Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Selling a company successfully: How the Amorana founders did it

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So for a lot of entrepreneurs selling their company is kind of reaching the pinnacle of

their entrepreneurial journey, and while it's such an important moment, there's very little

entrepreneurs that talk about it.

How was it and what were the learnings that they've made when selling their company.

So today, I'm near Zurich, where I'm going to meet the Amorana founders who have recently

sold their company, and they're going to share their experiences from building Amorana but

also selling it.

Let's go.

Hey, guys.

I'm Lukas, and I'm one of the founders and the CEO of Amorana.

My name is Alan Frei, and I'm one of two co-founders of Amorana.

I'm spending the money we earn with marketing.

I'm the head of marketing.

Amorana is an online shop for sexual wellness.

What did you do before?

Did you always know you were going to do this?

No, I didn't.

I was an entrepreneur, when I was at university already had an agency for promotions.

And after studying finance, I went into investment banking.

So I thought I would go the traditional Swiss career of becoming a banker, leaving the banking

system was quite hard because you kind of get locked in.

Obviously, it's a, it's very well paid.

It's very fast-paced, it's a very competitive.

So all of these things were very appealing to me.

But as I was already an entrepreneur, before I started studying, it always kind of pulled

me back into entrepreneurship.

And so I decided to start doing something on my own again.

So Alan called me when he heard that I left banking and asked me if I wanted to do a start-up

with him.

I immediately said, Yes, because I knew Alan from university, he was very well connected.

And I knew it would be quite a good match for building a startup.

But we didn't know what we were going to do.

We decided to have a call every week on Friday to bounce ideas.

And he called me up and do you have an idea?


Do you have an idea?


So let's talk to each other next Friday.

And we did that for three weeks.

That didn't really produce any useful ideas.

So after a while, we said, okay, let's meet Let's meet every Friday and, and brainstorm

and discuss ideas that ended up with us just going out to clubs and bars every Friday.

But eventually, we got there.

And eventually, we started coming up with a few ideas.

And one of them was just to get into E-commerce.

And then we refined it from there, what sector how we're going to do it and everything.

We started with the idea about eight years ago, we realized that the whole sex toy industry

wasn't digitalized yet.

And that there was still a lot of offline retail.

And we read a study that 90% of men and 80% of women would like to try and more in bed,

but they're afraid to ask.

So we started with a subscription model.

Eight years ago, and seven years ago, we started with Amorana.

How did Amorana first warehouse look and where was it at?

So the first warehouse was in my apartment, it was just my living room.

I cleared out the bookshelf and put all the toys in there.

When an order came in.

We just started packing it.

And then I jumped on my bike and drove to the post office to drop off

the box.

At what point did you realize this is really going to be something big

when we start with Amorana, I went out and when I saw a group of people I asked him so

do you know Amorana and in the very beginning, out of 10 people may be one knew Amorana one

day, I went out partying again, I went to a group of people and actually, so we know

Amorana and like eight of 10, knew Amorana.

They didn't buy it at Amorana butt they knew Amorana.

So there I realized, okay, that might be something

in the early stages of Amorana, we started selling a product called Autoblow.

And with our marketing channels that we used, we realize that we were able to sell a lot

of these in Switzerland, we were still very small at the time, so we sold way too many.

So we didn't have them.

We had to source them.

When we actually got them.

We just had to ship out hundreds of them.

And we were only three people.

And that's when you also came and joined to help us pack them.

There was just a step-change in the company where we just realized we could do a lot more


when we moved to a new location.

And we had our first real warehouse and you walk into that warehouse.

So that was really, that was very cool.

And there are several of these where we realized we could just Get to another level.

And we never actually went back after reaching such a level, it just just kept growing very


How big is the team?

What is roughly the revenue per year?

Where do you stand today?

So the team is about 35 people now, half of which are in fulfillment, and the other half

in the office.

And revenue-wise, we don't communicate exact numbers, but we're in double-digit millions

and have been in that range for the past two years.

So that gives you some sense of where we are now.

Already when we founded Amorana, It was our goal, to sell it at some point.

And we always work towards this goal.

And he was always part of the decision making process.

So the decision to then actually start the process of selling, it just came naturally,

because we reached a size where it would make sense, we reached an age of the company revenue

targets that just made sense to start thinking about this process.

So it never felt unnatural, it was just something we worked towards, and it was always go,

then we found this great partner with love honey.

And today we are the largest sex toy reseller in Europe or even the world.

So we have this scale now.

And then suddenly, we can use their know how they can use our know how we can work together

on products.

So that was the reason why we decided to do that.

How did it feel to say goodbye to at least part of your baby, to be honest,

it doesn't feel different, I'm still working here, I still feel very committed to the company

and the vision they have.

So that didn't change at all.

But selling a company that was an emotional roller coaster, because there's someone who

wants to buy it, and then you're super happy.

And then they decide, you know what, we are not going to buy it because of this and this

reason, and then you're again down, and then somebody else comes into the process and,

and they see things they like and then they see things they don't like building company

was took seven years and selling company was like these four or five months, but it was

the same roller coaster again, realizing after like two, three months, okay, it's the same


Again, its ups and downs, and just enjoy the ride, it will be it will be great.

So what did the process look like for Amorana?

were very happy to have a great or, or have had a great board of directors, some of them

have been involved in exit processes before.

