when we went into the process.
Justin Donald: That’s incredible 300% above, and I mean that is amazing and that is kind of what I was talking about before where you can kind of layer in more to the deal to enhance the value, even though it’s not necessarily producing more but a lot of it is how you kind of show that company, right? It’s the story that you tell. It’s projecting out the financials from where they are today. There’s so much of it that really is based on your way of marketing the business and not just where the business is on its own.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, exactly. And there’s an art and science to selling any business and whether it’s a creative structure or a straight-up sale, you really have to, like you say, get in behind the scenes and figure out what the story is and figure out the why. Because most buyers, when they talk to you about selling a company, they’re just trying to uncover why are you selling this. Because on the surface it might be cash flowing really well. It doesn’t make any sense. So, people often have surface-level reasons they’re selling but there’s always those reasons that are real behind the scenes, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable. You don’t actually want to say, “Well, there’s family reasons,” or, “Actually, my business partner and I aren’t getting along and we don’t have a great operating agreement. We have to sell this so we can go our separate ways.” You may not want to actually disclose that but there’s ways and strategies to disclose that in a positive way and include the buyer in that conversation. So, we’ve done multiple partnership breakups and they’re very tough to work on but, yeah, set up an operating agreement before you get into business.
Justin Donald: That is a must. I mean, the operating agreement is like your key most important, most crucial thing to get right and especially recognizing the fact that most partnerships end in a breakup. They just do and it’s often pretty ugly. And so, you want to go into it knowing that there could be a breakup. And in the event that that happens, how do things get split up? What’s fair? And then you’re making decisions now for what’s going to happen later. And so, there are some nuances to that but really just kind of getting on the same page with any partners I think is just so important. And people they change over time, they grow, people grow apart, the business you’ll see kind of creates just I’m going to say it highlights or extracts values that people have that maybe you didn’t see for better or for worse. You know, I think that money and success is often a magnifying glass to like who someone is and what are kind of their core values and principles that they operate out of life on.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah. We’ve actually seen some cases recently where it wasn’t actually a breakdown of the partnership. It was just a misalignment of interests or a change in interest over time. So, they still got along but one wanted to keep growing the business, the other one wanted out. And it’s an illiquid asset, right? Unless you sell the business, it’s really tough to take chips off the table. So, while you’re at the beginning stages or even before you start, if you can walk through some ideas together with your partners and say, “Here’s what we’re thinking,” especially if you’re married. Leanne and I’ve had this conversation and you need to have these conversations as to what happens if. Leanne’s my wife and also my business partner. So, I’m speaking from experience here.
Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s the one-two punch right there. You got to make sure you really got that one right.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah.
Justin Donald: But luckily you did great. I mean, it’s awesome when you have one of my mentors back in the day call it trading up, when you trade up and you marry someone kind of out of your league and you did quite well. I love having Leanne and all the different functions that we do and getting a chance to get to know her and see how her brain works. I mean, she is one smart woman.
Coran Woodmass: Yes. Yes, she is.
Justin Donald: You two make a great team. So, it’s cool to see but you’re so right on this in that when I say relationships, these partnerships most of it end in a breakup. That doesn’t mean that people are at each other’s throats but the vast majority of the time people become different people. I mean, can you imagine I know some people probably got married to their high school sweetheart or shortly after high school. And for me, I feel like, “Wow, I’m glad I didn’t,” because I am a totally different person than I was then. And so, for me, personally, I wasn’t ready for that. Other people are much better equipped than I am in that place but you just look at the difference between you and high school, you and college for those that went to college, you as a budding professional, you as a more seasoned professional, and just the different paths that people take. I mean, I look at my friends from high school, and though we’re still friends, I’ve got a ton of friends from high school. We have just gone in such different paths. Our interests just aren’t the same. You know, you can see that slowly over time like in real-time, you can see it sometimes, but when you take a snapshot of a decade, two decades, that chasm becomes pretty massive.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah. So, it’s very unlikely that you’ll grow at the same time with any other human. So, it’s quite amazing when it does happen. But being prepared for that could actually be really good for the business, too. We’ve seen cases where just purely from a business perspective, where one partner was more involved than the other and the business ended up taking a hit because of that relationship. So, yeah, it’s worth thinking through and planning for at least.
