Season 11 Episode 1
January 30, 2023

[STEP BY STEP] How Do I Architect my Business for a Dream Exit?

We’re in Season 11 of Step by Step and this season, we’re focusing on architecting your business for a dream exit. We’ve partnered with OpenStore to bring you stories from real founders who have successfully built and sold their businesses and will equip you with the tools you need to confidently sell your own business. In this episode, we welcome Jeremy Wood, Co-Founder of OpenStore to discuss OpenStore’s approach to negotiating and buying businesses and what entrepreneurs need to know when thinking through an exit. Listen now!

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In this episode:

  • 0:07:38 - How to explore objective metrics for business valuation
  • 0:10:12 - Discussion on the commonalities of profitable eCommerce businesses
  • 0:13:48 - How to build Shopify stores and build for an exit
  • 0:19:09 - eCommerce, drop shipping, and OpenStore's differentiators
  • 0:23:29 - The importance of simplicity and transparency in eCommerce transactions
  • 0:25:17 - The role of timing an eCommerce business exit
  • 0:34:11 - Explore the OpenStore acquisition process
  • 0:38:05 - How to maximize the valuation for your dream exit

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Brian: [00:00:46] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by FutureCommerce, presented by OpenStore. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:00:50] And I'm Phillip, and this is Season 11, Brian, of Step by Step. And of course, this is our intro episode of Season 11 where we're going to ask the big thorny question: How do you architect your business to maximize the valuation for your dream exit? We're going to sell some businesses. We're going to give people the confidence that they need in this season of Step by Step, Brian, to sell their company.

Brian: [00:01:17] Yeah, I mean, starting a business is a huge step and some of our audience has already made that plunge. Some of y'all might be considering how and when to get that started, but starting is really just the first step along that journey. And the question is, do you have a plan for exit?

Phillip: [00:01:37] I think a lot of people don't even have a plan for starting, never mind an exit.

Brian: [00:01:40] Yes. As you start to think about building your own business or if you have one, you're thinking about selling it, if you don't have a plan, that's okay. Many don't. If you do, that's great. I think the point is you're going to have to consider potential outcomes. And so in this series, you're going to hear stories of entrepreneurs who have found themselves at this crossroads and decided to sell and have found a way to do that in a really smart way.

Phillip: [00:02:10] And this is a five-part series. So this whole week, Monday through Friday, we're going to teach you through the voice of other people, through people who have been down this path before, how to architect your dream exit. And who's this podcast for? Well, maybe you're a founder, you have an eCommerce store and you sell primarily online through that eCommerce store. This is for you. Maybe you're on Shopify and you're wondering what's next for you in the growth of your business. Or maybe you think that dream exits are only for sexy brands that the echo chamber on Twitter talks about endlessly? Maybe we can dispel some of the myths. This series is for you. And no matter the stage of growth that you're in or where your brand is at on your journey, you can learn something from the four founders that we have coming up that are going to tell you how they did it step by step. We are kicking off this season of Step by Step with the venerable Jeremy Wood. Jeremy is the Co-Founder of OpenStore and is going to help us talk a little bit about how eCommerce brands, founders, and their operators can take the next step in the progression of the growth of their online brand by selling their store. Welcome to the show, Jeremy.

Jeremy: [00:03:25] Excited to be here. Thanks, guys.

Phillip: [00:03:27] Yeah, I'll tell you one thing that we are really pumped about in doing this series with OpenStore is talking about the end of one chapter in the story of growth in eCommerce because what we're often doing is we're talking about the beginning. You get the Seed stage announcement, you get the Series A announcement, you get the high growth PR stint, but you rarely get someone just after their exit in their journey. And the thing that's really impressed upon me is how many founders who sell to OpenStore will willingly come on for no compensation. They get nothing out of it and come and talk a little bit about their experience and that says a lot about, I think, the experience that they've had. Tell us a little bit in your own words, Jeremy, about the solution that OpenStore is bringing to the ecosystem.

