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After 13 years of growing Sendible from 0 to almost 8 figures in ARR, I decided to sell. AMA!

The Backstory

The last 13 years have been the most challenging and rewarding of my life. Sendible started as a little Windows application that I developed on the side to help my dad schedule emails to his employees on their birthdays.

After spending a few months hacking it together in my spare time, I started to notice more and more social networks cropping up. Whenever I saw a new platform start to gain traction, I would integrate it into the software.

Soon, it became much more than just an email scheduler. It made SENDing any type of message possIBLE: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace (RIP 💀 ) – you name it!

In the middle of 2008, I decided I wanted the world to try it. So, I bought a second-hand server for £10, plugged it into my home router, and boom – Sendible.com was born.

Since then, we’ve seen:

  • Over 300 thousand people try the platform
  • Over 2 million social profiles connected
  • Over 200 million posts published

Watching Sendible beat the odds as a bootstrapped company in a hyper-competitive space and go on to become a market-leading social media management platform has been the highlight of my career.

Reaching my limit as a founder

When I was first getting started, I distinctly remember pitching the idea to an investor and them telling me, “Anyone can create scheduling software. No-one’s going to pay for this. This will never be a business.”

But, I didn’t give up. That kind of feedback only fuelled my fire and made me want to prove them wrong.

I had seen how social networks were starting to compete for people’s attention and I knew there would come a time that businesses would need software to help them maintain a presence on each platform in an efficient way.

Since then, I’ve thrown my entire being into Sendible. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about the business and how I can help our team bring more value to our customers.

Today, Sendible is growing faster than ever before, with record new customers signing up each month. We have a fantastic product that just keeps getting better, and our team of all-stars is executing at an efficiency I’ve never seen before. Sendible has simply been a dream company to lead and is well-poised for even more explosive growth.

But with all this growth, I’ve found myself needing to take a step back in order to empower our incredible team to move Sendible forward. I recognise this is what has enabled us to scale, but for me personally, it has meant moving further away from where my passions lie as an entrepreneur. As someone who loves to get his hands dirty and “break things”, I found myself having to hold back for the good of the company.

One of our core values at Sendible is authenticity. In the middle of 2020, I noticed the enthusiasm that fuelled my work was starting to fade and I realised I wasn’t being my authentic self.

It quickly dawned on me that I may have been the right leader to get us to where we are today, but I’m not the right person to take Sendible to the next level. Sendible had become bigger than me and I realised that I had reached the limit of what I had to offer the company as its CEO.

Finding the right acquirer

Around the same time as I had this epiphany, I was being inundated with emails from investors and potential acquirers. Where previously, I would receive one or two emails per week, suddenly I was receiving 5 emails per day. I had never planned to sell the company, so historically, whenever I received an email like this, I would politely skim it, smile, then hit delete.

But, this time, I decided to explore the idea and see what an exit could look like. One of the emails was from the Alpine Software Group (ASG) representing Traject, a suite of innovative digital marketing tools that includes Grade.us and PLANOLY.

As deep experts within the marketing technology space, and with the ability to help us accelerate towards our mission, I quickly found that Traject stood out from all the others as the best place for Sendible.

Their values are almost identical to ours, they have a complementary culture, and most importantly, they are committed to ensuring that Sendible will remain Sendible – both for our exceptional team and the thousands of customers that depend on us every day.

Following a process that began more than 6 months ago, I’m proud to announce that Sendible has been acquired by ASG and is now a part of Traject!

So, what’s next for me?

For the next six months, I’ll be working closely with our new CEO to ensure a smooth transition for the company. After that, I’ll be getting some much-needed rest before launching my new venture.

In the meantime, I want to give back to other entrepreneurs and share the business secrets I’ve learned over 13 years in building a 100% bootstrapped SaaS company from 0 to almost 8 figures in annual revenue! ❤️

AMA (Or if you’d like to follow along as I share my process while I get my new startup off the ground, please subscribe to my newsletter at gavinhammar.substack.com).

