He Turned Down a Bigger Offer From Another Investor. The Result Was 6x Revenue Growth


DOUG JONES WAS just two years into his first startup when he got a cold call from Kevin Prokop, co-founder and managing partner of Detroit-based private equity firm Rockbridge Growth Equity. Jones’s content marketing company, Abuv Media, helped online universities identify prospective students, and its more than 50 percent year-over-year growth since it was launched in 2012 had caught Prokop’s attention.

Rockbridge had begun as the private equity investment arm of Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert’s family office. Eventually, it grew to raise investment capital from institutional investors. Though Gilbert was well-known for owning the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers–and his at-times contentious relationship with LeBron James–the Rockbridge investment team kept a lower profile.

Or as Jones puts it: “I had no idea who they were.”

That changed after members of the Rockbridge team flew to San Francisco, where Abuv Media was based, to meet with Jones and his co-founder, Dan Schuessler. In 2014, Rockbridge acquired a majority stake in the company alongside the PE firm Falcon Investment Advisors. Though Jones and Schuessler had received a slightly larger offer from another investment firm, they had developed a stronger relationship with the Rockbridge team. “We said, ‘Let’s go with whom we trust the most and what our gut says is the right thing for us strategically for the next few years,’ ” Jones says.

It helped that Rockbridge offers its portfolio company founders access to a network of more than 100 businesses from the Quicken Loans family of companies. “Having so many partner companies that were able to drop some knowledge and best practices in the world of digital media was really valuable,” Jones says, noting how he and Schuessler learned from Rockbridge to focus on just a handful of the key performance indicators they had been looking at. “As an entrepreneur, you like to say yes to a lot of things. They helped us say no.”

Rockbridge also helped land top talent, helping Abuv recruit marketing and content executive Lydia Poon and data scientist Doug Milnes. Poon would go on to lead the company’s largest team, while Milnes managed all the client relationships and helped turn Abuv Media from an affiliate business into a marketplace for students.

“When you go direct in that business, it just drives up the valuation of your company,” Jones says.

Despite owning a majority stake in the business, Rockbridge and Falcon never seized control of Abuv’s strategy. While some private equity firms have a reputation for trampling the line between helpful and meddlesome, Rockbridge says it focuses on backing healthy, growing companies and keeping founders in leadership positions.

“There is a balance in terms of finding ways to be supportive while understanding that the reason the business has been successful is because you’ve got talented entrepreneurs like Doug and Dan with their hands on the wheel,” says Prokop. “Our job as a PE firm is to bring additional perspectives and additional expertise to bear, but to let them do what’s made them so successful.”

It’s worked. In 2016, Abuv Media claimed the No. 178 spot on the Inc. 5000 after having grown revenue by 2,071 percent over a three-year period. Two years later, after increasing annual revenue sixfold under Rockbridge’s ownership, Jones and Schuessler sold the company to HigherEducation.com for an undisclosed sum. The pair stayed on for a year before spinning off a personal finance education site that they’d started at Abuv Media called MoneyGeek.

Rockbridge has a stake in MoneyGeek, and some of the firm’s partners have personal investments in the company. Annual revenue is up 30 times year-over-year, according to Jones, who says the upside for MoneyGeek is even greater than for Abuv Media. “We’re off and running on this one,” he says.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the company, MoneyGeek.

EXPLORE MORE Founder-Friendly Investors COMPANIESRectangle

From the October 2021 issue of Inc. Magazine



Source link

xandoblogs

An open minded personality.. fun to be with, because of my positive vibes. God fearing, for without God I am nothing.. Moved with compassion when dealing with you, not selfish or self-centered...

5 thoughts on “He Turned Down a Bigger Offer From Another Investor. The Result Was 6x Revenue Growth

  • October 15, 2021 at 3:40 pm
    Permalink

    Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It really useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you helped me.

    Reply
  • October 15, 2021 at 4:15 pm
    Permalink

    Thanks for your post. I would like to opinion that the first thing you will need to conduct is determine if you really need credit restoration. To do that you will need to get your hands on a duplicate of your credit score. That should never be difficult, since government necessitates that you are allowed to obtain one free copy of your actual credit report each year. You just have to inquire the right people. You can either read the website for your Federal Trade Commission and also contact one of the main credit agencies right away.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2021 at 1:17 am
    Permalink

    I have been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Studying this info So i抦 glad to convey that I’ve a very just right uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I most definitely will make sure to do not overlook this website and give it a glance regularly.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2021 at 6:16 am
    Permalink

    My spouse and i were absolutely happy when Jordan could carry out his studies through your precious recommendations he was given from your weblog. It’s not at all simplistic just to continually be freely giving hints which usually other folks might have been trying to sell. And now we realize we have got the website owner to be grateful to because of that. The entire illustrations you made, the straightforward website menu, the relationships you give support to foster – it is many fabulous, and it is letting our son and the family consider that the theme is satisfying, and that’s extraordinarily essential. Thanks for everything!

    Reply
  • October 24, 2021 at 2:06 am
    Permalink

    Thanks for your article on the vacation industry. I would also like contribute that if you are a senior thinking of traveling, its absolutely crucial that you buy traveling insurance for elderly people. When traveling, retirees are at greatest risk of having a health-related emergency. Obtaining right insurance policy package for the age group can safeguard your health and give you peace of mind.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)