You may remember our last chat with Blake Hutchison, where he shared some interesting market updates when it comes to buying and selling websites on the Flippa platform.
Well, I thought it was a good time to ask him back, as there have been some really exciting advancements that the Flippa team have been working on. And I think these updates will be exciting for all of you – whether you’re a beginner or advanced.
Flippa now has 1.5 million registered buyers on their platform. And so, to cater for this high demand, they have developed some tools, which we will discuss today, including:
- The new Flippa AI recommender engine
- The Flippa off-market matching service
- Flippa Invest (for higher net-worth sophisticated investors)
- The Flippa M&A platform (for 7, 8 and 9-figure deals)
All of these services mean there is an abundance of websites out there, which are now much easier for you to find the website of your dreams.
Whether you’re a beginner or advanced online, here’s how you can access thousands of websites on the Flippa platform – big or small!
Need help finding a website to buy on the Flippa platform? Blake Hutchison from Flippa shares some exciting new developments to help anyone (beginner or advanced) find their next website purchase…
Matt Raad: Hello again, everyone. Welcome to the Digital Investor Show. I’m your host, Matt Raad.
Today we have the CEO of Flippa, Blake Hutchison. Flippa is the world’s largest marketplace for buying and selling websites, from small websites up into the multimillion-dollar range, even up to tens of millions.
I’ve asked Blake to come along today and share a market update and some of the new tools Flippa has been creating to make it even easier to find really good websites to buy.
You now have a range of thousands and thousands of websites on the Flippa platform. I mention this because one of the common questions we get is, “I can’t find the good deals,” or, “How do I find the deals?” Well, that’s what Blake is going to help us answer today.
So Blake, thanks so much for coming along.
Blake Hutchison: Thank you, Matt. As always, it’s really good to see you again. I’m excited to communicate some of the updates that we’ve got over here.
Matt: Absolutely, because it is very impressive what you guys have created there at Flippa in terms of helping buyers find their dream website.
Blake Hutchison from Flippa shares his views on who is buying websites in 2023
Matt: But to start with, let’s take a step back to a bit of a market update. The last time we spoke to you, you talked about some new trends. And this is what you and I have just been discussing.
There’s a much bigger pool of buyers now. In particular, more prominent buyers are coming in looking for much bigger website deals.
Can you give us an update on where the market’s at now and the scope of the marketplace?
Blake: Yes, so as people know, Flippa is a marketplace to buy-and-sell online businesses, and that, by its very definition, means that there is a broad range. So, we are a true marketplace and price agnostic.
As you said, we can see smaller site stores and apps for sale and bigger websites for sale too.
The overall trend is that whilst that lower-value community is still thriving, a new generational buyer is entering this patch of dirt.
What that means is you have private equity-based buyers (i.e., funds), family offices, high net-worth individuals, and companies. And they are all looking for inorganic pathways to growth.
What they’re trying to do is find opportunities that either:
- Satisfies a theory, i.e., an ecosystem they are investing within or a category they are interested in and have the subject matter expertise around.
- Or they’re looking for bolt-ons, i.e., to complement other businesses they own with better, more assured pathways for growth.
Purchasing websites is an efficient way for existing businesses to acquire new customers
Blake: The reality is customer acquisition has always been expensive. But it’s actually become a little less accessible because there’s greater competition in the marketplace. As a function of broader macroeconomic challenges, acquiring a customer in a challenging consumer environment becomes more expensive.
But one way to get there is to buy a thriving, good-quality online business with a community, revenue, cash flow, viability, sustainability, and trade history.
So as a function of that, Flippa has certainly seen a new breed of buyer, and they’re coming in quickly. But the important thing to note is they have extraordinarily strong buying power, capability, and expertise in deal-making. This means that they expect a better quality deal, a higher value deal, and tools and features that help them find deals quickly and efficiently. They also expect advisory and support, which of course, we provide in spades.
Flippa’s entire premise is to democratize the exit and enable business ownership for everyone. We’re trying to build a platform and feature set that essentially mirrors the M&A process regardless of deal size and type.
What buyer type (and size) does the Flippa platform cater for?