Jeremy: [00:04:23] Yeah, I mean, I think that's a great intro. At the end of the day, our value prop to merchants is really simple, it's we're going to provide a really easy, reliable fast exit opportunity for you and for the people who decide that they're ready to take that. A) We want to be there when they need it, and B) That should be a very positive experience. The entire process is so fast. We're giving merchants offers within 24 hours of them first coming to our site and connecting data. And then if they accept, it's usually under two weeks before they have cash in hand. And this is a massive amount of cash as compensation for their entire business. And so I'm actually not surprised by that reaction. We've heard a lot of similar stuff on our end because it should be a really emotional thing. It should be a really gratifying thing. It should be a life-changing watershed moment, especially after what is usually a build-up of having to think about, "Am I ready to sell my business and where would I want to sell it?" That's not an easy decision when you've usually poured a lot of your lifeblood and definitely sweat and tears into it over a couple of years.

Brian: [00:05:33] And that's so consistent with what we're about to hear in this series. You're going to hear about people being like, "I tried to sell my business looking around at different options," they had people like suck them in and take them on a ride and then not even come back with any kind of offer, come back with like a sales pitch. And so I think that the speed and the simplicity of getting an offer and the seriousness with which you come, it's like you plug things in, you fill out the website, you plug things in and boom, there's an offer in your inbox if you're fit.

Phillip: [00:06:13] Well, how? My question is, how does that work?

Brian: [00:06:14] Yes. How? How do you do this? We've heard all these amazing stories that our audience is about to hear and I'm always like, "Oh my gosh, is this too good to be true?"

Jeremy: [00:06:25] I'll get into how in a second. But actually, I like the first part of what you talked about because when we first started the business, I was blown away by how awful the brokerage experience was for merchants. We were talking with merchants as they were coming off of chatting with brokers and had exactly the experience you just mentioned. They would be kind of drawn through these coals given fake offers and then suddenly those were reneged on. And that's where I think a lot of our early focus was: How do we make this as fast as possible? We've been trying to offer the 24 hours basically since the day we began and a lot of the effort in us building the company was making sure that we could actually follow through on that and then that we were doing this all day enough to the point where for us, we're not getting this side commission because we're negotiating a transaction for some other random buyer. We're ultimately the buyer. And if we're wasting our own time and we're wasting your time, that's just negative/negative on all sides. So for us, it was about we need to make sure, A) We can do this really fast so people know whether they have an offer really soon and then B) We don't want to be going back on anything. We don't want to be wasting anyone's time. As to how we're doing that... Again, it was about, well, how do we follow through on that? We need to find objective ways to make this possible, which is where a lot of what happens on our side is taking the data that's connected, taking things like sales data, PnL, running that through our machine that we've refined over time to figure out exactly how much we think this business is worth. And then afterward it's up to us and our challenge to figure out, okay, if we do buy that business now, how do we actually run it at everything that we think it's worth? But our first promise was always to the sellers that we're going to try and use objective metrics to figure out exactly how much we think this business is valued.

Brian: [00:08:21] And that's the part that kind of boggles my mind because it's, especially talking to some of these businesses, they've been built in relatively short amounts of time. And five, three, two years, two years...

Phillip: [00:08:36] Two years I heard, yeah.

Brian: [00:08:37] ...before you purchase. That's incredible to be able to go build and sell a business in two years. And so there's a lot of things that go into building a business. I don't know if you can give away any of your secret sauce, but what are some of those objective things you're looking at where you're like, "That's actually really important to us?" Do they have a consistent supplier for their product? Does that matter to you?

Jeremy: [00:09:08] {laughter} There's absolutely some of is this business something that's going to be sustainable for the future, but frankly, by the time people have been running a business for even two years, they've usually figured out a lot of those kinks themselves. And most of the people we're talking to are on a range from they kind of fell into this. They were excited about something. They started building around it, they started selling it, and suddenly, wow, they woke up two years later and the business had really taken off and they were no longer as focused on innovation as they wanted to be. And then in other cases, we have die-hard entrepreneurs who want to do this again and again and again and again. But I think in both cases, people end up trying to find ways to make their lives easier running these businesses. And that usually fits pretty well with our pattern. So we do have some bars that people have to pass. We're usually looking for businesses that are older than 12 months that have at least 500K in gross sales over those 12 months and a minimum of 5% EBITDA margins and also usually primarily US customer base. But beyond that, there's not a whole lot required for us to feel comfortable with the signals that we're able to pull from the data shares that people are doing.