Justin Donald: Yeah, without a doubt. So, what else? What are some other stories where you’ve helped companies with exits or help people buy? I love, I mean, I could talk about this all day, Coran, and you likely have the vantage point of doing this all day. So, I just I want more. I think it’s so interesting.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve got two more off the top of my head that I can share with you that I think are interesting because they’re different in different ways. So, this company was a multigenerational company. The parents founded the company. It actually started as a retail store, retail location, converted into an online e-commerce business over the 35 years in business, the two founding or the two owners were brothers. When we went to market, they came to us and they said, “Look, we’ve got a couple of issues with the business and we’ve done very well for ourselves. We’re kind of done.” And the problems weren’t insurmountable. They both were real with themselves and said, “Look, we’re done,” and they’ve taken cash off the table over the years. Their parents were good. They were good. They just want to, “Look, it’s time to pass this on to someone else.” Unfortunately, because of the situation that we’re in, we had a really tight timeline to work with and it was selling physical products so we had inventory issues at the time. So, they were running out of inventory on even some of their top sellers. So, the business wallet’s metrics were great. It was a high cash flowing, high seven-figure business and cash flow. It was actually declining rapidly because of this, and they gave us a target.
They said, “Okay. Well, if you can get this for us, we’ll sell. If not, we’ll just sell out the inventory. We’ll get about half a million more if we did that route.” So, we said, “Okay. Let’s go see who we can talk to really quick.” So, we need someone strategic that could fix this problem but also diligence and close very fast. So, we had about a 60-day window, give or take. When we really got started on this, we spoke to four hyper strategic companies. One of them made an offer. It’s in the audio equipment, professional audio equipment space, and they had another brand that was in the space so they had cross-sell, upsell opportunities, the works, the holy grail basically and could close very quickly. So, I believe that it was about 43 days total from the time we first started talking to them to when the check cleared and everyone was paid and the result there was double what they were expecting because we were able to get it in there very quickly and find the right party. So, usually in dealmaking, I say one is none but sometimes in a special situation that’s all you need is one buyer.
Justin Donald: Yeah. And you say one is none because you want to brew up more competition. You want them to bid the other people up, just like in the example where your buddy wanted to sell for 2 million and he got 6 million. So, one is none makes tons of sense but you’re right. The right strategic buyer is everything. And this world of consumer products is kind of a fascinating world, too, because you’ve got these online businesses, you’ve got all these Amazon businesses, and they’re more businesses than just Amazon businesses but it’s kind of a popular thing right now. But there’s also this risk element to it because the algorithm can change at any moment. They can rank someone else’s product as a best seller or they’re abiding by the terms or a) you didn’t handle this client well and so now we’re going to reprimand you. And so, you can be like the best seller and then instantly fall off the map, and no one’s buying your stuff. I mean, it is a very fickle business, and I know there are ways to figure it out. But to me, it would be hard to feel like I could value a business at a certain valuation with so much uncertainty around whether that can be maintained or not, right? Versus like software is way different, right? You’re not relying on physical products.