Matt: There are people who have been in the Matt and Liz Raad community for a long time. We teach beginners, and particularly corporates who are exiting their full-time careers. And we do that by teaching them how to buy small starter sites on the Flippa platform.
Because it’s easy and much easier than what it was ten years ago. And most of the people reading this are in that beginner phase where they’re buying sites under $50,000.
The Flippa platform has traditionally been the number one place to go because there’s a level of safety, and it’s very well known for that. So, you have always been the biggest marketplace for that space.
But now, as we were talking about before, there are people out buying websites under $100,000. And then, is the next space up to $250,000?
Blake: Yes, $250,000 up to $1 million plus. And the reason is it’s a different type of buyer.
Now, a million-dollar-plus asset is quite varied in nature. Something obviously that is worth $1 million is very different to something worth $25 million. But at the end of the day, the process people undertake to buy those online businesses is quite common. They have the same search and discovery process.
Then there’s the analytical process, the negotiation process, and then finally, there’s the transfer and asset ownership process. So that process stands true regardless of size.
But yes, we tend to think about our business strategically within price buckets for one of a better description.
Blake shares some new exciting new tools available at Flippa to help you find your next website purchase
Matt: Over the last five years, Flippa has obviously grown, and you’ve just explained why it’s dramatically expanded. So, no matter who you are reading this, if you come onto the Flippa platform, you can find a business deal (or website asset) no matter your criteria.
Traditionally, Flippa has been known for those smaller website deals. But now it’s known for everything up to 9-figure deals. The marketplace has changed dramatically, and you have many bigger buyers now.
What are some of the newer tools you’ve created for bigger buyers? Actually, not just bigger buyers but every single buyer on the Flippa platform. Let’s look at some new tools (or website-buying services) you’ve developed recently.
Blake: One of the things that we live and die by is access, right?
Blake: So what that means is that regardless of the type of buyer, you should be able to find what you are looking for. Hence, we are a marketplace.
If you’ve got lots of assets, then there’s a paradox of choice going on. So, we have to get really good at pinpointing buyer matching and understanding who’s who and who is the right buyer for each asset.
So, the thing we’ve been working on most recently has been a substantial undertaking, but we’re very proud of the outcome. And the result is that we’ve built what is essentially the first AI-based recommender engine for M&A.
Matt: That’s great.
How Flippa built the first AI-based recommender engine for buying and selling websites
Blake: So, of course, there’s all this discussion about Chat GPT 4, which is clearly outstanding. But what we have done is we’ve used this enormous buy-side community we have, and we’ve tried to understand their hidden (or latent) intent.
The way that works is we’ve built what is essentially a graph neural network. You’re trying to understand the relationship between one buyer and what that buyer does and another buyer you perceive to be of a similar type (or have a similar intent or a similar buying behavioural budget etc.). Then you do the same on the sell side.
So, you look at all the assets, and you build relationships between those assets and try to understand their relationship with each other. That doesn’t just mean, “Hey, e-commerce fashion equals e-commerce fashion.” You could have a SaaS app for personal trainers, which is very similar to a content site about healthy food.
So, there are lots of ways you can build relationships between all of this, and only good quality machine learning and data science can do that. And what you end up getting is a recommender engine. That means you can effectively answer the question, “Who would buy my business?”
Why is the new AI recommender engine so powerful for sellers?
Blake: Matt, you’re an investor in online businesses. And sometimes, you will ask a prospective investee company (i.e., someone you might invest in), “Well, who would buy this company? What are your exit plans?” Let’s assume that all’s going swimmingly well in five years; who would buy this business? They give you all sorts of answers, and often it’s just Google, Facebook, and Amazon, but there are all sorts of things.
Blake: The reality is there is a good suite of buyers for every given asset, but you don’t necessarily know who they are. Now Flippa can pinpoint that and answer that question for you, and that’s proven to be extraordinarily powerful.
What we do now is put that tool within the fingertips of the selling community and say, “Here it is. Don’t wait for them to come to you. We will serve it up to you on a platter based on what we know is the hidden and latent intent. As a function of that, we let you invite and pitch to them directly.”
That is a new feature. It’s been live for about four weeks, and the initial reaction and data around that are really compelling. We’ve had 5,000 – 6,000 invites go out via email and text to buyers who have been matched and notified.