Phillip: [00:10:23] I mean, what we will hear in the builders' and the founders' own words over the next four episodes beyond this one is exactly that story. And one of the things that's been impressed upon me is sort of the commonalities that they have across the four of them and how they have found ways to operate profitable businesses. And operating profitable businesses means operating efficiently and having lean teams. It also looks like they haven't fallen prey to a lot of the traps we see in eCommerce, which is diminishing margins through overuse of technology or over implementation of things like marketing and tactical implementations of things like in the Shopify ecosystem. Most of them tend to do a lot of really strategic acquiring of traffic that's looking for a specific product at a fair price, converts it, and re-converts it in the future. And they do that in a very lean way. What other commonalities could you maybe cherry pick that would be the kind of business? Because in my mind it's not businesses that get all the acclaim and accolade and are talked about endlessly on Twitter. These are fairly... It's the long tail of eCommerce that's meeting the long tail of needs and the long tail of search.

Jeremy: [00:11:51] Yeah. These are homegrown and definitely bootstrapped businesses. And I think to exactly your point, one of the beauties of bootstrapping is you're pretty lean about where you deploy resources. You're not going to go out and work with ten or 20 different tools or companies because you don't have time to manage those relationships. You don't want to manage those relationships. You're not looking for an extra 0.5% on your revenue. You're looking for what is the way that I'm going to be able to successfully sell to my customers. And I think that's one of the defining features. People really do view it as, "These are my customers. I might not actually be one of those people, but I really understand those people." So [00:12:33] we actually have some sellers that are definitely not selling to their own demographic, but that doesn't mean they don't deeply understand the demographic that they're selling to. And that's probably the most defining feature because again, if you're bootstrapping, you're not going to be able to do that successfully unless you know who you're selling to and you're selling something new. [00:12:52]

Phillip: [00:12:53] Well, so that's I guess a really interesting point. Now, I'm pretty self-aware. Brian, you know this, if I'm listening to this show, I'm like, "Wow, these guys are really excited about this thing. This must be a big sales pitch. And I guess to some degree maybe it sort of is. But I also think that we're in an inflection point in the world of eCommerce as we come into maturity where there are millions of Shopify stores and a lot of them are really great at building and maybe not so invested in the operational growth in the long term position of having to operate a store in perpetuity. And so we're at a place in the market right now where more options for exit are necessary. And this comes up every so often. But people have amazing skills. Maybe a great builder is not necessarily a great operator, and that's sort of a unicorn skill set. And so this isn't necessarily a critique on people who build Shopify stores and then building for exit. I think [00:13:55] building for exit is what a lot of industries do. Construction is a great example. I don't know that a lot of people build their own office building and then work out of it. You hire... There are discrete roles and strengths and we play to those strengths. I think it shows a tremendous amount of maturity in our ecosystem not only that the need exists, but now solutions are popping up like OpenStore. [00:14:19]

Jeremy: [00:14:19] Yeah, honestly, I think I wish these solutions had existed a while ago. I think for a while there was this shadow industry of brokers that just dominated the market and were absolutely terrible experiences for Shopify merchants. I honestly wish that a company like OpenStore had come along sooner, which is part of why I'm here today trying to build OpenStore. I do think it shows a maturity. I really like the example of construction. I think unlike construction, there's not a clear cut point where you should transition over, and I think you kind of referenced this, but I actually want to double click into it or refine it a little bit further. Oftentimes they're really good at what they're doing, and it's not a lack of skills. It is a "This is taking way more of my time. I am losing sleep. I want to be doing other things or I want to go back to that earlier phase of finding a product that I'm passionate about, finding ways to get it from 0 to 1 to a point where I have built my customer base," as opposed to spending all of your time maintaining a customer base and then trying to find that little bit of extra growth while also having to manage logistics, unexpected events, unexpected supplier disruption, supplier changes, etc.

Brian: [00:16:46] And yeah, from the stories I heard, I think that was absolutely true. Whether they intended to sell the business to start or they sort of realized it was time to sell sort of the same outcome because at some point you have to make a decision to sell something. And so I feel like you sort of outlined it well. It was a lot of now is the time for me to go focus on something else that I'm good at or something else that I'm doing. That was a really common story.