You don’t have to worry about the logistics. There’s licensing. I mean, it’s just so much more streamlined, so much more scalable. And so, to me, even though these might be similar businesses, these are “online businesses” or these are e-commerce businesses, these are technology businesses, or whatever it is, there are so many different nuances, there are so many different degrees of it. And it’s also interesting to think like, how do you properly like evaluate what a company is worth? Like, how do you know the value? Because it changes.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, exactly. So, the only way I’ve found to effectively do this, if you really want to know is you need to present the deal to buyers in the right way and create a timed approach. So, we don’t use the list price. We don’t use traditional kind of post a listing that type of thing. What we do is we build a strategic list. We say who could be the best buyer for this deal based on the buyers we’ve worked with, the space, who’s active in the M&A world, and we go out to them, present the deal and then ask them, “How do you value this business? What is this worth to you?” And like you mentioned, if the business is single-source dependent or it’s got a hero product that’s, look, this is the majority of our business. Even if the business is diversified if it’s one product or one service, that’s the main thing. There’s risk. But to the right strategic partner, maybe they see that as a benefit because they want to add that to their business. Been talking to a number of friends in the e-commerce service agency world, and they’ve been approached by a number of larger traditional marketing agencies that want to add that e-commerce element to their existing offering to large companies. So, they’re seeing that as a value-add as opposed to a risk. So, it depends on who you’re talking to. The value would be very different. If it was a buyer that was looking at replacing that job and this was their only source of income, it would be scary to say, okay, it’s like a one-legged stool. How long before this thing falls over, right? But another buyer might see value completely differently.
So, in the private equity space, they call this an add-on to a platform business. A strategic will just say, “Hey, we want to acquire this.” I think Lululemon buying Mirror, for example. That was a hyper strategic deal that didn’t make any financial sense. It was a half-billion-dollar deal and I don’t think they were even profitable. So, that’s not very common to get a deal like that. Obviously, that was a physical product but there was a huge tech aspect to the backend of that business. And you talked about buying strategies earlier. And one of the things we’re actually doing with the first company I mentioned, they primarily sell on Amazon right now. That was the business they built. And what we’re looking to do in the next race is acquire brands that aren’t Amazon dependent. Maybe they’re in retail, maybe they have international distribution that we could plug into, plug the other products into that brand or that pipeline, right? So, we’re actually looking to strategically acquire, to diversify as well. So, you can do it that way.
Justin Donald: Yeah. That’s cool. And it’s interesting because the other thing that I see a lot of people struggling with is when they build a business around them. That is a really hard product or asset to sell when it’s you. You are the business. You are the face. You remove that person, the business is way less valuable. And so, I often like to coach our entrepreneurs to really have something that’s not them, you know? I think that that’s of the utmost importance. You know, it’s great seeing all these strategies and all the ways that you’re able to add value for your clients to think that that’s so cool and you’ve had so much success just in all the things that you’ve done, I mean, every step of the way from an entrepreneur. For me, it’s been really cool seeing you grow as an investor, right? And so, and that’s a whole nother world but bridging the gap between entrepreneur and investor is a big gap. I mean, that’s not easy. Most entrepreneurs move from when they have an exit and they’ll try and invest and they lose, I mean, they lose their shirt. They lose so much money. I see it all the time because the skill sets are different. And so, you’ve had this ability to really figure out great ways to invest, whether it’s in other companies or in other investments. And I’d love to hear kind of the contrast of that world, the entrepreneurship world, and like what it’s like now being an investor because you’ve invested in a ton of deals now with us.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. So, yeah, I’m happy you brought that up because I’ve been talking to a lot of people about this recently. We’ve had clients and friends that have exited and had the opposite happen where they think they’re overconfident, right? Because they’ve built something from scratch, which is awesome. But finding investors and Chad in our group as well, he mentioned going from investing in himself to investing in other people. And I hadn’t thought about it like that before but it really is. You’re investing in teams to pull something off. It’s not the stock market where it’s kind of blind. There are people on the other side of that, too, but it feels like it’s something in between. But once you start doing these direct deals, you’re really investing in the team, and having access to great deals like your mastermind is super helpful when it comes to this side of things. But then digging it into the details and figuring out what your own strategy is, talking to the other people in the group, your mastermind is amazing. I mean, if you’re looking to get into investing I highly recommend that. It’s the best result I ever found and it’s taken me from zero to a thousand in a very short period of time. In fact, we’ve been focused on cash flow investing like you mentioned in your book, and my wife and I are about 80% of the way to our first target, which is pretty cool.
Justin Donald: That’s amazing. That’s not pretty cool. That’s amazing. Congratulations.
