From a $400 start-up to $44M exit: Meet Stuart Crane

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Industry Roll-Up's

How they can Impact YOU

By capitalising on the natural growth in the industry caused by roll-ups, Stuart Crane was able to rapidly grow his business.


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About Our Guest

Stuart Crane is a seasoned entrepreneur of over 25 years.

Stuart began his career in 1986 working at Battelle Memorial Institute, the world’s largest non‐profit research organisation, in Columbus, Ohio. Specialising in technologies such as smart cards and automatic vehicle identification, he moved into database management and software development work.

After leaving Battelle and building numerous database applications for business clients in the Columbus area, Stuart founded Definitive Homecare Solutions (DHS), a software company focusing on specialty pharmacy, in 1993.

Stuart and his partner started the company with $400 and an office in Stuart’s basement, and they grew it successfully for over 20 years.

Currently, Stuart is the creator of the largest search engine for online stores, ShopSmaller.com, allowing product discovery across millions of stores hosted on platforms such as Shopify, GoDaddy, Squarespace, Square, WooCommerce, and more.

Their browser extension leverages a database of 1.8M online stores and 19M products, offering alternatives while shopping on Big Box sites like Amazon, Walmart, Target, Google Shopping etc.

About this Episode

From a $400 start-up to $44M exit: Meet Stuart Crane

Stuart Crane and his business partner, Jeff, started their health tech business in Stuart’s basement with $400 in 1993. One year later, they were profitable. Twenty years later, they sold for a $44M cash deal with no earn-out.

Although partially chalked up to the right moment at the right time, Stuart still knew he needed to build a viable product. Follow along as Stuart vetted the market, started selling his software on CD-ROMs he physically shipped out, to pivoting his business model to the cloud before finally exiting for 9x EBITDA.

What you will learn in this episode

  • The evolution of SaaS from a floppy disk to the cloud
  • The keys signs it’s time to acquire your competitors
  • Growth levers that impact your valuation
  • How to turn a failed exit into an opportunity

Connect with Stuart Crane

Show Notes

(4:50) Stuart Crane met his business partner over his backyard fence. The two neighbours chipped in $200 each to start their business back in 1993 in Stuart’s basement. 20 years later, they sold it for $44M cash. This is the incredible story.

(14:56) Rather than acquiring similar businesses for rapid growth, the bigger M&A came in Definitive Homecare Solutions’ customer base. Homecare was experiencing widespread roll-ups and Stuart and his partner knew that as the industry grew, their software needs would too.

(21:30) Knowing that the bread and butter for success was in expanding their customer base, Stuart and his partner bought two competitors through a growth through acquisition strategy. This helped scale the company massively.

(35:15) Stuart had two failed attempts at exiting. After six months down the due diligence process, the valuations weren’t high enough to offset their annual profits from the company. He used these as a learning experience for when the right acquirer came knocking.

(45:06) When the right exit finally did come along, the entire process took nine months in total, and Stuart and his partner walked away with $22M each with no earn-out.

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