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EXECUTION My biggest purchase…$40k SaaS stock trading platform, using $28k of debt

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JM35

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I’ve never bought a five-figure website before but have been wanting to for the past year or so. I have simply been waiting for the right opportunity, and I finally found it two weeks ago. The problem was that it was a little big bigger than what I anticipated jumping into for my first “big” deal.

The site is a chat room for active day traders and swing traders, with a few other features. It’s been around since 2016 and closed out 2018 on approx. $37k of revenues and $30k of profits. Subscriber churn had been a bit of an issue but the owner hadn’t touched the site in 6 months and it was still hanging in right at $2k profit over the past 3 months.

(If anyone here is an active trader, I would love to run this site by you and get your feedback and thoughts)

I have a technical finance background and have always wanted a SaaS business, plus my roommate used to day trade (free employee :D ), so it was the perfect opportunity.

I went in at a $30k offer and ended up settling at $40k.

The issue is I didn’t have a liquid $40k. I’m a rather illiquid guy, I’ve only been accumulating wealth (working) for 1.5 years now and I bought about $12k of websites in 2018, so most of my wealth is tied up in non-liquid websites. Fortunately, my day job pays well and I have good credit.

Most people hate debt, but I love it.

I liquidated $12k from my eTrade account, and then borrowed $8k on margin. My other positions in my account are the stock of the company I work for and we’re in a no-trade period due to earnings season, so I borrowed against it instead.

I still needed $20k so I went down the hassle-some road of getting an unsecured line of credit from a bank. This was a PITA, so I got on Marcus, Goldman Sachs personal lending platform, to see what I could get there. In a matter of 5 minutes I had the $20k on its way to my bank. Didn’t have to talk to anyone, didn’t have to submit any additional info or verification….I only had to sign one loan agreement. It blew my mind how easy this was. 3 days later it was in my account.

Overall cap structure:

-$12k of equity

-$8k margin loan, 9.75%

-$20k Marcus unsecured loan, 54 months at 11.99% (personal recourse of course)

The site currently has about 30 active/paying subscribers. It used to have ~150 back when the owner was focusing a lot of effort on it. The goal is to get it back up into the triple digits for subscribers by the end of the year, and double profitability within first 6 months.

Not a huge site in comparison to some others around here, but a huge move for me at this point in life. Hoping I can be like @biophase and write my “how to buy a lamborgihini (or mp4-12c) for $40k” next.
 

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Knugs

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Can you elaborate on your decision-making, I think I'm missing the opportunity. 40k for 30 active subscribers generating 2k over 3 months on a website that has been dropping numbers from its high of 150 subscribers sounds expensive to me. Why have the subscriber numbers dropped so significantly? How are you going to grow back the numbers?

Def applaud you for the amount of balls it took to make a decision like that.
 
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JM35

JM35

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Can you elaborate on your decision-making, I think I'm missing the opportunity. 40k for 30 active subscribers generating 2k over 3 months on a website that has been dropping numbers from its high of 150 subscribers sounds expensive to me. Why have the subscriber numbers dropped so significantly? How are you going to grow back the numbers?

Def applaud you for the amount of balls it took to make a decision like that.
About 70% of the current active subscribers have been subscribers for over a year which gives me a good degree of confidence that they aren't going to fall off a cliff anytime soon.

One of the member benefits is daily watch lists and weekly "spotlight" trade ideas. The owner hadn't been doing any of this since September, so a degree of fall-off was simply from subscribers being frustrated that they weren't getting what they paid for. By simply re-implementing these, I think I can keep subscribers around for a lot longer. Also, free trial members would join, see that everything is stale and then never convert to full member. This should hopefully be fixed now too that I update daily.

Also, no content had been updated for 2019. I went in and updated a few of his old top posts and traffic has rebound 3x in the last two weeks from that alone.

The drop hasn't been dramatic and there has always been a stable base of paying subscribers. All the site needs is to be constantly refreshed with new trade ideas and things like that to keep paying customers happy. Then it's simply a game of customer acquisition - with very little email marketing or automation done, I think I can do a lot here.
 

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I just worked on financials for a trading Saas, what a small world (it wasn't this one, I can tell by the amounts you put in your description).

