Brian Casel has sold Restaurant Engine for a “low six figures” sum. His asking price was $185,000, according to FE International, the site he used as a broker. Restaurant Engine was a very early entrant as a hosted WordPress website provider — it launched in 2012 — with a focus on restaurant owners, as the name suggests.
I've mentioned Restaurant Engine on Post Status a few times, and it's always been a SaaS that I appreciated; I've followed Brian's efforts on Restaurant Engine and his others projects for years, and more so in recent years that he's been podcasting his journey on Bootstrapped Web.
The sale was structured as an upfront cash deal with an earn-out (additional payments over time based on performance). Brian wouldn't confirm if the negotiated deal was over or under his $185,000 asking price, but he does state that he had multiple offers.
He ended up choosing the buyer because it's, “someone who I felt comfortable handing the reigns over to who I felt confident would be successful with it, and I thought they had a good track record behind them.” He also notes the buyer has plans in place to keep improving Restaurant Engine. Brian isn't sharing the buyer's name with me yet, as he hasn't confirmed the buyer wants to be identified. I understand he's (Brian referred to the buyer as a male) not from the WordPress community directly, but is someone with a development background.
Brian talks about the sale in a recent episode of Bootstrapped Web (start around 32:00 for his portion, as his co-host also had news about raising money for his eCommerce startup). The details and challenges of the process were interesting to me, as well as Brian's description of using FE International as the broker.
Specifically, it seems it would've been an easier process if Brian has made Restaurant Engine its own independent business entity, versus being part of CasJam, LLC. I imagine this would be a challenge for a lot of WordPress and small businesses that may someday wish to sell their companies. Brian did an interview on the FE International blog about his experience as well.
Brian has worked hard to streamline and “productize” his business over the years. According to the FE International listing of Restaurant Engine, that resulted in a business that required about 15 hours of his time per month and generated over $53,000 of profit with gross revenues around $120,000. A number of contract employees that are staying on with the business with the new owner managed most of the day to day operations.
Included in the sale is Hotel Propeller, an offshoot of Restaurant Engine for the hotel niche, but it appears it is a fraction of the overall value as the Restaurant Engine brand was more successful.
To keep up with Brian's continued work as an entrepreneur, you can follow his blog at CasJam.com. It's bittersweet to see him sell Restaurant Engine, as I enjoyed following his journey running a SaaS using WordPress, but his new project — Audience Ops — seems to be going well, so I'm sure he'll have plenty more good stories to share in the future.