April 13, 2024

[2024] 5 Best Marketplaces to Buy and Sell Online Businesses (including SaaS and micro-SaaS Startups)

If you’ve been thinking, “Where can I sell my SaaS business?” this article is for you. And if you’re searching for businesses on sale, you’re not left out.

Real quick, you can sell a software company or any digital asset on an online startup marketplace like Microns.io or a website broker like FE International. Not only can you sell your SaaS startup, you can buy one (or as many as you can build!).

Before now, the traditional business acquisition sales process usually took months or years to close. Now online marketplaces have made it possible for founders, developers, creators, and entrepreneurs to sell and buy businesses hassle-freely and in speed time - cutting the long-winded sales processes to just under a few hours or days. 

What’s more? Entrepreneurs can securely buy or sell pre-vetted software companies and many other online businesses like ecommerce stores or mobile apps.

Let’s get into the top marketplaces and the kinds of online businesses you can buy and/or sell there.

Factors to Consider when Choosing An Online Marketplace

There are tons of online marketplaces to buy and sell a business, but this article only lists 5 based on the following criteria. 

  • Secure transactions: A good marketplace will provide some sort of escrow service like escrow.com for the secure transfer of funds. While this is good, there have been complaints about many of these services; speed, transactions taking months to process rather than days, limited number of payment methods, and lack of support. We fixed these with our secure transfer service called Transfer by Microns to ensure buyer and seller safety.
  • Due diligence: Online purchases are rife with fraud which could include scam listings. The best marketplaces will make an effort to protect the members of its platform.
  • Cost: If you’re selling a small business, you’ll want to steer clear of platforms that charge hefty fees and commissions.
  • Support: The best marketplaces offer various forms of support ranging from business valuation to due diligence and the secure closure of the deal. Some may even offer broker services, but these come at a cost. 
  • Ease of use: Any serious business will prioritize its customers’ experience, so if the site is neat and easy to navigate, you may be on a legitimate platform.

Now no marketplace is perfect, so it may be difficult to get all of these from one platform. But find and stick with one that ticks most of the boxes.

READ: Top Micro-SaaS Ideas

5 Best Marketplaces to Buy and Sell SaaS Startups and Online Businesses in 2024

To be clear, this isn’t a list of SaaS app marketplaces like the Shopify Appstore, Salesforce AppExchange, or Google Workspace Marketplace for buying software to integrate with your products. 

Now that’s out of the way, let’s dive into the top 5 marketplaces for online business acquisition. 

1. Microns.io

Microns

Not to sound biased, Microns.io is one of the best startup marketplaces for buying and selling an online business: micro-SaaS companies, marketplaces, mobile apps, and web apps, and software. It isn’t because I’m the founder, but because we facilitated the sale of 40 online businesses in 2023 alone worth $185,000!

Source: Twitter

We're known as the home of buying and selling pre-vetted small online businesses. Developers, marketers, creators, designers, and even non-technical founders trust us to provide them with the tools and services to aid the seamless acquisition of their online businesses.

What online businesses can you buy/sell on Microns.io?

Unlike Acquire where the average acquisition costs more than $500,000, Microns is the best place for micro-acquisitions: facilitating the sale and/or purchase of businesses online from as low as $200 up to $500,000. Hence, we’re the go-to shop for buyers with small budgets and sellers who want to close a deal quickly.

While a vast majority of the listings on our marketplace are micro-SaaS startups, you can find a wide range of other pre-vetted online businesses; e-commerce, newsletters, Shopify apps, communities, marketplaces, agencies, Chrome extensions, mobile apps, WP plugins, Google add-ons, content websites, blogs, directories, databases.

Our listings page provides key data such as ARR, expenses, growth opportunity, target audience, number of customers, and many more. 

Top Features

  • Best for buying/selling small businesses: We facilitated the sale of 40 online businesses in 2023. So if you're a buyer looking to acquire a high-potential startup, Microns provides you with all the tools to make this possible.
  • Pre-vetted micro startups: One issue with online purchases is getting scammed. For this reason, I and my team go through the pain of vetting every listing on our platform to protect our users. We ensure the traffic/revenue metrics are accurate and do scam verification while ensuring the asking price tallies with the market’s going rate so everyone gets a good deal. Although you still need to do your due diligence.
  • Hand picks: I have a newsletter where I carefully curate and send the best/hottest listings to premium subscribers. As a premium buyer, you’ll be the first to know about new listings published on our website.
  • Borderless and secure transactions: Interested in buying or selling a business outside your country, Microns is not restricted by location. You can buy SaaS businesses worldwide. For this reason, we launched Transfer by Microns, an escrow service for the fast and secure exchange of funds to protect both buyers and sellers.

