My Business Was My Passion Project I Never Thought I’d Sell It

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About Our Guest

Nick Gray is the Founder of Museum Hack, a company of actors and educators who give renegade tours at some of the best museums in America, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and The Getty Museum in LA.

Nick hates museums. That’s why he started and grew his multi-million-dollar business, which was featured in a popular TEDx Talk.

In 2007, Nick moved to New York City with no family, very few friends, and less than stellar social skills. But he craved new relationships and exciting opportunities, so he began hosting cocktail parties—a move that opened up doors he never could have imagined.

Today he counts millionaire business owners, world-class artists, and Broadway performers among a circle of friends. The network that he built helped launch Museum Hack. In 2019, Nick sold his business in an interesting way. It starts with a juicy takeover.

Prior to Museum Hack, Nick’s father started Flight Display Systems that made avionics equipment for private jets and military aircraft. Nick helped grow their family business to 75 employees. Then, they eventually sold it.

About this Episode

My Business Was My Passion Project I Never Thought I’d Sell It

Nick Gray turned an activity that he and his friends loved doing into a $3+ million-dollar business. And he did it exactly the way he wanted to.

Starting out in the family business of avionics, Nick had the entrepreneurial itch from a young age as he helped grow the business to 75 employees in 10 years.

Nick then moved into an entirely new space where he founded ‘Museum Hack’ after realising that museums and museum tours can be incredibly stuffy. He embarked on a journey to turn museum tours into fun, interactive and engaging experiences, even using stand-up comedians, actors and scientists to lead the tours.

After a successful but unusual exit in 2019, where his two trusted employees purchased a controlling stake of the business, Nick saw the perfect opportunity to get out, whilst keeping his foot in the door with a 15% share.

This episode is a fascinating look at shared equity models, unusual businesses, and love for genuinely creating something that you’re passionate about.

What you will learn in this episode

In this episode we’ll cover everything from:

  • Why being too close to the business can sometimes be a negative
  • How a seller-financed transaction led to an unusual exit arrangement
  • Why Nick decided to trust the very employees who were buying him out
  • How hiring someone from outside the industry can make all the difference
  • Why a shared equity model can provide a higher valuation

Connect with Nick Gray

Show Notes

(6:14) What would you do if your business got a write up in a famous blog and you suddenly had a 1,000% increase in sales. Would you be able to cope?

(13:29) Hiring your first CEO can be life-changing. For some entrepreneurs, this can be a massive mental roadblock. For others, they relish the growth opportunities. For Nick, he explains how he took a risk, and it changed his life.

(20:01) Nick got a higher valuation of the business when he was selling because he took on more risk with a shared equity model. He talks through that arrangement here, including selling to two of his employees rather than seeking an outside acquirer.

(27:57) During the exit, Nick decided to keep some skin in the game. He structured the deal off the back of vendor financing and retained 15% equity. He talks about why he did that here.

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