The buyer subscription plan is designed to support the way that you search. Create unlimited sets of acquisition criteria and see an unlimited number of matches per search. Save connections you like and learn more, as well as manage a CRM-style list of your top opportunities.
A match is a connection, personalized for you, based on your search. Our proprietary technology analyzes your acquisition criteria to provide you with the most accurate matches based on available opportunities. Right now, a match can be a deal or a sell-side advisor connection, and in the future we will be adding more match types.
The platform is structured to save you the time spent sorting through potential deals and intermediaries so that you’re able to connect with opportunities that fit your criteria faster and more efficiently (with less scrolling and sorting) than if you were using another platform.
We use the term “search” broadly at Private Market Labs. For us, a search is any process to acquire a small business, whether you’re a single-acquisition self-funded buyer planning to use 100% SBA and seller financing, a private equity firm making a $25M cash acquisition, or anything in-between.
A search consists of criteria: your target financial information (enterprise value/price, measures of cash flow and profitability like EBITDA or SDE, and revenue), your target location, and your written description of the business you’d like to buy. Rather than using “industries” like other platforms, Private Market Labs takes a more precise approach, analyzing what exact business you’d like to purchase without forcing you to use industry filters.
You can create unlimited searches, no matter what plan you use! You can create unlimited searches – we’ve developed a structure that incentivizes experimentation with both broad and granular search criteria
There are several best practices that will help you get the best possible matches for your search criteria.
1) Be descriptive – add as much detail as you can as much as you can about the business you want to buy. So, “HVAC business” is good, but “commercial HVAC business with enterprise contracts” is better.
2) Avoid marketing language in the description – there are some terms that consistently appear in the search world: “profitable”, “recurring revenue”, “longstanding”, “successful”, “industry-agnostic” etc. While these are all important facets of a small business acquisition, they don’t describe what the business does. Instead of using marketing language, spend a few more words discussing your target businesses’ customers, service models, or equipment.
3) Use multiple searches (they’re unlimited) – most people searching for a business have a few different kinds of businesses they would find interesting. Rather than putting all of these business types in a single search, create separate searches for each. That will allow us to give you better results for each separate set of criteria. A good principle to follow: if your search spans multiple traditional industries or business models, those are different searches. For example, a search description that reads “home services businesses such as HVAC, electrician services, construction, and landscaping” should be broken into 4 searches.
4) Be iterative – it will be tempting to allocate all of your monthly matches up front to the first search you create. Instead of doing this, use small numbers of matches first to gauge how well-constructed your search is when it comes to meeting your criteria. If the first 5-10 matches for a search don’t look great, try creating a new one with a slightly different description.
5) Avoid conflict – you’ll have opportunities to add descriptions for the business you want as well as businesses you’d like to exclude from your matches. When entering exclusions, avoid words that directly conflict with target descriptions, since that will lead to suboptimal results. For example, if you’re looking for a software company, but not a software development agency, don’t put the word software in both the description and exclusions field. In this case, a solution would have “software” in the description and “agency” in the exclusions field.
Once you decide you like a match, you’ll be able to both message the intermediary on an interesting deal, message a broker directly (without an associated deal), pass on a match, or report a deal/advisor. Messaging a deal or intermediary is a key indication of interest and the message in the popup that appears will end up in the inbox of the broker in question.
If you see a deal that is not relevant, you should click Pass. That does a few important things:
We’re using this feedback to make our models perform better for you in the future.
The “Report” button exists in case there’s an issue with a deal or intermediary on the platform. Issues may include things like:
We take reports very seriously and will use the information provided to determine whether matches need to be returned to a buyer or whether a user needs to be removed from the platform.
The buyer profile is important because it allows you to share additional information about your search and background with brokers. When you message an intermediary, your profile information is automatically included, and will be sent to the broker unless you choose to delete the profile link from your message. Intermediaries are often looking for the buyer that is likely to be the best fit for the business and seller. Use the profile to share more information about yourself from the start, giving you an edge versus other buyers.
In addition to the profile, we have an optional financial disclosure section that allows you to provide an overview of your financial situation prior to communicating with the broker. In many cases, brokers will request this information from buyers before they speak to the seller, and occasionally before they see a CIM. Please do not add confidential account information to this section.
This is the initial buyer’s reporting of your financial position and will likely need to be confirmed during due diligence. The goal of this section is to present yourself as a serious buyer with a clear financial strategy (which can include SBA loans – include your lender letters of support as well). This will also help you stand out versus the field when reaching out to brokers.
Please see this article that discusses brokers’ requests for financial information in detail.
When creating a search, you can choose to only be matched strictly with your criteria by checking a box at the top of the screen. This means we will not show you any deal that does not fit your guardrails, thus limiting the number of results you will see.
A few important details:
1) Selecting this box will naturally result in fewer matches. In fact, you will almost certainly not get the number of matches you request when you use the strict search checkbox. However, only the matches you receive will be deducted from your total. We encourage you to try different searches to obtain the best results.
2) At this point, selecting the checkbox means that all matches will fit each of your criteria. If you’re strict on some criteria and more flexible on others, try broadening your search terms a bit on the more flexible elements to increase the number of matches received (for example, allowing for more financial flexibility by selecting more ranges for financial metrics). More flexibility around this point, including the ability to identify specific factors as strict, is coming soon!
3) Within the financial criteria specifically, the system will consider a strict fit for any individual metric type (i.e. cashflow, EBITDA, enterprise value, etc.) to be a match. This means that if you include both enterprise value targets and EBITDA targets, for example, you may get deals that fit one target, but not the other.
4) With particularly specific searches, using this box increases the chance that you’ll see a deal more than once within your matches. This is because deals are sometimes listed slightly differently on different sites. While we have advanced filtering techniques at our disposal, if you wind up finding a duplicate, please use the “Report Deal” function, and we’ll refund you the match.
Our goal is for Private Market Labs to be the easiest platform for intermediaries to manage their deals. There are three ways to do this:
1) Direct upload: Click “Add Deal” to manually share the details of your deal. This function works best if the deal has not been posted elsewhere online.
2) PML upload: if a deal has been posted somewhere else online, it’s highly likely that we already have it in your system, no data entry or maintenance needed. If there are deals you’ve posted online but don’t see on your profile, email us at email@example.com
3) Establish a data feed: we can also pull deals directly from your internal systems via API. This is a good option for larger firms managing numerous deals and will help make sure we have everything you’d like to share with potential buyers. To set up a conversation about API feeds, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any changes you make to a deal that is already on the platform will supersede anything we’ve pulled from elsewhere on the internet.
Deals that are currently for sale should be marked as “Active”. When a deal goes under LOI, it should be marked as “Pending” and the status should be changed to “Sold” once the transaction is complete and the deal is no longer available. “Archive” is a status designed to allow you to take a deal offline, even if it’s not under LOI or hasn’t been sold.
Only Active deals will be matched with buyers. While we will continuously update our data feeds for deals that we’ve pulled from an API or from elsewhere online, intermediaries are responsible for updating their direct upload deals.
If you have a profile on your website or another online platform, it’s likely we already have some information about you and your firm. Click “My Information” at the top to input and edit information about your work and your firm.
Any updates you make to your profile will supersede anything we’ve pulled from elsewhere on the internet.
You’ll be able to see summary information for each of your deals on the dashboard. When a buyer is interested in one of your deals, they’ll message you and that message will be sent straight to your inbox. Buyer messages will usually include a link to their buyer profiles. The buyer profile will typically have important information that will help you qualify buyers for your deals efficiently, including their acquisition criteria, contact information, LinkedIn profile, and financial resources.