I had the same concerns when running through the analysis - user churn. What makes your software proprietary, unique, and better than the rest? And how do you communicate that with all the skepticism around trading? Obviously these are rhetorical, and I'm assuming you've already addressed them internally, just want to think out loud in case it digs up other things to think about.
 
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JM35

JM35

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How much would it have cost you to build a comparable platform from scratch?
I would have to guess easily over $10,000. Two of the tools that the site offers are custom programmed specifically for this site. I don't think they are super complex, but definitely a few grand to build each. On top of that the whole site is custom designed and built, with a lot of nice things under the hood.

I think the value here though outside of the fully built platform is the existing customer base and the ability to re-target old customers who churned out cause the site wasn't being updated constantly enough. It also has a good SEO footprint and generates 300+ email subs per month.

I just worked on financials for a trading Saas, what a small world (it wasn't this one, I can tell by the amounts you put in your description).

I had the same concerns when running through the analysis - user churn. What makes your software proprietary, unique, and better than the rest? And how do you communicate that with all the skepticism around trading? Obviously these are rhetorical, and I'm assuming you've already addressed them internally, just want to think out loud in case it digs up other things to think about.
That's funny - there is definitely a lot of them out there. I noticed this when doing due diligence...it seems like anyone who has been successful as a day trader starts their own chat room or partners up with an existing business in the space. I think the reason for the high churn is that day trading is a high churn industry to start with. It's like MLM in a way...people hear about the handful of people that are making a lot of money doing it and want to give it a shot, only to find out it is actually pretty difficult to survive in the long run.

That being said, differentiation is extremely difficult.

I emailed all the existing subscribers when I took over the business and asked them to provide some feedback and recommendations. And it sounds like what most of them want is: a professional trader, who wins more than he loses, that is handing trades out to them on a platter. Therefore, if they have a little bad luck on some trades, they jump ship to the next "professional" chat room where the trade ideas are hopefully better. The best platforms are the ones that teach people to trade for themselves.

It will definitely be a learning process. I don't think this business is scalable to $20k per month where it stands right now, but I do think it can profit a consistent $5k per month without major improvements or changes.
 

Patrick Jones

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I think the value here though outside of the fully built platform is the existing customer base
Generally they are a website's most valuable asset. But in your case there are only 30.

Did you get an assessment of the codebase's quality? Was it built by a pro or is it home-grown?
 

Kevin88660

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I’ve never bought a five-figure website before but have been wanting to for the past year or so. I have simply been waiting for the right opportunity, and I finally found it two weeks ago. The problem was that it was a little big bigger than what I anticipated jumping into for my first “big” deal.

The site is a chat room for active day traders and swing traders, with a few other features. It’s been around since 2016 and closed out 2018 on approx. $37k of revenues and $30k of profits. Subscriber churn had been a bit of an issue but the owner hadn’t touched the site in 6 months and it was still hanging in right at $2k profit over the past 3 months.

(If anyone here is an active trader, I would love to run this site by you and get your feedback and thoughts)

I have a technical finance background and have always wanted a SaaS business, plus my roommate used to day trade (free employee :D ), so it was the perfect opportunity.

I went in at a $30k offer and ended up settling at $40k.

The issue is I didn’t have a liquid $40k. I’m a rather illiquid guy, I’ve only been accumulating wealth (working) for 1.5 years now and I bought about $12k of websites in 2018, so most of my wealth is tied up in non-liquid websites. Fortunately, my day job pays well and I have good credit.

Most people hate debt, but I love it.

I liquidated $12k from my eTrade account, and then borrowed $8k on margin. My other positions in my account are the stock of the company I work for and we’re in a no-trade period due to earnings season, so I borrowed against it instead.

I still needed $20k so I went down the hassle-some road of getting an unsecured line of credit from a bank. This was a PITA, so I got on Marcus, Goldman Sachs personal lending platform, to see what I could get there. In a matter of 5 minutes I had the $20k on its way to my bank. Didn’t have to talk to anyone, didn’t have to submit any additional info or verification….I only had to sign one loan agreement. It blew my mind how easy this was. 3 days later it was in my account.

Overall cap structure:

-$12k of equity

-$8k margin loan, 9.75%

-$20k Marcus unsecured loan, 54 months at 11.99% (personal recourse of course)

The site currently has about 30 active/paying subscribers. It used to have ~150 back when the owner was focusing a lot of effort on it. The goal is to get it back up into the triple digits for subscribers by the end of the year, and double profitability within first 6 months.

