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I sold a pre-revenue product, Tolta

First posted as a thread on Twitter.

Today I started the handover of Tolta, my platform for analysing and sharing social and sales data, after selling it last week ✨

This post covers some back-story, why I sold and details of the acquisition.

Tolta has been bought by Bobby Thakkar and Nick Garfield to become a creator-focussed analytics product under their product studio, Ampersand.


Tolta's history

I started building Tolta early this year, initially focussed on creating embeddable live counters of data, like your Twitter follower count, Gumroad sales or YouTube subscribers.

Here's the announcement tweet:

I launched the Alpha version in February and have slowly been building out the initial feature set alongside ilo.so and my other projects. I haven’t yet finished my master plan, three months later.


What is Tolta?

Tolta connects to creator-focussed platforms (YouTube, Twitter, Ghost, Gumroad etc) and monitors data available in each system.

Internally Tolta creates counter analytics, essentially becoming a central place to watch and understand all of your metrics.

Extra features like iOS widgets, an API and embeddable live counters for any web page allow you to get the data out of Tolta and available anywhere you want it.

I personally love seeing live stats on my phone homescreen!


The sale

Last month, Bobby reached out asking if Tolta was available to buy.

He and Nick had been looking into creating an analytics/dashboard tool for creators and realised that Tolta almost exactly aligned with their plan.

By buying an already-built product, Tolta is a great way for them to supercharge their mission.

From what I understand, they will build on top of what I've already put together and expand the feature set.

Tolta has only two customers so far. I haven't yet put effort into growth as ilo has been my main focus recently, and I’ve been in build mode so far.

The acquisition is therefore not life-changing, but it's a decent chunk of change and I'm very happy with the amount.


Why did I sell?

I had plans to grow Tolta to +$5k MRR in the next year by building some B2B features and being able to charge closer to $50/m.

Taking cash now vs. ramping up MRR to a solid level was actually very hard to choose between.

Ultimately, with ilo growing steadily and two new ideas I want to test out, selling now for the amount I received made more sense than not.

I wouldn’t have sold Tolta to just anyone. I first met Bobby in a Clubhouse room in the middle of last year and have watched as he’s come up with and executed on his plan for a creator-focussed product studio in Ampersand.

I’m 100% happy and comfortable selling Tolta to Bobby and Nick and know that they will do well with it.


It feels weird

This is my first time exiting from a project.

It feels weird.

And it wasn't an instant "yes" when Bobby first enquired about a sale. It took a few days of processing different outcomes before I could let go.

It's weird giving someone your hand-written code that only you have ever seen.

It's weird handing over your Twitter account, and then looking at it—and tweets you wrote—from the outside.

It's weird allowing a part of your daily thoughts and plans to die away.

In the end, though, I think it makes total sense.

a) I am a builder. Building is what I do best.

b) At Ampersand, Tolta will likely become bigger and more successful than I could have made it myself.

c) I've been well-rewarded for the time and effort I’ve put in to Tolta.

Overall, I'm very happy with the outcome and excited to see what happens when someone takes one of my ideas and runs with it (a new thing for me!).

I'm very proud of what I built as a product.

Nevertheless, I'm sad I won't be part of Tolta's future and that I can't execute some of my larger, exciting ideas for it.

Now I have some extra space in my week and brain, I plan on working on some new ideas, as well as keep growing ilo.

Keep building. Keep swinging.

For some builders, the acquisition money would be considered new runway. As I have a job, runway (luckily) isn’t something I ever think about. I’ll just be boosting savings and investments with it, nothing special.

Acquisition timeline:

Apr 19: Bobby DM'd about a sale
Apr 20: First offer from Bobby
Apr 22: First offer turned down
[Apr 24: Launched in-app analytics]
May 1: Second offer
[May 3: Launched Paddle counters]
May 4: I made a counter-offer, accepted by Bobby
May 5: Call with Bobby and Nick to talk through everything
May 6: Verbal agreement; I stopped development
May 7: Received a draft of the purchase agreement
[Agreement discussion and adjustments]
May 13: Signed the purchase agreement
May 17: Payment cleared, handover started

All the best to Bobby, Nick and team as they take on Tolta and make it something bigger than I probably dreamed of myself 🙌

Goodbye, Tolta ❤️

  1. 2

    So so happy to see this Dan, as I've been part of the journey on Twitter.

    Question: how much % of this would you attribute to building Tolta in public? 100%? 80%?

    Would it have happened at all if you wouldn't have been sharing transparently (respect for that!) all these things?

    Congrats and enjoy 🧡

    P.S: Wanna do an AmA on my subreddit (/r/SaaS) on this?

  2. 1

    Gratz. Finding a buyer before a customer, that's new to me.

  3. 1

    Thanks for sharing your story Dan! Super interesting to see something like this. It's also awesome that the people buying it's goals align with what your where building (I don't like to see acquisitions just to kill products).

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