The traditional way to buy or sell a small business is to tap your personal network of contacts or recruit the services of a business broker. But even a broker’s reach can be limited. An online marketplace, however, could connect a wide range of buyers and sellers from around that world.
That’s what Nunzio Presta is trying to create with BizON, an online community for people looking to buy or sell businesses and franchises. The company takes a cut of each transaction it facilitates. BizON isn’t the first marketplace of its kind, but Presta plans to stand out by offering a better user experience.
PROFITGuide: How did you decide to pursue this idea?
Nunzio Presta: A few years ago, I had a clothing line with a good friend of mine. We grew it up to a pretty nice size, but we didn’t have the resources or expertise to grow it further. I said, “Why don’t we try to sell it?” I went to business brokers, and they’re like, “We just deal with million dollar listings.”
What more do you offer compared to your online competition?
We pride ourselves on being a private and confidential marketplace. It’s a log-in community. The businesses and listings are not subject to public viewing, unless the member acknowledges they’re okay with that.
Another advantage is we have an analytic dashboards, so our members can track, manage, and analyze their listings or the businesses they’re interested in. And we provide business support, so our members can connect with lawyers, bankers, or any professional needed.
We’re servicing all segments—small businesses owners looking to sell, a franchisor looking to promote, or a business broker looking for a buyer for their listings. If you were to ask someone where to go to buy or sell a car online, they’d say Auto Trader. We want to be top-of-mind as well.
How much demand is there for something like this?
In the next five to seven years, 10.5 million baby boomers are planning to exit their businesses and retire. So we thought: Wow, that’s a good segment to service. Another trend we’re excited about is the increase in entrepreneurship as a whole. There are a lot of people looking for that opportunity to be their own boss, whether it’s starting from scratch, buying something existing, or becoming a franchise owner.
Baby boomers aren’t necessarily the most tech savvy generation. Will they use this?
Believe it or not, we have a lot of baby boomers who are actually engaging with the site. It’s going to be a big segment that we’ll focus on, and we need to get their eyes and ears on us. Part of the plan for that is an upcoming creative marketing campaign, and we’re not going to forget about traditional marketing. Digital marketing is very important, but you have to also understand your target market. So there’s going to be a balance to get these boomers to hear about us.
You’re most focused on Ontario today. What plans do you have to expand?
Our marketplace is open to all of Canada and the U.S., but we are Ontario-centric today. We definitely have plans to expand to countries like the U.S., the U.K., Japan, and Australia. They’re seeing similar trends as Canada in terms of boomers retiring.
What do you think of Presta’s plans for BizON? Share your (constructive) thoughts and feedback in the comments below.
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