Phillip: [00:17:13] What an interesting shift in the way that we think culturally about the nature of work. And so we see ourselves, Jeremy, a little bit more philosophical about how commerce connects people. I really, truly believe that [00:17:29] commerce facilitates human connection. And we all have to engage in it whether we like it or not, so examining how commerce impacts people on both sides of a transaction is worth taking a little bit of a philosophical beat around. [00:17:47] So one of the ways I look at this is I come from a generation of entrepreneurs. I'm a fourth generation entrepreneur. My mom was a third generation baker, and she grew up in a bakery. I grew up in a bakery. I don't know that people... We've had this cultural shift. I don't know that people grow up in eCommerce, even though my daughter has said, "I want to grow up and found an eCommerce store and be a podcaster. Thanks, Dad." I don't know that that's actually how we work anymore culturally. And so I'd love to... I know this is a little waxing poetic, but I'd love to get a little bit of a perspective from you about what that means for us to sort of move in, we're in a brave new world where we're creating specifically with the intent to exit. Is that something that we should that's noteworthy or novel? And then maybe on the back side of that, we could even touch on the fact that, you know, I think there's a lot of critique that's leveled against that and kind of written off as well, it's drop shippers doing their thing. And they don't necessarily meet the broad needs of a marketplace. They're finding and skimming sort of the cream off the top and that's about it. Are those valid critiques, do you think, or is that sort of being reductionist?

Jeremy: [00:19:15] I mean, I think there were a lot of things packed in there, so I'll kind of try and move backwards through it.

Phillip: [00:19:21] Sorry.

Jeremy: [00:19:21] Briefly touching on the drop shipping, I think it's both. I mean, I think it is reductionist by virtue of being reductionist, there's some truth in it. There's absolutely some truth in that. But it is not addressing the entirety of eCommerce. Drop shipping itself is in some ways just an efficiency change. I'm thinking back to many, many, many years ago when I was first learning about the term drop shipping even. It was like, okay, this is not nearly as different as people seem to think it is. It's an efficiency gain in how exactly you ship products around the globe and manage inventory. There are absolutely some critiques of quality. There are some critiques of how much effort goes into curating those products, how well you actually know your market, and your ability to spin up fads, spin down fads. But at the same time, I think of it as just one part of the puzzle. I want to go all the way back then. It's funny how those connected to each other, but all the way back to commerce as connecting individuals. And I think there's another side to that, which is that commerce is part of defining identity. You talked about growing up in a bakery. That's both a connection to customers, and it's also you just talked about that as your childhood. That is part of who you are, that is part of who your family was. And I think there's also a lot of the flipside you see more and more in eCommerce as the proliferation of online stores that wouldn't be able to exist if they had to cater to a specific geography. So if I was just selling what I wanted to sell inside of a major city... Well, let's go lower. Let's go to like a mid-sized city or a small city. It'd be really hard for me to find customers for a lot of niche products. That barrier has gone away as eCommerce has grown. And I think as a result of that, you're finding people can actually pick and choose what they want to purchase, what kind of merchants they want to engage with, and that is going to more and more become a definition of how people think about themselves. And then, yes, the merchants facilitating that are obviously a critical part of that equation. In the same way, again, going back to a bakery, you kind of have a definition of self, a definition of customer, and a definition of the interchange between.

Brian: [00:21:52] Hmm, I'm all in on that. I wrote a whole article about how commerce is identity exchange, and I firmly believe that you're right. It is tied to our self-view and who we are as people. And with that, I can imagine purchasing someone's business is a very, very personal identity exchange. And you've built something. We talked about how there didn't use to be a good way to exit. It kind of felt really kind of shady in some to some degree to exit. Now there's a lot more transparency and there are a number of different sort of roll up opportunities out there or acquirers. What are some of the markers that differentiate you from some of the other rollups or new models that we've seen? I definitely heard speed is one of them. Another thing that I think we're going to hear as we listen to this series is that you don't necessarily require your founders to stick around. There's a very clear, clear, and expedient path to fully exiting the business. And that was another thing that that I think as we listen to these stories came up as a theme, as a part of why OpenStore was the ultimate exit of choice for them. So I'm curious if that's, you know, what are some of the other things you see that sets you apart and maybe why people have picked you as their exit partner?