Cons 

  • Doesn’t support large acquisitions over $500,000.
  • Doesn’t support the sale of pre-revenue business.

If you’re starting your entrepreneurial journey with a small business or want to add another business to your portfolio, search for high-quality listings using Microns Premium.

READ: Microns vs Tiny Acquisitions

2. Flippa

Flippa

Flippa was founded in 2009, making it one of the most popular startup marketplaces. Over the years, the Australian-based company has built a community of over 1.5 million verified buyers and sellers.

The marketplace provides high-quality service to aid seamless online business acquisitions for both buyers and sellers. Of all the marketplaces on this list, Flippa has the largest number of businesses on sale.

What online businesses can you buy/sell on Flippa?

Flippa has a directory of over 5,000 online SaaS companies for sale. They also facilitate the sale of brick-and-mortar businesses.

The business categories listed on Flippa are not limited to ecommerce brands, SaaS startups, content (blogs and newsletters), websites, service-based businesses, domains, and dropshipping stores. 

You can search for hundreds of online businesses based on location, type, age, category, niche, and price. To streamline the buying process and time, you can search for ecommerce stores through dedicated categories like Shopify and Amazon FBA stores.

Flippa also allows sellers to integrate Google Analytics with their ecommerce stores so prospective buyers can get insights like website traffic and sales metrics.

Top Features

  • Due Diligence Report: This report gives business owners access to detailed analysis to make informed purchase decisions. The paid service contains competitor, seller, financial, industry, risk assessment, pricing, and traffic analysis.
  • Flippa Finder: This is also a paid concierge service where first-time buyers get exclusive professional information and 1:1 consultation about business acquisition.
  • Valuation Tool: Flippa’s free valuation tool allows you to determine your company’s worth.
  • Guidant Financial: This is a financing service in partnership with Guidant Official where small businesses can get access to SBA loans and 401(k) financing solutions.

Flippa charges their sellers a listing fee and a 5-10% commission based on the size of the business. It's a great place for website flipping and offline businesses.

Cons

  • Doesn’t do thorough due diligence.
  • Charges a service fee and sale commission.

READ: Microns vs Flippa

3. FE International

FE International

While the other platforms are marketplaces for buying and selling mostly businesses, FE International is a bit different. They’re brokers who provide advisory services to investors looking to sell or buy online businesses.

The team of brokers pool their expertise in providing investors with personalized sales processes. Their sales success rate is an impressive 94.1%, making them one of the best platforms for big business acquisition.

What online businesses can you buy/sell on FE International?

FE International has been around since 2010 and has sold over 1,200 businesses. They provide M&A advisory services to entrepreneurs interested in buying SaaS, Shopify apps, ecommerce, and content businesses, primarily tech businesses.

Top Features

  • Personalized sales process: Unlike most other marketplaces where sellers get matched with interested buyers, FE International tries to understand the businesses listed on its platform and gets accurate data about them. Afterward, they contact their network of buyers with a detailed report to find the best fit.
  • International coverage: FE International has offices in New York, San Francisco, London, and Hong Kong and a network of over 50,000 pre-qualified investors.
  • Private listing: You can list your online business in their private marketplace to attract the interest of only serious buyers.

Cons

  • Supports only the sale of large businesses.
  • You can’t contact the founder of a business you’re interested in.
  • Charges a fee and commission.

If you’re interested in buying/selling 7- and 8-figure businesses (even as a non-technical founder) with the expertise of a broker, FE International is a good choice.

4. Empire Flippers

Empire Flippers

Empire Flippers is one of the oldest online business marketplaces on this list. They’ve been around since 2013 and have closed deals up to the tune of $450 million.

The platform is a bit different from the other marketplaces on this list in that it’s a blend of both a marketplace and a brokerage as sellers get dedicated brokerage support. Also, buyers can rest assured that the listings have been vetted to determine if the business’s financials, customer data, and traffic are accurate.