Not a huge site in comparison to some others around here, but a huge move for me at this point in life. Hoping I can be like @biophase and write my “how to buy a lamborgihini (or mp4-12c) for $40k” next.
I trade daily via Interactive Broker.

Before I became a financial consultant (present role), I traded full time with a proprietary trading firm.

I am interested to know more about your website.
 
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JM35

JM35

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Generally they are a website's most valuable asset. But in your case there are only 30.

Did you get an assessment of the codebase's quality? Was it built by a pro or is it home-grown?
No I didn't get any sort of assessment done. The programs and the site itself were built by professional freelancers. I've been in contact with both and they are happy to keep helping on an as needed basis so I don't have any issues.
I trade daily via Interactive Broker.

Before I became a financial consultant (present role), I traded full time with a proprietary trading firm.

I am interested to know more about your website.
I'll shoot you a PM.

I'm in this industry if you want to chat... you paid a lot more than I would have paid.
I'll shoot you a PM. It's 20x the trailing 3 months and 16x the 2018 average, which I think is reasonable for something like this.
 

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MJ DeMarco

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So you bought at 1.3X earnings which isn't a bad metric, what concerns me is just 30 subscribers? IOW, that is $1,333 per subscriber. Is there any thing proprietary about the website and its features? Any chance we can get a link to the website? (Should we move this inside so we can get a deeper look?)

That said, if you blow up the site to 100 subscribers or 1000, you won't care you overpaid by a few Gs.

Would love to take a look, but I understand if privacy is an issue (even if we link it on the Inside.)
 
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JM35

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So you bought at 1.3X earnings which isn't a bad metric, what concerns me is just 30 subscribers? IOW, that is $1,333 per subscriber. Is there any thing proprietary about the website and its features? Any chance we can get a link to the website? (Should we move this inside so we can get a deeper look?)

That said, if you blow up the site to 100 subscribers or 1000, you won't care you overpaid by a few Gs.

Would love to take a look, but I understand if privacy is an issue (even if we link it on the Inside.)
Was just being cautious, but happy to share as I'm guessing there is some good feedback to be had. The site is StackedBid | Stock Trading Chat Room & Daily Hot Stock Watchlists

There isn't anything extremely proprietary here, and there are certainly platforms out there that provide more value to their members. There is a good loyal subscriber base that has been around for a long time and the site has done well at getting new sign-ups, the issue in the last few months or so is just getting the new sign-ups to stick around for long enough to be multi-month paying customers since the site has been stale. It would be like paying $120 to go inside on here and then realizing there hasn't been a post on the inside in the last 4 months.

I've spent the last few weeks just refreshing things and now am focusing heavily on email marketing. I think there is a lot of opportunity to bring back old subscribers or trial users now that the site has been refreshed.

I think the main need of the business is to get live professional traders or "Moderators" onto the platform to provide live trade ideas and answer technical questions and things like that. My thought for this has been to target experienced or pro traders who already have a following (via twitter, youtube, etc.) and get them to partner with my platform. So give each pro trader their own chatroom for their followers to hangout in, for them to provide their own watch lists, trade setups, etc. and offer them 50% of the recurring revenues that they refer over. So essentially getting them to tap into and monetize their follower base.

EDIT: also happy to give anyone here a free account so that they can see what the members-only area looks like.
 

MJ DeMarco

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There is a good loyal subscriber base that has been around for a long time and the site has done well at getting new sign-ups, the issue in the last few months or so is just getting the new sign-ups to stick around for long enough to be multi-month paying customers since the site has been stale. It would be like paying $120 to go inside on here and then realizing there hasn't been a post on the inside in the last 4 months.
So who is sending out the trade alerts? There hasn't been a trade alert in 4 months?

I thought subscribers were paying for trade ideas?

Overall the website looks well done if it is doing what it says it is doing.
 
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JM35

JM35

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So who is sending out the trade alerts? There hasn't been a trade alert in 4 months?

I thought subscribers were paying for trade ideas?

Overall the website looks well done if it is doing what it says it is doing.
Exactly...the old owner wasn't sending out trade alerts or watch lists for nearly 4 months. And that's what these people are paying to receive, hence the high churn. As of last week we're now sending out weekly watch lists, daily watch lists, and 1-2 detailed trade ideas per week with entry levels/stop losses/price targets/technical breakdowns.