Jeremy: [00:23:29] I mean, look, we want to be really simple. We want to be easy and we want to be transparent. I think that's kind of what it comes down to. You're not trying to push an offer on people. You're trying to be there for when people are wanting to move on and sell their business. Because to your point, it is a very emotional decision. This is something that they've poured a lot of effort into, a lot of time into, and choosing to sell it is a big change in their life. So at the same time, we want it to be a very clear change. We don't want this, "What do you imagine doing afterwards?" "Well, we need you to stay part-time involved in the business. We need you to negotiate all these other various transactions. We need you to manage the relationship with the supplier." We don't want them to have to do any of that. We want a very clear line that when you're ready and when you say you want to move on and a lot of them go back to building other businesses, they want to go back to that early stage, we will completely take this over and then give you the cash that comes with it so it doesn't feel like this is you moving off of this thing that you spent all this time with and letting it die, which is, I think, something you don't see this same corollary in the brick and mortar world. And we can come back in a second. But that itself, that simplicity, that clear definition, I think has been very appealing to merchants over time. And then back on the brick and mortar, it's not an opportunity that used to exist. I talk with a number of people, not as much with merchants because merchants really understand eCommerce, but let's say average family member I go and chat with about what is eCommerce and what are the kinds of stores that we're interfacing with, and how they relate to it. Whether or not this is accurate, it's a very different question. How they relate to it is thinking about brick and mortar stores. They're kind of mom and pop shops on the corner where when those owners decide they want to move on and do something else, there's not really an option and they don't usually want to be involved in it afterwards. They don't want to be thinking about, "Okay, I need to apportion 50% of my time away to maintain this thing that is really I want to put in my past." And that seems to ring really true for at least people I talk with outside of eCommerce and I think has a good corollary to everyone we've talked with inside of eCommerce.

Phillip: [00:25:52] I mean, it's such an interesting time that we're in right now. I know we're as of this moment of recording, which is January of 2023, there's a lot of uncertainty about which way the market swings. And I have to believe that there is a demand curve around uncertainty and business exits. And I'm curious. We've talked a bit about some of the markers internally around business valuation and things that a founder can do to try to maximize their valuation because I think that's what every founder is wanting to do, especially if they're looking to sell. What are some things that you might say around macro timing of an exit? I'm sure it's your job to say that right now is the best time to exit. It's never going to be a time like right now, but without having to give any sort of economic directional advice, what is the advice to a founder who might be trying to time the market, so to speak?

Jeremy: [00:27:02] Yeah, that's a good question. I'm going to push back on what I think my first instinct to say and then I'll follow up on that is whenever they're comfortable, whenever they're ready to sell, we're there as a potential purchaser. And again, we'll give offers very quickly. It's easy for people to just go through that process and see what it would be at different times. So another way to view that is merchants can keep coming back, merchants can go through it with us once, they can decide that's not what they're wanting to sell at, they can come back at a later date. It definitely might not go up as an offer. I think if you're looking at macroeconomic trends, one of the benefits for us is we're a portfolio. So it's easier for us to manage risk. If it's looking like a really scary time ahead for a particular merchant, it's probably a good time to think about whether you want to be going through that risky time period. So it's more about managing your own risk than about maximizing your offer to us because our goal is there shouldn't be any fluctuations, say, with holidays. We are looking at an entire year, and we're not going to give you a 2x offer because you come to us after Black Friday versus in Q1 or Q2 or Q3. So really it comes down to a merchant's own appetite for when they want to sell, how they want to manage their own risk, whether they're afraid of the market going down because that is going to affect the value of their business. And generally, I think we encourage people to just come back, try it out. And if they don't like it, wait a little while, come back again. That said, I think the advice for every business out there in the world for how to maximize your value is just at least in terms of offer, is turn your store into a really profitable store. Make it more profitable.