What online businesses can you buy on Empire Flippers?

Some of the online businesses for sale on Empire Flippers are SaaS and other software companies and tools, ecommerce stores, Amazon FBA, Amazon KDP, affiliate products, display advertising, etc.

Top Features

  • Solid due diligence: Empire Flippers does thorough vetting of the businesses listed on its platform. They check the correctness of financial reports, traffic, and company legitimacy. They also get detailed and satisfactory seller reports.
  • Network of high-networth investors: The marketplace only features profitable businesses which usually cost around $100,000 (and above). So you can rest assured that the platform has mostly serious, high-networth buyers.
  • Brokerage service: If you want to benefit from a good brokerage service, you may want to do business on Empire Flippers. They can support you from listing the business to finding its worth and closing the deal. Buyers can also get support with transferring the business’ assets.

Cons

  • Features high-value businesses which usually cost hundreds to millions of dollars.
  • Buyers with small budgets may not be able to compete with whales (larger investors).
  • They charge a commission on every sale.

If you’re looking for bigger deals with added brokerage support for your mega-acquisition deal, try Empire Flippers.

READ: Microns vs Empire Flippers

5. Acquire

Acquire - marketplace for buying and selling SaaS and online businesses

Acquire

At the time of writing, Acquire (formerly MicroAcquire) has facilitated $500 million in acquisitions, mostly in the sale of software companies. While you can buy other online businesses on the platform, most of their listings are 7- figure SaaS startups.

They pride themselves as the best marketplace to kickstart acquisition conversations to buy/sell an online business within 30 days. Buyers can assess key metrics of listings before deciding to speak with a seller. Some of the metrics buyers are privy to include customer acquisition cost, number of customers, recurring revenue per month, and many other metrics.

What online businesses can you buy/sell on Acquire?

MicroAcquire's marketplace isn’t restricted to only SaaS startups. You can also buy/sell ecommerce brands, newsletters, Shopify SaaS apps, agencies, and communities.

Top Features

  • Valuation tool: Acquire’s valuation calculator helps you determine what your company’s worth is. Check out our in-depth guide on how to evaluate a micro-SaaS startup.
  • Advisor directory: You can get access to advisors to help you with legal, accounting, negotiations, valuations, escrow, and M&A services. Think of it like Upwork but for acquisition advisors.
  • Available in all countries: Acquire claims to have facilitated closed deals in every continent (except Antarctica. of course).

Cons

  •  They charge a commission from sellers and subscription fees from buyers
  • They were found purposefully underestimating some projects’ valuations
  • Little support (although they have a platform to find professionals to support you in your acquisition journey).

Acquire started as a platform for the acquisition of small startups (<$500k) but then grew into a platform for large deals ($500k+). 

Reilly Chase reported a scam on Twitter (not perpetuated by Acquire, though). So always do your due diligence.

READ: Microns vs Acquire

What are the benefits of buying or selling a business in an online marketplace?

  • A lot of the hard work has been done for you. You don’t need to hire a development team, draw a launch strategy, set up systems like logistics, suppliers, etc., and in some cases, find your first customers. The founder has already done these for you.
  • Rather than starting an idea that may not be profitable, acquire an established business with growth potential.
  • Streamlines the buying/selling process and makes acquisition conversations shorter.
  • Minimizes marketing costs and efforts for sellers as the marketplace brings your startup before its community of (sometimes, verified) buyers.
  • Easily get investors as the business has a history or signs of profitability and growth.
  • Entrepreneurs can buy businesses regardless of location and without having to travel.
  • A plethora of data to encourage buyers’ purchasing decisions.
  • The option to compare businesses to determine the best fit and prices.
  • Safer and smoother transactions as the processes are more transparent and secure.

READ: The expectations vs reality of building a startup

What are the disadvantages of buying/selling an online business in a marketplace?

  • While buying an online business in a marketplace may be an affordable and good investment, sometimes, it could be more expensive than building one from scratch.
  • If you’re a first-time buyer, acquiring an online business may be risky as you may not have the capacity or skill to grow a business venture.
  • Changing an established business’s mode of operation may not be as easy as you think.
  • For sellers, unless your startup is highly profitable or aligns with a buyer’s interest, your business is up against the competition in the marketplace.

READ: How to buy a startup

What to look out for when buying an online business?