As a function of being notified, we’re getting an improvement in the number of active negotiations happening on the platform. We’ve seen a spike in the number of letters of intent issued on our platform. So, whilst it’s early days, it appears that the algorithm is working really well.
Matt: That’s awesome.
Blake: In fact, it’s learning. It’s getting smarter, and the matching engine is much higher quality.
Check out the new Flippa AI recommender tool if you’re looking to purchase a website over $25,000
Matt: That’s great to hear and congratulations. What size price deals have you first started running this system with?
Blake: Almost everything. It’s currently only available on everything over $25,000 ask. So that means it appears on $25 million listings and half-a-million-dollar listings, but it’s also available on $25,000 and $30,000 listings.
At the moment, it is not available on sub $25,000 deals.
Matt: So, for anyone reading this, if you’re looking at buying or selling a website at $25,000 or above, this is a fantastic new tool.
This really answers the question, “How can people access thousands of deals?” But sellers can now access thousands (or millions) of buyers at their fingertips. And this is AI-driven.
What’s the best method for using the AI Recommendation tool to buy a website on Flippa?
Matt: So how do people enact this? What do they do when they say, “It sounds great, but what do we do if we want to make this work?” If I’m an active buyer and want to spend six or seven figures on a website asset, what should I do to set that up?
Blake: At the moment, the best way to get access to the tool is to set up a buyer profile and make it as rich and accurate as possible, meaning:
- Picking the business model that is most interesting to you.
- Setting an acquisition budget.
- Picking and choosing the skills and the elements of that particular asset.
These are important elements when writing your buyer profile, which is accessible on the Flippa platform. When you check out your profile, you can complete that data. That’s currently the best way.
There’s a whole bunch of other use cases around it that we’re currently building, including instead of a seller having to invite you in, we will manufacture that matching for you and ensure you get access to them.
But in the meantime, yes, you have to complete your profile and wait for a seller to actively invite you.
What is the Flippa Buy-Side Origination Service?
How Flippa is meeting increased buyer demands by creating an off-market platform
Matt: Can we also look at the off-market and Flippa buy-side origination service?
Matt: Because that’s directly flowed on from this, hasn’t it?
Blake: That’s right. So, when you have this many buyers (clearly a large number of buyers), but you only have 6,000 on-market deals, you have to build services and propositions that satisfy your buying community’s demands.
What we know is that buyers have an insatiable appetite. They have dry powder regardless of the macroeconomic climate and want to make deals. If they can’t find something, we want to be the pathway they use to initiate their search.
The Flippa Off-Market platform allows you to access more potential website deals that are relevant for your business objective
Blake: So, we have built an off-market that has around about 60,000 assets within it today. And we’re getting richer and richer data on each of those assets as the business owners come and give us information about them. We also pull down sources of data with information about those assets.
You can use that to express interest and shortlist deals that make sense for you. The good thing about using this and shortlisting deals that make sense for you is we then amass that intent data.
Yes, we use a pro recommendation engine. But in addition to that, we take that intent data, give it to the business owner and say, “I know you are not currently for sale, but we have six buyers who have expressed clear intent in assets like yours. Would you like to meet them?”
As a function of that, we not only have a matching engine for the on-market, but we have a matching engine for the off-market. Buyers really like that because they can now hunt without the support of a business development representative. They can actually hunt the things that make the most sense for them.
Matt: That’s great because one of our strategies is teaching our students to go out there and make private approaches to find great deals.
Flippa now has one of the world’s largest on-market and off-market databases of online businesses
Matt: To put into perspective just how big Flippa is (being the world’s largest marketplace for buying and selling websites), how many listings do you have on average?
Blake: It was around 6,000 on-market and 60,000 off-market. And that’s something we can continue to add to. So, you’ll expect that to be 100,000 within a short period of time.
Introducing Flippa’s Deal Origination Service
Blake: What might be interesting for people to learn about is that we’ve now launched a function of a deal origination service. So, you can essentially pay us to go and hunt for exactly what you want.
Matt: That’s perfect.
Blake: We have a global team who are taking on mandates from buyers worldwide, who have a very clear sense of what they want, but don’t see it. We’ll go out there and get it for them. That’s come as a direct result of people using our off-market and saying, “Grow this faster for us, please.”