Coran Woodmass: Thank you. And it only really started, I only joined in June or July last year. I think the first investment was within the first month but then the cash flow really takes a little bit of time to roll through. So, we’re in February, early February. So, that’s a very short amount of time. And part of that is having great deal flow, great terms negotiated, but also looking at a lot of deals to figure out what you’re comfortable with, what your own risk profile is, how much capital do you want to deploy? So, that’s been fascinating. I’m a deal maker, so looking at how to structure deals is like my day-to-day but then structuring the terms of an investment and knowing that you can actually negotiate these or you can get a group together and we can leverage better terms, that’s amazing as well. As a nice side benefit of all of this was I was getting really, last summer, I was burned out with my business. A lot of what I do takes a lot of time. I’ve got a great team now. We’ve managed to find great people but at the time I was just really burned out and I wasn’t motivated to go do the next deal. I was doing the stuff that was just coming in and I wasn’t really hustling and through seeing so many deals and having access to so many opportunities, that really lit a fire again to go get more deals closed to put it straight into investing. We’re not taking any of the success fees right now as cash in the bank. We’re putting it into investments to live off that cash flow. So, even, yeah, of course, there was more to say.
Justin Donald: Well, I mean, that’s incredible. Thank you for the kind words. And I love our community but it’s true that it creates this new motivation where it gets you to think bigger, right? So, instead of you just thinking about, “What does your business produce? What does your job produce? I don’t know if I want to be here anymore,” it’s like, well, actually, I do because the more I produce here if I’m really diligent, I can place it all into a cash-flowing asset and then that cash flowing asset gives me the lifestyle to buy some time back so I can actually work a schedule that’s more enjoyable, and at some point, I have enough cash flow that I can just choose if I want to do it or not do it. Or for you, as a business owner, you can choose not only whether you do it or not, you can keep your business and outsource everything to your team by training and teaching the right people. So, it’s not like you have to exit your business. You have the ability to have the cash flow where you’re not doing anything for money, therefore, you can hire a C-suite to run everything, and then you can just pop in for the things that really inspire you or the groups, the clients that you really want to work with, people you’ve had a relationship with on previous exits that you just loved working with them and you want to get back in the saddle with them again.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve actually had a friend a little while ago. He had a hiccup in his business and it just you get beat up day in, day out, and as a business owner, that’s just a fact. But it had a few things in it, right? And he was like, “Look, I’m going to sell.” He thought he had his number and he sold the business, gave up all the perks that came with ownership of that business. He started investing and his returns were much lower than he was expecting because he’d done some investing but didn’t have the track record and the confidence yet. So, he took a lot of time to discover what it actually was. And then afterwards, he realized he told me about two years later, “Actually, I sold too early,” and he’s since bought another. He bought a business from us so then he ended up selling earlier or later last year. Q4 last year he ended up selling. But this time he knew his numbers. I haven’t spoken to him since, which is cool. But I think I don’t know where I heard this but I got some advice or got this concept in my head that I needed a million dollars in cash in the bank before starting to invest. And I don’t know where I got this advice from, and in my case, it actually worked out okay.
But I think it would have been much better to start investing earlier because I missed out on potential compounded returns, companies going public like a few of ours have done recently, which is awesome. All of these side benefits but also what I most like about the presentations we get from different groups raising capital is to hear how they’re doing what they’re doing. Some of the technology that they’re talking about, the concepts, the opportunities that are out there, it just expands your mind as far as possibilities. And that could even lead to discussions, that could lead to business, other connections, et cetera. One of the investors or the investments recently, I asked the question and said, “Look, before you do anything, call me. Here’s my number. Just call me before you do anything.” And it’s not a right fit for me just yet that investment but it was still open to helping me with a sudden issue. So, I was like, “That’s amazing,” and not just help me for the sake of helping me. This guy’s seriously got some amazing jobs in what I was asking you about. So, I know you know what it was. We probably shouldn’t talk about it here.