Subscribers are now receiving everything they are told they will receive, which I think will dramatically help with the churn. Now it's just a customer acquisition/marketing game.
 

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Exactly...the old owner wasn't sending out trade alerts or watch lists for nearly 4 months. And that's what these people are paying to receive, hence the high churn. As of last week we're now sending out weekly watch lists, daily watch lists, and 1-2 detailed trade ideas per week with entry levels/stop losses/price targets/technical breakdowns.

Subscribers are now receiving everything they are told they will receive, which I think will dramatically help with the churn. Now it's just a customer acquisition/marketing game.
Did you personally have this knowledge? Or do you just know "the right person" to create these lists?
 
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JM35

JM35

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Did you personally have this knowledge? Or do you just know "the right person" to create these lists?
My roommate used to spend his summers day trading. I wouldn't call him a pro, probably more at an intermediate level, but he is knowledgeable enough to be dangerous.

I'm personally not as knowledgeable on day trader techniques like technical chart patterns, but I have a good finance background and am strong in fundamental stock and financial statement analysis.
 

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Nice ! Good luck ! I personnally think this has great potential and time will tell if the risk was worth it, but if you could afford it, at least you're trying something. Plus it won you a massive amount of time comparing to building it from scratch.
How did you find this website to buy ?
 
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JM35

JM35

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Nice ! Good luck ! I personnally think this has great potential and time will tell if the risk was worth it, but if you could afford it, at least you're trying something. Plus it won you a massive amount of time comparing to building it from scratch.
How did you find this website to buy ?
It was on Flippa. I'm on just about every brokerage distribution list out there and keep my ears open in the market, but Flippa seems to be the best platform to find sub-$50k opportunities. Just need to make sure you do adequate due diligence before pulling the trigger.
 

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Congratulation on the purchase, you took action - something most people never do.

From my point of view, the website looks solid, you've got a good product concept and there seems to be demand for the product.

What you need is a cash injection in order to build out your funnel and kick-start your marketing campaign. Probably need $50k to get top tier talent to help you with that.

All the best, good luck with everything!!!
 
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JM35

JM35

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Congratulation on the purchase, you took action - something most people never do.

From my point of view, the website looks solid, you've got a good product concept and there seems to be demand for the product.

What you need is a cash injection in order to build out your funnel and kick-start your marketing campaign. Probably need $50k to get top tier talent to help you with that.

All the best, good luck with everything!!!
I've got a good web developer that can do about anything I can imagine, so it's just a matter of coming up with the ideas and executing. I've been tapping into the existing customers pretty hard and been personally reaching out to every new subscriber and everyone who cancels to get ideas/feedback/etc.

I think the most important thing is getting live pro traders into the chat room, so I've slowly been reaching out to ones with a following and offering them 50% of the recurring revenues of people they can get to sign-up. Some of these guys run their own free chat rooms so it would just be as simple as them moving over to our platform and asking their existing followers to pay a monthly subscription for the additional value our site has.

Hoping to aggressively pay debt down and then reinvest 100% back into the business to get it to 5-figure monthly profits.

Will include monthly updates on this thread to keep track of progress.
 

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HackVenture

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Looks like an exciting project, keep us updated!

One thing I didn't understand though, how is this a SaaS business? It looks like people are subscribing in order to get signals and not to use any software?

If you could add a separate section for crypto trades I think it would be pretty lucrative, especially when bull market comes again. I personally know a bunch of people paying for signals, and so am I. With the volatility of crypto, not too hard to sell a signal service if there's a decent track record IMO.
 
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JM35

JM35

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February Update:

Revenue: $1.6k.
Thoughts: Came in a little soft. Mostly due to excess subscriber churn, which I am hoping/expecting was an outlier. I also ran into a $336 chargeback from prior months. Argued to have the seller pay this but ultimately just ate it since I received $300 of post-close revenues that should have gone to the seller from money that was waiting to be paid out on Stripe. Also ran into $400 of unexpected web development issues due to me breaking stuff by trying to improve the site.

Net New Customers: -4
Thoughts: I lost a handful during the transition of the business as the old owner had ignored some cancellation requests from existing customers. I added back 4 over the course of the month but then had another 4 drop off. I think there were a handful of clients that had forgotten they were still paying for this service until I woke the beast with my daily emails.