Matt: Yes, and that just shows us how big this marketplace is, because only five years ago you weren’t contemplating these types of services. Now you’ve already implemented them and have 60,000 potential off-market listings.
Blake: That’s right.
Matt: Flippa will go out there and do the hard work for you. They are literally virtual door-knocking online businesses out there that aren’t even listed for sale yet. They’ll quietly approach them and say, “Hey, we might have some interest here. Do you want to match up?”
They are focusing on quality and liquidity in the online business marketplace
Matt: Now you’re basically a matching service, and that’s grown so dramatically.
Blake: Yes, we’re very confident that we can give buyers and sellers what they want regardless of business model category or price point. And that’s the art of being a good quality marketplace, where you can find liquidity within it regardless of size or shape.
Our value proposition ultimately becomes access, service and cost:
1. The world’s largest access, be it going after sellers or finding buyers.
2. The best service, we now have advisors operating on top of our platform all over the world in offices from Amsterdam, Austin, all the way down here to Melbourne.
3. And we do that at the lowest possible cost.
If you are a good quality business owner and you want to access the world’s largest buyer base and do that with the support of Flippa’s Advisory, then there’s no better place to get your business a good quality exit.
Matt: So, this is a win-win for buyers and obviously anyone thinking of selling, just think of the buyer base that Flippa is now reaching through this service.
Say I’ve got a PE firm (private equity) and $10 million to spend. It would be a no-brainer for me to sign up and update my profile. I would say something like, “I don’t just want access to what you’ve got listed, I’m specifically interested in content websites in the pet niche.”
“That’s what we want. We want to do a roll-up of any pet niche-related websites here in Australia. Happy to talk. Can you go and find us sites that maybe no one’s considered before?”
When should you use the Deal Origination Service?
Matt: How small are the sites that you would look at? I know it’s early days yet. But generally, is this service more for reasonably-sized websites?
Blake: Value is a really interesting thing to get your head around. We’ve met buyers who have signed up for our origination service who when we talk about revenue and profit, they’ve said, “Okay, that’s cool. I don’t care. I just want the largest possible community I can buy.”
“I don’t care whether it’s making money or not. What I want are eyes. So if you can show me a newsletter with 500,000 subscribers and a 35% open rate in the following categories, I couldn’t care less whether it’s making money or not.”
So, value was a really interesting challenge for a marketplace like ours. What we need to decipher and figure out is quality. Quality is sometimes a function of earnings. And in other cases, quality is a function of other things.
Matt: It’s interesting that your data can go that accurate.
It doesn’t matter what budget you’re at. For any buyer who’s looking to expand a particular business (even a brick-and-mortar business), they can buy online eyeballs. They can sign up for this service and say, “I want to buy a newsletter with a 20% open rate, and I don’t care whether it makes money. I just want the eyeballs. I’ve got a budget of $200,000. Can you guys go and find it?”
Why AI has played an important part in Flippa’s recent developments
Matt: I guess for you, as you make those approaches, it doesn’t matter what size the business is. It doesn’t even matter what the sale price is once this is up and running.
Blake: That’s why the AI is quite critical too. The origination service is obviously critical because you get to hear directly from the buyers and find out exactly what they want. They tell you on the phone and you go hunting for it. But the AI is really critical too.
For example, there’s an individual who paid millions of dollars for a marketplace. We found out they were looking for a supplements business, and our AI engine matched them up.
The interesting thing about the buying community is that sometimes what they say they want is different to what they end up buying. Only machine learning is quick enough and capable enough to pick that intent out.
Use the new off-market feature to find more deals if you are buying websites for under $50,000
Matt: So, for someone doing our course, who wants to transition out of their job, and they’re doing this as a side hustle to start. Can that service work for them as well? I guess they’re looking at buying sites under $50,000 or even under $20,000.
Blake: The off-market can work really well for them. The deal origination service at this stage is less likely, just because the monthly retainer required will keep our staff hunting hard for you.
Blake: The deal origination service is essentially where a business development representative works with you and will probably need a minimum of $1,000 a month. Right?
Matt: Yes, that makes sense.
Blake: So, the average smaller site store and app buyer may consider that quite cumbersome and burdensome. But they can use the off-market platform, and this platform is free.
