These side projects were sold for millions

Updated: December 14th, 2022

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Below is a guest post from Alexis Grant, founder of They Got Acquired, a website that aims to redefine startup success by highlighting “small” exits, especially those by bootstrapped and underrepresented founders.

These side projects were sold for millions

While we focus on how people start successful businesses, it’s both fun and insightful to hear how those founders exit, too.

Most of us don’t have an exit in mind when we first launch a business. Instead, we want to find a way to earn an income doing something we enjoy.

But if you build a profitable business, you might find yourself approached by a buyer who wants to take it off your hands. Or maybe, several years in, you realize you’re keen to move onto a new project — and selling the company presents an opportunity to do that.

Most of the founders we feature on They Got Acquired sell because of the financial upside and/or they’re ready for a change. When another company is prepared to pay a fair price for what you’ve built, it can be a win-win. Of course, first you have to learn how a startup acquisition works, and that can be a learning curve in itself.

Here are three founders who shared with us how they launched and grew their business — and then went on to be acquired.

#1. This $1.5K/month side project was acquired for $1M+

When this developer shared his story with us in July 2020, his headline-writing SaaS was just a month or two old. He detailed how he made $16K in sales during the first 48 hours after launch, and the tactics and tools he used to grow the business. His launch strategy was brilliant, an absolute must read for any indie maker.

Fast-forward to 2021, and Headlime was sold for 7 figures, to, a SaaS startup that curates online content. The founder announced the deal in a tweet, and though the terms were not disclosed, he wrote in an Indie Hackers post that it was a 7-figure exit.

#2. This subscription box side hustle resulted in a $500K+ acquisition

Ryan and Lowell shared in 2021 that the CBD subscription box business they were running as a side hustle was bringing in $50K/month. Like all the entrepreneurs in the CBD space, their marketing options are limited so they had to get creative.

Just a few months later, Hemp Crate Co. was acquired for a mid-six figure sum, which they said was a .08x multiple of revenue. They had about 800 subscribers at sale, and zero employees. They found a buyer through their personal network.

#3. This $75K/mo app for podcasters was sold for mid-7 figures

A great example of what happens when an idea (1) is “simple”, (2) solves a problem, and (3) targets a niche. It blows up.

The tool had 80,000 users (6,000 paying customers) when they shared their story, including ESPN and BBC started using the tool. This translated into a $75K/month revenue.

About a year later, Wavve sold the business to Calm Capital for mid-7 figures. By then they were bringing in $150,000 MRR and had 12,000 paying customers, an extraordinary 100% YoY growth.


One final note: If you’re interested in learning more about how to sell your business, They Got Acquired offers a free report showcasing 21 companies that sold in 2021 for 6 or 7 figures.

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Quick hitters

(1) This founder helps people run better with a small piece of fabric. She has the knowledge both as an experienced cross-country runner and as a biomechanical engineer that has worked at Adidas R&D.

Sports are something people are very passionate about and tend to spend lots of money on. Hence it makes it a great space to launch a business. Check these case studies if you’re interested in this industry: this 12-year-old created a $100K athletic cup for boys, and this $12M/year net for four-way volleyball.

(2) This librarian turned a side hustle into a $6K/month business. Tired of performing repetitive tasks at work, used no-code tools to make his life easier. After that, he became the productivity go-to guy. Tips and suggestions led to small gigs, and after a while, he was landing deals worth thousands of dollars.  

The power of no-code tools is amazing, non-technical makers can launch tech businesses that would otherwise require developers. And don’t think they’re just for small projects, this tech talent platform reached $1.2M in a year, a smart ad creator also generates $1M+/year and this virtual community for indie founders grew to 2,000+ members.

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meet the author
David Bustos

Hey there! 👋 I'm David, and if you ever got an email from Starter Story, I probably wrote it. With a background in working with startups and writing, being part of this team is kind of a perfect fit for me.