Justin Donald: That’s awesome. Well, I just love seeing just people’s genius come out and their expertise. I mean, it’s so much fun watching people when they’re really in their element, doing the thing that they love, the thing that they’re most skilled at. And for most people, it’s hard for them to get there because they’re in a routine of whatever they got stuck doing because they didn’t continue to move to what it was that they ultimately wanted to do. And some people just settle. A lot of people just settle and say, “Well, this is the life I’ve been handed. I might as well just kind of truck through it.” And I don’t know that that’s the right, I mean, it’s a way to do it. I don’t know that it’s the most inspiring way to do it. I know it’s not going to create the most compelling vision for the future. And so, I like that you’ve been able to pivot and do that and, obviously, working with Mike Koenigs as we both have. I mean, the guy’s brilliant. He’s just so much fun and he’s so creative, has tons of ideas, his network’s incredible. And so, it’s just a blast when you find people that you can be in business with that you can partner with. And that’s how I look at it for you. You know, if I were selling one of my businesses with you, I’m a partner with you in this exit like we are on the same team. If I’m buying a business, we are in partnership. If I’m helping to create legs in an organization, again, we’re in partnership. That is the way to do business and do life is you find the people that you want to do life with anyway and then just have some fun business with them.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah. Absolutely. Actually, I love that. I resonate with that so well because I’m often disappointed when a transaction ends and that’s the end of our like professional relationship, at least. We often travel with our clients and things like that, which is great, or we’ve become friends along the way. But I’m really looking for and that’s really this new brand is all about how do we work with founders longer term? How do we, like you said, partner with these companies, provide the expertise that we have, and plug in, so they don’t need that skill set but then plug into the skill sets and opportunities the company already has? So, I feel like that network effect is super powerful. And actually, if I’m honest, the mastermind, your mastermind that you’ve put together, the deals are phenomenal, and that’s great, and that set up their life very nice. But the network that you’ve managed, the people you’ve managed to put together is just phenomenal. Every time I have a call, anytime anyone from the group reaches out to me, it’s like, “Oh yes, let’s get on a call,” because you never know who you’re going to be talking to or what. Well, you know who you’re going to be talking to but you never know what opportunities are going to come up or what you’ll learn from the other person. It’s this mutual respect in the group that is just phenomenal. And I’ve never been in a group where there isn’t someone trying to be the top dog. I’ve never seen this before. It’s quite phenomenal. I don’t know how you’ve done it but I love it.
Justin Donald: Well, thank you for the kind words. I really appreciate that. I mean, the real key, Coran, is that I’m really selective with who gets in. So, just because someone can afford to get in does not mean they’re getting in. And if someone does not have the right core values of what the group is, they’re not getting in no matter how much money they have. And I think that’s the specialty there is you find people that they don’t live a life of ego and they just show up to support and to learn. And it is just, I mean, it’s my favorite place to spend time outside of my family. It’s really special. So, I’m glad that you’re part of it, glad that we get to do life together, and I just want to thank you for coming on the show. This has been such a great time. You’re brilliant, so is Leanne. This is such a cool business, and I just wish you continued success but let us know where we can find more about you.
Coran Woodmass: Yeah, absolutely. So, the best way is BillionDollarExits.com. You mentioned Mike. Mike’s actually interviewed me about what Billion Dollar Exit is all about. So, hats off to Mike and thank you for all your help over there. You can watch that video and see what we’re up to and there are extra resources there, including 10 mindsets behind billion-dollar deals that are pretty uncommon. So, you can learn all about that and implement those in your own business, in your own strategy. So, in other words, feel free to reach out. Contact us from there. And if you are in The Lifestyle Investor group, definitely reach out to me. I’m more than happy to take your call.
Justin Donald: Yeah, and I highly recommend anyone in The Lifestyle Investor community be sure to reach out to Coran, and that is a smart move. Hopefully, you get some of his magic to rub off on you. So, I appreciate it and I just want to end today the way I always end it, which is this, what is one step that you can take today to move closer to financial freedom and towards a lifestyle by design, not by default, a lifestyle on your terms where you get to use your gifts and spend your time in a way that serves you and your family the best way humanly possible. Thanks. And we’ll catch you next week.