Improvements:
-Restored all of the services, clients are now getting 100% of the things that the membership promises them
-Fixed broken code issues that were preventing sign-ups due to an unclickable sign-up button...noticed a positive pickup in new sign-ups since this
-Switched from Aweber to ConvertKit
-Traffic spiked to be on trend for 6k/uniques, up from 1.5k uniques, simply from updating a few outdated blog posts
-Improved email opt-in forms and am getting nearly 7% conversion on my main one

Things I'm currently working on:
-Setting up automation, sequences, and segmenting on ConvertKit...lot of emails to write here
-Developing a sales funnel: landing pages and checkout pages...just got Leadpages yesterday, so hopefully rolled out by the end of the month
-Rolling out weekly blog posts, primarily to keep site fresh in google's eyes and to use for email campaigns
-New service offerings: first up is a news feed that is searchable by ticker or company name and aggregates news from hundreds of finance sites
-Going to experiment with annual pricing and offer 30-40% discount for upfront payment, would result in higher LTV than month to month

Issues I'm running into:
-Web development is the big one. The site uses Git and a handful of things (ssh, droplets?) that I don't know how to use. Plugins aren't added to wordpress the normal way, so I have to pay my developer to install them. He charges $125/hour and charged me $62.50 just to have 2 plugins installed. Currently looking to find a cheaper developer and trying to teach myself Git
-Emails ending up in spam. This has been a bid deal that I need to figure out how to fix. I'm thinking low historical open rates and high amounts of spam reports in the past have hampered the @stackedbid.com domain name and is causing a lot of my stuff to go to spam for gmail, yahoo, etc. email addresses. They are even showing up as spam on my own gmail account when the other email is linked to my gmail account and I've sent numerous emails back and forth and "report not spam" all the times it has ended up in spam.

Would love to hear any ideas on fixing my email spam issue if anyone has experienced this before.
 

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Hey @JM35,

I'm big into UI/UX so thought I could offer up some feedback/ideas. These probably aren't your priority right now but overall are small tweaks and details that I think would make your site a lot better in the long run.

I'm also going to PM you some private stuff about your site.
  • I can't seem to find any screenshots of the trading platform (except one vague one on the Membership page), makes it difficult to know what you are getting when you purchase. Screenshots are super important for SaaS IMO. Would be nice to have one on the homepage and on the "How it Works" page.
  • The images on "How it Works" page are not informative at all. They tell me nothing about the platform.
  • Your headline on your homepage is too faded. Should be bolder/pop more.
  • Your "Try StackedBid Today" button on "How it Works" is broken after putting in your email: redirects to a Wordpress admin post page that is blank. It seems the form action is supposed to post to that page.
  • Your "membership" page hides the monthly rates by putting them in small text below the 7-day $1 trial price. That is pretty sneaky/slimey and I don't think a lot of people will like that. It should be obvious what someone is signing up for, since the trial will renew at the higher price after the 7 days.
  • Consider having annualized discounts for membership.
  • You should consider using a table for the features for each price point your membership page and coloring the available features. Highlight the differences in the tiers more.
  • Also why are all the memberships called "Pro ___"? Confusing. Why not do Basic, Pro, Ultra? or something that makes more sense
  • Consider making the "Pro Standard" membership option larger than the other two and have a corner banner saying "most popular option" or similar.
  • One of your blog posts previews on your homepage is broken and displays the entire post (making the column extraordinarily long)
  • You should use a typeface for your footer logo (like your navbar) or an SVG. As an image it is blurry.
  • Your icons on homepage could be crisper (use SVG or an icon database like FontAwesome, Material Icons, etc.)
  • Your homepage background image is also not crisp.
  • No PayPal option for payment?
I'm going to PM you some other stuff.

Cheers,

Ryan
 
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JM35

JM35

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Once a domain is blacklisted it is tough to bring back. I'd purchase another domain with a similar or complimentary name and use it for future emails.
Do you think purchasing something like stackedbid.co and using that would be a good idea?
 

ApparentHorizon

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No PayPal option for payment?
PP will freeze your funds when too many people charge back. Often after they've blown up their account, and blame the platform instead of taking responsibility. I'm part of a day trading room where the owner had $70k stuck for 3 months.

