After more than 7 years working in radio and podcasting at The Wall Street Journal, Mathew Passy was laid off. While figuring out his next steps, a few brands reached out for podcast consulting.
“I figured, why not?” he shared with Shoutout Arizona. “The number of clients just kept growing and growing until I realized that I could be doing this full time. I never imagined myself as an entrepreneur, but I am glad I went down this road.”
MPassy Productions, launched in 2015, would become The Podcast Consultant. Seven years later, doing more than $750,000 in annual revenue, Passy received a LinkedIn message from an interested buyer.
“My instant reaction was this is spam,” Passy told They Got Acquired.
How The Podcast Consultant grew to work with 200+ clients
Bootstrapped, The Podcast Consultant grew into a team of 24 contractors, with three working full time. The agency helped more than 100 podcasts edit and launch shows. It also provided consulting and coaching to more than 200 clients.
Passy credits The Podcast Consultant’s growth to word-of-mouth referrals.
“His show quickly blew up,” Passy explained on an episode of The Business Brew, also a client of The Podcast Consultant. “When guests, friends and fans said, ‘Man, I love your show. I want a podcast. How do you do that?’ [O’Shaughnessy] was kind enough to say, ‘Talk to Mathew.’”
Passy explained his biggest challenges were overcoming imposter syndrome and delegating responsibilities to help the company scale.
“I was very capable of saying ‘One little mistake, and we’re going to wind up on the streets,’” he said on The Business Brew. “It was very hard for me to let go.”
Passy said he faced his fears by making sure his contractors were committed. He often had new contractors work on internal shows first — as a trial. Once they proved they were capable of high-quality work, they moved to client work.
With time, happy contractors began referring new team members.
“Once we built a relationship with someone, we trusted their instincts,” Passy said. “They had shown that they care about the work, the clients and the company’s future, and it became a lot easier to trust them.”
A cold LinkedIn message leads to a high 6-figure sale
The story of how The Podcast Consultant sold starts out like many: Passy wasn’t looking to sell.
But he received a LinkedIn message from Karl Hughes, the CEO of Draft.dev. Hughes founded the niche content marketing agency in 2020 with partner Manuel Weiss and grew it to $2.5 million in revenue in two years, according to Hughes’ LinkedIn profile.
In a post on his site, Hughes explained they faced a crossroads — they were going to either sell Draft.dev or add to it through an acquisition. They settled on the latter and set parameters to narrow the playing field.
“We asked ourselves: What service do we think there will be more demand for in 10 years than there is today?” he wrote.
Opting out of working with a broker, Hughes began sending LinkedIn messages to other founders. That’s how he connected with Passy.
Once Passy realized the message wasn’t spam, he warmed to the idea of selling The Podcast Consultant. “I have been working very long hours for a long time, and the opportunity to get a break, reset and start something new on better footing appealed to me,” he told They Got Acquired.
Plus, Passy shared on Twitter he was excited for new energy and fresh ideas from the Draft.dev team, which has “a wealth of experience in digital marketing and they are dedicated to upholding the standards we have established.”
Passy continued in the Twitter thread: “Above all else, in the months I’ve been working with them on this deal, they’ve also exuded something that many of our clients discuss in their podcasts, the need for empathy. And if I didn’t believe this to be true about them, I would never have considered such a move.”
I have some very exciting news to share. I recently accepted an offer to sell The Podcast Consultant and closed on that deal last month.
Long thread coming…… pic.twitter.com/D7i8ofXO5s
— 🎙 Mathew Passy 🎙 (@MathewPassy) May 3, 2023
Selling The Podcast Consultant: ‘a tightrope to walk’
In October 2022, the two parties signed a letter of intent. Hughes was eager for the transaction to go through by early January, he wrote in his blog post. But, like many deals, due diligence took longer than expected.
During this time, Passy said the biggest challenge was running the business knowing a potential sale was on the horizon.
“There was a lot of waiting to find out if it was still happening,” he told They Got Acquired. “So do I make big changes before someone else takes over and create a jarring experience for clients? Do I not do anything but run the risk of the sale not going through? It was a tightrope to walk.”
The deal went through in April 2023 for high 6 figures, Hughes told us. According to his blog post, they paid 50% upfront at signing, 35% was to be held in escrow for six months and was contingent on Passy’s fulfillment of a part-time employer contract to help with the transition, and 15% will be paid over five years via a seller’s note at a fixed interest rate.
The Podcast Consultant will remain an independent company for the foreseeable future, Hughes said. Eventually, he plans to cross-sell services between the two companies, so they will feel more unified.
Passy’s advice to founders who are selling?
“Get your ducks in a row. Make sure your paperwork is tight, your systems are well documented and that you are emotionally ready for the roller coaster. I had to proceed most days as if it wasn’t going to happen so as to not fear that possibility.”
After Passy’s 6 months of consulting work with Draft.dev, he plans to take 2 to 3 months “to just relax and breathe,” he shared on Twitter.