MicroAcquire to Flippa – 8 marketplaces to buy & sell startups

Updated on 16th October 2021

Bootstrapped and ready to sell your online business? Here's the best startup marketplaces to do so.

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, there’s a trusty online marketplace for your niche. With a queue of potential buyers on their database, there’s no need to go it alone.

That said, the marketplaces come in all shapes and sizes, with different sales processes, so it’s worth knowing the benefits of each, what support they offer and the fees involved for all parties.

The best places to buy and sell online businesses are:

  1. MicroAcquire
  2. Flippa
  3. Exchange Marketplace
  4. Empire Flippers
  5. GetAcquired
  6. Motion Invest
  7. SideProjectors
  8. Investors Club

MicroAcquire - the bootstrapper’s marketplace

Ditch the brokers and go direct with this fuss-free marketplace. As the name suggests, MicroAcquire deals in early stage startups rather than behemoths, specifically companies with $500,000 ARR or less. Typical business models are SaaS, ecommerce, affiliates and display ads.

Founder Andrew Gazdecki recognises that selling your business is usually a long and painful experience. Full of shady tactics and dead ends. MicroAcquire does the background checks upfront and cuts through the crap so you can get deals done in 30 days or less – with zero fees or commission! Because they’re happy to do all the heavy lifting, it’s a popular service with first-time sellers.

MicroAcquire has done over $50m in deals so far – not bad considering it only got started in 2020. The typical interested buyer is somebody looking to skip the work involved in getting something started and instead take an existing website or SaaS business to the next level. Plus, soon you’ll be able to raise funds from investors for acquisitions within MicroAcquire itself. Game changer!

Flippa - 250,000 interested buyers on tap

As the #1 global marketplace for digital assets. Be that SaaS companies, apps, newsletters, blogs or domain names. It sells a huge number of each at any one time and has presided over 300,000 deals since 2009.

Using Flippa, you can list your online business for sale with key metrics and a product demo; find and communicate with qualified potential buyers; agree terms; perform due diligence and get paid. As part of the listing process, Flippa will even give you an expert valuation based on your historical performance and asset type. A streamlined end-to-end sales process!

For the pleasure, Flippa charges a small listing fee (typically $10-$49) and a ‘success fee’ (a 5-15% of the total transaction). Of course, there’s the evitable upgrades to make their newsletter, run confidential listings or receive assisted listing support. With 250,000 buyers on their books, Flippa has the right level of visibility and safeguards in place to push up your asking price.

Exchange Marketplace - by Shopify, for Shopify stores

Powered by Shopify, Exchange Marketplace is the number one place to buy and sell Shopify stores. Being owned by Shopify, both parties can proceed with confidence. Sales and traffic data on listings is locked-in by Shopify’s dashboards, payment is secure and there’s even migration support once you’ve made your purchase.

Like Flippa, there’s a valuation tool to help put a realistic price tag on your business.

Interested buyers will love the curated listings that allow you to find a bargain, a dropship store, local businesses or a Shopify Partner App for sale. There’s so much choice and the multiples are very reasonable.

Empire Flippers - established sites only

The first business they sold was their own. Fast-forward to today and Empire Flippers has done over $200m in successful deals covering Amazon sellers, eCommerce stores, SaaS, subscriptions and affiliates. Empire Flippers lists new businesses for sale every Monday so keep your eyes peeled.

Sales under $700,000 are charged a flat rate of 15% commission on the final price. For that, you get: verified listings; promotion to a big pool of serious buyers; a success rate of 82%; and concierge migration service once a deal is done. Customer service is noticeably superior every step of the way. They’ve many years in the game so can get under the skin of complex deals with a cap table, deal structuring and Intellectual Property law.

Empire Flippers only works with established sites – whether that’s stable income streams, solid traffic or real followers. As a result, you can expect a higher selling price than with online marketplaces with less due diligence. The price for all this is a fixed $297 listing fee.

And if you’re wondering what to do after you sell, Empire Flippers is always on the lookout for proven operators to grow a portfolio of sites. EF Capital is their fund pairing accredited investors with builders of content or SaaS websites. You get to choose the niche, the sites, how you grow it and the level of profit you re-invest. The fund aims for 20% average annual returns for all parties.

GetAcquired - SaaS marketplace

Another new kid on the block, looking to speed and shake up the traditional buying process. GetAcquired deals exclusively in buying and selling SaaS startups.

Listings are hidden from public view, but once you’re registered you’ll get access to a wealth of SaaS businesses for sale, complete with verified listings thanks for billing and analytics integrations, such as Stripe, Recurly, Google Analytics and App Store.

GetAcquired like to nudge sales along so they’ll facilitate introductions, offer advice on all aspects of a deal and can even join your team and strike the best possible price for sellers for an additional fee.

Pricing is not obvious until you get closer to listing and you can tell the service is just getting started. Not the biggest or the most polished but definitely one to watch.

Motion Invest - for a quick sale

Motion Invest deals are typically $20,000 or less. All sites are vetted by seasoned and passionate flippers, and are either put up for sale by the third-party owner or Motion Invest themselves. As a seller you get a guaranteed sale, with Motion Invest a happy buyer if you’re looking for a quick deal.

Listings must be profitable, be it through Affiliate. Adsense, display ads, Ezoic or sales, typically in the $500-$5,000 per month range. In other words, proven but ripe for growth. Sale prices are fair and key metrics extremely transparent.

SideProjectors - the DIY option

Born out of a hackathon in 2013, SideProjectors is a growing community of hackers and makers working on side-projects. The marketplace for selling and buying hustles is 100% free to use – there’s no listing fee and no cut on any deal.

The first step is to integrate your ProductHunt page to retrieve your project and pre-fill the submission form. With no diligence process, this is probably the quickest site on which to list your startup.

If your side-project simply needs more manpower, you can also use SideProjectors to advertise for a co-founder or a collaborator.

Investors Club - serious buyers only

For deals in the $20,000-$100,000+ range. Investors Club undertake rigorous due diligence for its members, who pay an upfront premium for the privilege of detailed reports and early-access to deals – a £247 p/a or $747 lifetime membership fee. In exchange for no fees on the seller side, they must sign an exclusivity agreement guaranteeing they won’t list it anywhere else.

Has a good feel about it for prospective buyers and sellers who want frictionless trades in high-quality sites. Investors Club’s 24-point buyer reports are a real win, covering areas such as traffic, SEO, niche analysis, competitive advantage, market share, growth-plans and domain health.

Dan.com (bonus) - buy and sell domains

If, you me, you’re sitting on a graveyard of domain names deserving of a better owner, I thoroughly recommend listing them on Dan.com.

The no-nonsense platform makes it easy to list a domain for sale or hire. Simply point its very own For Sale page, set your price and wait for the first offer to come in. Renting your domain out or letting the prospective buyer pay in installments is another option, although both options come with higher fees.

Dan.com has brokered over 100,000 domains and I can vouch for how quick and easy the process is from initial offer to transfer. Payouts usually take 12-24 hours.

In summary

Unlike a few years ago, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to buying and selling businesses online. It needed be a time consuming or painful affair.

As a potential buyer, it’s important to do your research, investigate the niche and the added value you’re getting with any sale. Verified revenue and other key metrics are a must. Check out recent ratings on software review sites such as Trustpilot, too and try a few valuation calculators to ensure the asking price is fair. Don’t forget the upsides too - make sure you know the easy wins you’ll put in place to grow the site and what your own exit might look like.

Most of all, good luck!

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