So through their information through their know-how we knew pretty quickly with whom

we would start doing this and which investment bank which lawyers etc.

And the investment bank is actually the first contact point they looked at us they look

at the company, and they make a decision if this is something that's sellable.

If this is something they want to go out into the market with, together with them, you decide

kind of what valuation targets you have, what timeline you have, what the potential buyers

would be, this is all done together with the investment bank, then you need lawyers because

it's lots of contracts, I think it was over 500 pages of contracts.

So obviously, you need really good lawyers, there's nothing more expensive than a cheap


Who else did you tell that you were going to sell the company?

No one?

Well, it's important to keep it confidential.

Because when you talk to the investment bank, you don't know that you're actually going

to go out to the market yet you're evaluating the situation in the market, the investment

bank is evaluating the potential buyers.

And until that point where you actually go out and talk to them, no one should know.

So when assessing potential buyers, we would look at several factors.

One of them obviously, is if it's a strategic buyer or not.

Because for us, the strategic buyer was always more interesting, because we wanted to stay

involved in the business.

And there were just a lot of synergies with some of the strategic buyers.

This buyer is also interested in our product and interested in our market and has to know

how in our market that they could bring to the table compared to someone who's just giving

us money.

And then we have to report KPIs.

So what are some of the other factors that an entrepreneur wants to look at and be prepared

to negotiate on when they get a first offer?

So a buyer wants to make an initial investment and usually wants to have some kind of or

Now, based on the numbers that you presented.

He's paying an initial investment based on what you've done so far.

But what you're presenting you will do in the future is usually linked to some kind

of earnout.

So the initial payment is one part.

The earnout is another part.

And then some buyers are looking for a reinvestment of the founders like in our case, Allan and

I reinvested the part of our proceeds back into the company because we want to stay involved.

And it's also something that the buyer wants to know that we stay on board to know that

we're motivated and have aligned incentives about the company.

So anything that you would have done differently?

Yes, setting up everything a bit earlier, because they asked a lot of data

set first interview, obviously, they want to get to know the person.

But after that, it's due diligence.

And then you just need to have the documents ready and we open the data room put all our

documents in their 1000s and 1000s of pages that had to be uploaded in once the data room

is open for the potential buyers, they will start asking questions.

So we actually put a limit on the questions they were allowed to ask, but some of them

as several 100 questions.

And each one of the questions requires more documents.

So you just really have to have your documents ready and sorted, that makes the process a

lot easier.

Always be ready to walk away when the offer doesn't meet the expectations to walk away.

This is something Lucas and I decided very early on, you know, what do you want?

What do I want, we had several discussions about it.

And we were 100% aligned, we could focus all our energy on these external partners, instead

of having internal discussions.

And that was very helpful.

Now there's a few more zeros on your bank account, how has that changed your life, since

you sold the company?

What I realized is that you just just have other stress, maybe 15 minutes, where I was

relaxed, and I'm still happy looking at it.

But suddenly you have other things coming up, you have other problems, money, money

helps, you know, in different things.

I didn't have a lot of money on my bank account.

But suddenly, other things come up, like you know, taking care of negative interest on

your bank account.

Where am I going to invest people calling one to invest your money people calling?

Who wants your money, and maybe I'm a pretty okay entrepreneur.

But being an OK entrepreneur is just not the guarantee for being a great investor.

The whole process of building the company and the whole process of selling your company

was was quite stressful.

My life has been a roller coaster together with Amorana.

It's always ups and downs.

Net and I always joke in a start-up, there's only two phases is either euphoria or panic.

And doing this for seven years kind of takes a toll on you.

Some of it went away, once the deal closed because we actually reached the goal.

And we we achieved what we wanted.

It's not many times in your life, that you work towards something very specific goal

for eight years, and then you achieve it.

And that was very big, very big event for us.

Obviously, the money helps kind of relaxes me at night a little bit I sleep, I sleep

a lot better now.

You're known as someone that doesn't own a ton of stuff.


What does luxury mean to you?

Living in a hotel, I moved into old town.

Two, three weeks ago, that was the best decision ever.

I'm so happy.

And when I'm in that hotel, I'm in that citizen M very small room 1560 square meters, they're

taking care of everything there.

And that's, that's luxury, reducing the stress for things that in my opinion, are not productive

for me, reducing my stress.

But on the other hand, also creating cool things.

These are two things I want to invest my money in and I don't want to invest it in, in having

a new car or something.

But is there anything else that you've bought that you've treated yourself with?

Since you've sold the company?

No, I haven't.

I haven't bought anything.

We said, Look, now we need to celebrate this event.

And we got an ice cream.

And that's actually the only thing I bought so far, which was specific or is specifically

tied to this event.

Allan, thanks so much.

This was

really insightful.

Thanks for having me, and all the best for next few years.

Thank you.

Thanks, Lucas.

Thank you.

Hey, it's Sunday evening, and it's time to head home for me.

But I'm super grateful for everything that Lucas and Allan have shared.

And if you feel the same way, then please give this video that thumbs up and subscribe

to the channel for similar content.

If you want to know more about topics that we discussed, like fundraising versus bootstrapping,

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click here for a video about a day in the life of a VC.

And if that stay curious, Have a beautiful day and we'll talk soon.

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