Phillip: [00:28:59] That's been the theme of 2022. I guess 2023 is yet to be written. The theme of the back half of 2022 coming into this year has been the shift away from growth as the mindset into profitability as the mindset. So as the tide is sort of turned and people are sort of getting a little bit, trying to figure out where the next phase of growth is going to come from, they're also balancing profitability in exchange for profitable growth. And I think profitable growth can be a bit of an oxymoron. So we're seeing a little bit of hesitation and a little bit of consternation on the part of a business operator, of businesses of all sizes. This isn't unique to one style of business, but especially in eCommerce a lot of the truisms are no longer true. And so we're waiting for what the next truism is going to be so people can become... And I think a lot of that exists around traffic arbitrage and how do you grow your store? And part of growing the store is like knowing where to go, where the customers are. A lot of the narrative right now, Brian, seems to be around marketplaces, which doesn't grow your eCommerce business, doesn't grow your DTC channel, so it seems a little bit challenging of like, how do you sell that? So I guess my question to you, Jeremy, is let's say that somebody's decision point there, inflection point right now is "I can sell my store, I'm pure play DTC," or "For the next phase, I'm going to have to really think about diversification of channels so I can continue down the path of growth." What does that look like in a store valuation? How do you ascertain the valuation of buying a business in its entirety if they have other channel investments outside of their just direct eCommerce channel? And what are some of the considerations there? They're operating a little bit on Amazon potentially. Does that impact the way that you're looking at operating that business? Is that a non-starter?

Jeremy: [00:31:08] It's definitely not a non-starter. We tend not to give great offers if you're over like, say, 30%, I think on Amazon or at least 30% of your sales are through Amazon. Below that, and I think it's up to the merchant. Really that ends up being a decision that needs to be made for every business individually. It's hard to offer broad and general advice on that.

Phillip: [00:31:35] Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Brian. I feel like I was stepping on you there.

Brian: [00:31:39] No, no, no. I thought that was good. So macroeconomic conditions aside, looking at we've got a number of people who are listening to this that are in the midst of building businesses. As someone starts to think about an exit, what's some advice that you have that you can give to these entrepreneurs to start to prepare their businesses for an exit? What are a few things they should think through as they start to think about selling their business?

Jeremy: [00:32:14]  [00:32:14]I think one is don't take your foot off the gas. Businesses take a lot of effort to grow. And if you're coming to really anyone who's looking at buying your business, generally they're not going to want to see it slipping and steeply declining as you start thinking about moving on to the next thing. So I think it's always a decision that does have to be made relatively fast if you're thinking about just moving off of this business about whether you want to sell. Because generally the more time you spend away from it, the more time you spend not putting effort into it, the more that degrades. That's probably the biggest, biggest piece of advice is just keep doing what you're doing because there is so much hard work put into it to get it to that place in the first place. And usually, buyers are going to want to have a seamless hand-off of the baton. This isn't the baton that was dropped and was just laying on the track for a couple of hours and now we're wandering along to pick it up. This is an actual handoff. Most merchants, I think, get that because most merchants are really, really proud of what they've built and want to make sure that that transition is seamless. [00:33:31]

Phillip: [00:33:33] And I think that's a really great place for us to start talking a little bit about what to expect over the next four episodes. You know, having the opportunity to have already spoken with a number of founders, I know what is in store for our audience. And I think that we've done a really good job of summarizing a lot of the topics and the commonalities between them. I think the thing just to come back to one more time is how gracious all of them seem to be and how free giving of their time everyone has been in this process. They don't have to. And I think that speaks a lot about the experience that they've had in handing off their business, which is, in Brian's own words, sort of a function of their identity and a little bit of a representation of their time and something they've built. So I think that that says a lot. I think it's worth listening to.

Jeremy: [00:34:31] I think one of the most amazing fun parts about running OpenStore has been getting to interact with these merchants who are just really passionate about what they do and are really lovely individuals. And I hope that we reflect at least some part of that back at them during the acquisition process and we try and make sure that they have a fantastic experience. But honestly, some of that just comes from we're really passionate about what they're doing too, and it's a shared passion.