Since he's running WordPress, a stripe or square gateway to accept CCs will work fine.

Would love to hear any ideas on fixing my email spam issue if anyone has experienced this before.
It's not difficult, and people often use a different domain or subdomain to send emails.

Tips to reduce spam flag
- Double opt-in. When someone signs up for the newsletter, send them an automatic email to confirm it.
- Short emails do better (ones that fit within the view height of a standard monitor)
- Don't hide the unsubscribe option in small text
- Don't use HTML templates

Check your email standing with these:
Newsletters spam test by mail-tester.com
Sender Score | Return Path
Cisco Talos Intelligence Group - Comprehensive Threat Intelligence
ReputationAuthority | WatchGuard Technologies
BarracudaCentral.org - Technical Insight for Security Pros
http://www.trustedsource.org/

When you're marked as spam, check which filter service flagged you and go to their website to request a removal.

If you don't already have this option implement it: Remove people who flag your emails.

Going back to the unsubscribe option. What I see everyone doing is hiding the unsub button at the bottom of the email, under the fold, and in small font. Why? Well, we don't want people going away, ofc. Except, you've now made it a PITA to get away from you if your content doesn't jive with the reader. But you know what's easy? Clicking the spam button. 1 click and done.

Often times, reporting once will still allow the subscriber to receive emails from you. So you get 3-4 spam reports from 1 person.

I've seen opt-outs where they send you to a page, have you input your email and manually select which topics you want to be removed from. I went back to the original email and marked as spam out of spite.

You can still put the unsub button at the bottom. Just don't hide it.

Imagine having a physical store, and you have an angry customer fuming and walking around the isles looking for a door. You'd want them out as soon as possible.

/rant​

Lastly: Sign up for an email authentication service like sendgrid.com and get a dedicated IP.

Website

Like rwhyan said. Screenshots. Maybe some pictures of people's faces as well. After all, it is a community. Where's the feeling of community?

- Check your main headline + subheadline on a 4:3 monitor, it's hard to read.
upload_2019-3-6_10-3-38.png

- Also, why is your $1 trial, not the CTA, instead of Create My Account? Or you can have it to the left of the button.

- This page: https://stackedbid.com/recent-winners/
- - For the video you can get a great voiceover for $100 on fiverr
- - Seems like the video should go on the homepage as part of the main intro, above the fold

upload_2019-3-6_10-7-11.png
- The Possible gain is off putting to me. The entry is sensible, but having a "Possible" gain at the very top is amateurish. Then there's no explanation of what's going on.

- Spruce this up, it's boring
upload_2019-3-6_10-10-21.png
upload_2019-3-6_10-10-38.png

Look up pricing tables on Google images

upload_2019-3-6_10-11-4.png

- Separate the footer from the rest of the body. It blends in too much

upload_2019-3-6_10-12-10.png

- Also, I'm not sure if you have GDPR compliant notices for the EU, but that may prevent you from showing up in EU searches

- This is super bland too:
upload_2019-3-6_10-14-34.png

Hope that helps! This looks like an exciting project.

I've been trading for a number of years now. (less so recently for other projects) but if you still need feedback on the backend, feel free to DM me.
 
OP
OP
JM35

JM35

Bronze Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jul 13, 2013
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Denver
Thanks for all the feedback here guys...working on implementation today!

Teaching myself Git and SSH so I can make the small changes myself.

Also working on building landing pages since I agree the online course/ebook page is ugly!

Planning on making the course/ebook a bundle package and drastically reducing price to increase conversion. $29 for lifetime access to course, plus 30-days free access to our ultra membership. Ultra membership will renew at $79/month if not cancelled in 30-day period.

The course is currently available to anyone on the Ultra trial, and I think some people have been doing the trial, copying the course to word doc, then cancelling. So I'm going to make the ebook only available once free trial is over, which should make the above option more economical and valuable for the business.

A lot of our free trial members never convert over to full-time...obviously I need to work on creating more value to change this. But thought process is this bundle will increase revenues for those people that never convert over. I'll at least get $29 out of them instead of $1. And for that bigger upfront payment they get a $28/month lifetime discount on the ultra membership if they want to hang around.

Obviously need to focus on getting trial members to convert to full-time rather than just trying to squeeze the non-converters for more money too.
 

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