Despite having good numbers, some businesses may not be the best fit for you. Here are some tips to consider when buying an online business:

  • Conduct proper due diligence: To avoid buying an unprofitable micro-SaaS company, consider its operational costs, number of customers, annual recurring revenue (ARR), profit margin, churn rate, and P&L statements. Make sure the financial statement is consistent. 
  • Pricing model: SaaS pricing models typically range from multiple-tiered to flat pricing models. A good pricing model can minimize your churn rate and maximize value for users. So understand the startup’s pricing model and find ways to improve upon it.
  • Customer acquisition channels: When acquiring a SaaS business, look for one that gets a lot of customers from organic, direct, and social media traffic. These businesses are easier to sustain and more likely to increase your bottom line than those relying heavily on paid traffic. Also, check out its ROAS to ensure you can keep up with the company’s marketing budget.
  • Room for scalability: You’ve got a potentially profitable SaaS business if you can find creative ways to offer new services or features, acquire new customers, and enter new markets. To reduce your risk level, research the competitors and ensure there’s room to capture a larger portion of the market.
  • Underlying technology: Typically, you want to buy a startup with a technology infrastructure that you or your team are conversant with or is robust enough to deliver the quality of service you plan to execute.

Factors to consider before selling a SaaS or micro-SaaS startup

Before listing your SaaS or micro-SaaS business on a marketplace, you can value the startup using EBITDA or Seller Discretionary Earnings (SDE). And ensure you have accurate data and key metrics to encourage buyers to see your business as a profitable one.

What Kinds of Online Businesses Can You Buy or Sell?

Online business models are a great alternative to building brick-and-mortar businesses. The most common online businesses sold and bought on marketplaces are SaaS and micro-SaaS startups, e-commerce stores, content websites, and mobile apps.

SaaS and micro-SaaS Startups

SaaS business for sale

Louis Gomes: SaaS and Micro-SaaS Startup

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and micro-SaaS companies are some of the most profitable and easy-to-run online businesses as they're managed in the cloud. They’re sold as subscription services to customers, making them scalable and easy to sell.

SaaS and micro-SaaS products range from analytics, AI, content writing, marketing tools, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), bookkeeping software, etc. 

E-commerce Stores

eCommerce business for sale

Karolina Grabowska: eCommerce

The coronavirus pandemic accelerated the rate at which people shop online. It’s been predicted that 95% of all purchases will be via eCommerce stores by 2040.

So owning an ecommerce store is a big thing and is expected to grow 23% year on year. So before you buy an eCommerce business, consider the following factors;

  • Operating costs
  • Cost of goods sold
  • Annual revenue
  • Order fulfillment
  • Distributors
  • Suppliers
  • Brand awareness
  • Ecommerce platform used
  • Organic traffic

Also, look for channels to increase the brand’s revenue. And do your due diligence and speak to experts before acquiring an eCommerce store.

And if you’re looking to sell your eCommerce business, make your website more visually appealing and improve the website’s traffic and CTR. Also, try to increase the sales channels.

Content websites and blogs

Blogger creating content

Plann: Content website

Brian Lam started The Wirecutter, a gadgets review site, and made over $150 million in revenue running it for 5 years before selling it to the New York Times for $30 million.

Also, Ryan Robinson makes around $40,000 every month – most of that earning comes from affiliate commissions. And every day, bloggers are monetizing their websites in different ways. These make content websites some of the most lucrative online businesses to buy and sell.

However, before buying a website on a marketplace, ensure you do your due diligence. Get access to metrics such as website traffic, traffic sources, bounce rate, conversion rate, etc. Also, know how many bloggers are on the team and how well the website is positioned to influence readers’ purchasing decisions. Furthermore, ask the blog owners to prove their monetization claims. And find ways to improve the website’s traffic to gain more visibility and generate more income.

And if you’re selling a blog, you should first evaluate your blog’s worth. Consider the cost of content and website development, cost per visit, website traffic, and annual revenue.

READ: How to evaluate newsletters' worth

Wrapping up

Now you know the best places to buy and sell online businesses, Microns.io gives you the resources to easily sell and buy profitable micro startups like micro-SaaS apps, ecommerce websites, blogs, web or mobile apps, etc., within a couple of days.

So are you looking to sell or buy profitable businesses? Sign up for our free weekly newsletter today.

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