From Corporate IT to Entrepreneur: How This Founder Built and Sold a SaaS Business

After 26 years in the corporate world, Randy Spivey realized he was an entrepreneur inside a company. He decided to venture out from underneath the “blanket of security,” as he calls it, to do his own thing. And he realized he’d found his calling, helping people implement their ideas into something tangible. This was the start of his journey to founding a SaaS business.

Spivey uses his IT expertise to help analyze the commercial viability and marketability of a product and then looks at the cost to implement. This central pivot in his career has paid off. Spivey recently exited his SaaS business through FE International and shares how he built the business and why he decided to sell.

How Bradley Software Became a Successful SaaS Business  

Bradley Software, which Spivey co-founded, is an established SaaS business in the family law software niche. The business shows impressive revenue growth with a sticky customer base.

Spivey came about the idea for Bradley Software when he connected with a lawyer who wanted to distribute documents to fellow lawyers but needed the software to monetize the process effectively. Spivey took the idea and developed it. “We looked at how many clients he had at that point. Then we developed the software, and we put it out there. It was a landslide,” Spivey says when word got out. “It was amazing how people were like, ‘oh my gosh, we don’t have to do this by hand anymore. It takes us three or four hours to do. And now I can do it in five minutes.'”

The initial success was Spivey’s tipping point in deciding to jump fully into the entrepreneurial world and leave his corporate job. His dream of having more flexibility and not having a boss was finally a reality.

Have you wondered how exactly to utilize the SaaS business model to generate revenue from a tool you created? Learn more about How SaaS Companies Make Money and the SaaS Business Model.

On Deciding to Sell Bradley Software

Bradley Software had grown a considerable customer base, a testament to the great product they had built, and Spivey wanted the business to continue because of its loyal customer base. Spivey’s business partner expressed that he wanted to retire; Spivey himself, looking to retire soon, decided to get the company ready for sale. A few years later, they made the first step in the exit process; finding the right advisor to work with.

Learn more about the steps you can take now to make your business ready for an exit, with our SaaS Exit Planning Overview.

How Do you Find the Right Advisor?

A Kansas City local, Spivey decided to look for a business broker close to home. “What we found was that these people don’t understand the business of software. They looked at the software company as a brick-and-mortar business, and that’s how they would value it.”

Spivey felt the brokers he spoke to didn’t understand the business and that the potential in a software company has more to do with the value than it does in a brick-and-mortar business. He decided to search online, where he found several SaaS business brokers. He finally reached out to an M&A Advisor and was pleasantly surprised by the response. “I contacted FE International, and within minutes I got an email back from the company’s CEO saying, ‘hey, we’re interested, let’s talk.’ That impressed me – how quick they wanted to start that relationship,” Spivey says.

“I was delighted that they had a very well-defined process, and as we started going through that process, I was very pleased with the kinds of questions they asked. They didn’t just look at the financials, although that’s a big part. They started asking questions about who we are and what we wanted out of the sale of a company too. FE wanted to know what kind of companies we were looking at from a sales standpoint. We were very impressed with everybody from top to bottom in that company.”

Read our extensive guide on SaaS Business Valuations to learn more about how we value a SaaS business.

Tips to Succeed as an Entrepreneur in the SaaS Space

As a serial entrepreneur, having built and sold three companies, Spivey believes there were several reasons for his success.

  1. Put your heart and soul into the company – “I put myself out there, and I decided to take a risk. As an entrepreneur, the risk is something you have to understand. In the SaaS space, you might develop something that may fail, or you may have to change it in order to make it scalable completely. You have to be ok with the risk and put your heart and soul into the company.”
  2. Delegate, don’t abdicate – “I read a book a long time ago that talked about what it takes to be an entrepreneur. One of the most important things I learned about trying to scale a business was a concept called ‘delegate, don’t abdicate.’ It means finding people that are good at what they do and giving them the responsibility to do that. But don’t abdicate your responsibility to go back to them and say, ‘are you doing what I want you to do?’ We hired consultants and marketing firms, but we were still very involved in what they were doing.

Retired, but still learning

What’s next for Spivey? Although he could comfortably retire, he’s not quite there yet. “I’ve been going at 180 miles an hour, and I want to slow down,” Spivey says. But that doesn’t mean he’s walking away from IT. “To me, one of my vows has been, I’m going to be 95 years old, and I’m going to still know how to use my iPhone.” He thinks that it’s hard for most in the IT industry to walk away entirely. “I’m really passionate about understanding the new technologies out there, so I have a bucket list of technologies that I want to learn about and take classes on.”

“I’m about ready to retire, but so what? That doesn’t mean my brain will stop learning things, so I’m going to continue learning, but I will slow down a little bit.”

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