So, query the off-market. Use the filters as you do for Flippa’s on-market. It is free and instantly accessible. As long as you have an account and can express interest, it will capture that interest. We’ll let the seller know, and the seller will come back and communicate with you accordingly.
So yes, it is accessible for anyone of any price point, so long as we’re talking about the off-market.
Matt: So, you no longer need to rely on one broker out there manually trying to find you the deals. If you’re looking for bigger deals, this is a service you want to pay attention to, particularly if you’ve got an established business and can see the benefit of expanding it by acquiring other websites.
How do you get started with the Deal Origination Service?
Matt: Is there an onboarding process? As you said with the supplements company, they thought they wanted one thing, but you guys would have the experience to say, “Well, have you considered this kind of a business as a bolt-on to it?”
Matt: Is there an onboarding process with a human? Or is this in the day and age where everything is in AI?
Blake: The origination service is absolutely very high touch. So that requires a minimum hour-and-a-half discovery call.
Blake: We document the mandate and send it back to you with:
- All of the expectations around what you are looking for (and what we think we heard you’re looking for)
- The approach we’re going to take with our check-in process.
- The absolute number of prospects that you can expect us to contact on your behalf.
- The way that we will present deal briefings to you.
- We’ll negotiate on your behalf and bring the asset to the market for you.
That is a very involved process. What we’re doing, though, is using our tech to ensure the process is highly efficient once we’ve taken on the mandate.
Matt: That’s the beauty of being the biggest in a marketplace. You’ve got the ability to roll this out, and it becomes this giant flywheel.
Blake: What some people don’t realize is brokers actually use Flippa’s platform to access our buying community. Buyers go everywhere, and I don’t dismiss that. Buyers just want great deal flow.
Blake: Everyone accepts that, and you’d be silly if you didn’t. But that’s not the point. It’s not about the buyers signing up everywhere. It’s your ability to retain the buyer, engage them, and capitalize on their understanding and interest in a particular asset. That’s all that matters.
So, we could say we have 500,000 buyers, and somebody else could say they have 500,000 buyers. Whilst I doubt that’s actually the case, it wouldn’t matter anyway because it’s less about the numbers and more about your capacity to match when the time is right.
How to buy a profitable website from Flippa – there are plenty of deals to choose from…
Matt: Perfect, that’s absolutely fantastic. I love the idea of those two tools available now to everyone using Flippa. Guys, you’ve heard it here. Some of you always say, “Oh, I can’t find enough deals.” There are at least 6,000 listings on Flippa at any time of the day. Plus, there’s now this added service where it’s already up to 60,000 in the off-market service.
Flippa can get out there and help you find deals, particularly if you’re looking to expand an existing business. So, I’d highly recommend you get in touch with the guys at Flippa, fill out your profile and use those services.
The amount of data that you can get now on the Flippa platform is also mind-blowing. And it’s all free. You can go in there and check it out. There is no risk whatsoever for you to just go and start looking over the listings. Get out there and have fun with it.
Blake, thank you so much for sharing that update today. And I can’t wait to get you back on again with some more market updates.
Blake: Matt, I swear I thought it was 60,000, but I’ve just checked. It’s now 74,000, so there are 74,000 assets in the off-market. So, go in there and have a look.
Matt: Alright! Yes, make sure you get out there and have a look at these because that’s a number you probably need help to conceptualize. If you can’t find a deal within 74,000 listings and are serious about buying websites, I think you’re getting a little bit too particular.
There are up to 74,000 opportunities for you guys to be buying websites. Get out there on the Flippa platform, and make sure you go and check it out.
Blake, thanks so much for coming along today.
Blake: Thank you, Matt.
Want to learn more about buying and selling websites for profit?
Matt: Awesome. Of course, if you’re just starting out on your journey and want to learn how to buy and sell websites, sign up for our free masterclass, where we go through the strategy of how we buy and sell websites.
It’s also applicable if you are in the seven and eight-figure range as well because it’s exactly the same strategy. The way that we do it works no matter what size website you’re looking at buying.
So go and check that one out as well at ebusinessinstitute.com.au/masterclass, and we’ll see you on the next episode of the Digital Investors Show.