  1. 3

    You mentioned a new venture… what's your process like for deciding what to do next and why? Have you considered doing anything outside the tech space at all? I might be in similar shoes to yours at some point in coming years.

    1. 1

      For me, it’s always been about timing a venture with a big shift in the world.

      In late 2008, a few months after I launched, the markets crashed and the rise of unemployment meant people were spending more time on social media. As a result, more and more digital agencies started offering social media management services to struggling businesses to help them capture some of that attention.  For the first couple of years, no-one was willing to pay for social media scheduling (MRR was stagnant at $400), but by the end of 2010, Sendible took off (and MRR had shot up by 2500%).

      I've seen similar opportunities arising since the pandemic started. There has been a massive shift in the world and this is one of the reasons I've been itching to be a startup founder again! I noticed a particular problem we were facing at Sendible – one that I came to realize, a lot of other businesses were facing too.

      So, I guess if were to summarise my mental model, it’s something like this:

      • What big shift is happening (or will happen) in the world over the next 24 months and how is this going to affect people's behavior over the long term?
      • What problems are likely to arise as a result of this change? Can I help solve them?
      • Are other people likely to face the same problem? Can I find them and speak to them and are there enough of them to be able to create a movement?

      I don’t think I would ever venture outside of tech. But, then again, I said I’d never sell, so you never know!

  2. 1

    Hey Gavin,

    Inspiring, congratulations on the sale!

    I've also been working on a social media scheduling platform (https://pallyy.com) similar to Sendible in that we schedule to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and GMB coming soon. I've been at it (completely solo) over the last 1 and a half years - and I'm in a similar situation you were at the beginning; 1.5k MRR and fairly stagnant, struggling to grow.

    What advice if any would you give to me to break through this barrier, and take my service to the next level?

    I know this space is pretty competitive, but it's also constantly evolving - and I feel like there's still room for one more.

    Would love to hear what you think.

    Cheers,

    • Tim
  3. 1

    Congrats on the sale, great read and very inspiring!

    Have just subscribed to keep up to date on your next venture!

    Would love to bounce my new business idea off you if you have a few minutes free :)

  4. 1

    Congrats on the success, this is quite an inspiring story - thank you for sharing!

    Given that Sendible doesn't seems like a hot B2C startup like Snapchat, or FB, or AirBNB, how did you establish a culture or environment in the early days of growing your team to ensure people were excited to come into work?

    1. 1

      Great question… my vision was to create an environment to accelerate the personal and professional growth of anyone who joined the company by giving them:

      • Autonomy to make decisions, to fail gracefully, and to succeed wildly
      • A learning environment, encouraging mastery of new skills
      • A team of like-minded individuals that challenge each other

      We made it clear that by joining our team, they would be empowered to accomplish big things that they have never done before to push Sendible to new heights. It was okay if they didn't know how, but we would give them the tools to grow.

      This attracted people with a growth mindset who wanted to be part of our underdog story. They jumped at the opportunity to compete with well-funded giants like Hootsuite and to show them what could be achieved as a small, bootstrapped company.

      The other major factor was our vision and mission. As CEO, I developed storytelling skills to learn how to sell the vision and get people excited!

      I've shared a lot of how things work behind the scenes at Sendible on our podcast: https://sendible.com/podcast.

      1. 1

        Awesome insightful answer! I can see how that approach would attract motivated, results-oriented people.

        A follow up question: what were your most effective channels to find the first few (let's say 10) good hires?

        Thanks for your time, I'm going to check out the podcast today!

  5. 1

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Very inspiring and eye-opening story. Best of luck with the next chapter!

    1. 2

      Thanks Max. I just checked out your product, great idea! I could definitely use this! I noticed you're still in Early Access – when are you likely to launch?

      1. 1

        Thanks, Gavin! Really appreciate it - especially coming from someone like yourself. We're still in our second beta group and planning for our public launch in June. Happy to send an invite your way if you'd like to give it a go. Just let me know.

        1. 1

          Thanks! I'd love to check it out!

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