The Accidental Entrepreneur: Jonathan Claydon Finding the Ideal Acquirer

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About Our Guest

Jonathan Claydon started Streamline Marketing in 2013 to help brands manage their affiliate programs.

Jon bootstrapped his company to around 30 employees, but avoided hiring for some senior roles in favour of doing much of the work himself. He founded and grew this rapidly to one of the leading firms in the affiliate industry, earning numerous awards for workplace culture and making the Inc 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies 3 years in a row.

Jon is currently the Chief Development Officer for Acceleration Partners, the largest partner marketing agency in the world, where he leads innovation and strategy. He joined Acceleration Partners through the acquisition of Streamline.

Jon is a thought leader and has spoken at numerous industry events. He was also the Chair of the Advertiser Council for the Performance Marketing Association.

About this Episode

The Accidental Entrepreneur: Jonathan Claydon Finding the Ideal Acquirer

Successful exits sometimes require the stars to align, but there is a lot of groundwork you can do as a business owner to prepare. Jonathan Claydon might have fallen into business accidentally, but every move he made afterward was filled with intent.

From bootstrapping a successful affiliate marketing business, to actively encouraging courting from potential acquirers, Jon and his small team were able to grow Streamline to a mid-seven figure revenue business.

With 20+ Letters of Intent under his belt, he knew exactly who was operating in the space, who his strategic partners were, and how much he was willing to walk away for. This episode has a lot of lessons around knowing your market and knowing your buyers to craft the perfect exit.

What you will learn in this episode

In this episode we’ll cover everything from:

  • The premise of affiliate marketing and how to thrive in this space
  • Understanding how the market works with portfolio vs platform acquisitions
  • Knowing how to position yourself for the right type of acquisition
  • How to value your professional services business

Connect with Jonathan Claydon

Show Notes

(9:53) Jonathan landed his first client for his bootstrapped affiliate marketing business, Streamline, by approaching his previous employer. Other big names like Microsoft, Expedia, and T-Mobile were quick to follow.

(17:03) He and the team enjoyed a 95% client retention rate even with a skeleton crew of 5 employees. Here’s why people decided to stick around for the seven years (and beyond) that Streamline was in operation.

(19:52) Like many entrepreneurs, Jon tried to do everything and burned the candle at both ends. He woke up sick one day, then ended up in hospital with a torn oesophagus. Rather than having the company flounder, his team picked up the slack in his absence and created more effective processes than what he was doing. This opened the door for acquisitions.

(31:38) After 20+ Letters of Offer, Jon learned everything he needed to know about the process of selling his business. He had a very good idea of what they were worth, who the players were, and who they could partner with.

(46:12) Streamline was later acquired by “frenemy” company, Acceleration Partners, for 70% cash/30% equity with the help of a dedicated advisory team. Jon and his advisors were able to expedite the process because the timing, buyer, and number all lined up.

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