Phillip: [00:34:59] I don't know that we can wrap up the series or wrap up this particular podcast without touching on the thing that everyone's going to ask me why I didn't ask. You have a few Co-Founders at OpenStore. Keith tends to be in the news quite a bit. When people sort of synonymously talk about the OpenDoor model, Keith Rabois obviously a very prominent and notable figure, one of the most prolific investors and operators of all time, that's a person you go to work with every day, I presume. He tends to get a lot of the media attention and OpenDoor and OpenStore are often listed and sort of mentioned synonymously. I'll give you an opportunity to sort of talk a little bit about what that might be like from an operational perspective and how you as a Co-Founder deal with the fact that folks are sort of equating your business models when it seems like you're very obviously running something that's independent and has its own charter and has its own mission to accomplish.

Jeremy: [00:36:12] There's definitely some conflation. I definitely have a number of relatives who accidentally say OpenDoor instead of OpenStore. And from my perspective, I think the company's perspective, it's very much a no harm, no foul. They're in very different markets. I think one of the benefits is there have been some learnings, especially early on from growing OpenDoor. And we have Keith, also one of my Co-Founders, Matt Lanter, who was also at OpenDoor as well. And so there's definitely some infusion of knowledge over from that. In terms of actual time allocation, we tend not to have much more overlap. Keith is very passionate about OpenDoor, but is nowhere near as involved in that these days as he was in yesteryears. And contrast that with he's very, very, very, very, very much involved at OpenStore and constantly there, constantly driving it forward. He's the CEO. So I think that the on the surface there are some similarities. Once you get below the surface, there are very few similarities. One is a double-sided marketplace where they're buying homes and selling homes. For us, it is buying an eCommerce business and then we're there for the long term. We're there to hold on to them, grow them, and make them as successful as they possibly can be. That ends up being a very different business model. So in terms of business model, they're different. In terms of actual time, they're fairly separated from each other. We don't have people who are working on them equally. And then in terms of namespace, they sound very similar. I completely forgive anyone who says one instead of the other. I myself did it for a little while, so in that case, no harm, no foul.

Phillip: [00:37:56] I think the Spotify/Shopify conundrum will be a much more egregious mistake these days.

Brian: [00:38:05] Jeremy, before we wrap up, I just wanted to ask you, do you have any last pieces of advice or things for our listeners that might be interesting for them?

Jeremy: [00:38:14] Yeah, well, first of all, listen to all Future Commerce episodes. You guys have been absolutely fantastic. I really appreciate being here. But also for the listeners, we have a special offer, so there's a 10K additional bonus for anyone that ends up selling their store after receiving a price at Open.Store/FC for Future Commerce. It's just Open.Store/FC. Pretty simple. And really just we're excited about the community that you guys are building here. And as I mentioned earlier, we're really passionate in general about passionate merchants and I think you guys have curated an awesome community of exactly those.

Phillip: [00:38:54] Well, thank you so much.

Brian: [00:38:55] Yeah, that's exciting.

Phillip: [00:38:57] I can't see why you wouldn't take advantage of it if you're even thinking about it at this moment. {laughter} Thank you so much, Jeremy.

Jeremy: [00:39:04] Cheers.

Phillip: [00:39:06] Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Step By Step. You can find more episodes of this podcast and other seasons of Step by Step at And Brian, we've covered a lot over the years on Step by Step. What are some of the other topics that our listeners can dive into to learn a little bit more?

Brian: [00:39:26] You can learn about how to compete or not compete with Amazon. You can learn about funding for retail and commerce. You can learn about shipping and all the intricacies that come with shipping and the opportunities that come with shipping. You can learn about customer experience and how it's so different from customer service, and how to turn that into a revenue-generating center. It's so, so much more.

Phillip: [00:39:53] Oh my gosh, And this is the 11th season. If you're not on our mailing list, the best way to stay up to date with everything that we're doing is to go to and of course, visit OpenStore. We have a special offer for you in maximizing the valuation for your dream exit. If you were to sell your business through OpenStore, it takes just a couple of minutes to get a valuation and hey, maybe the next phase in the success of the growth of your business is to sell it to OpenStore. Hundreds of brands have done so, and maybe yours is the next one. Thank you to OpenStore for giving us their support and trust here on this 11th season of Step by Step.

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