Episode Length: 44 minutes

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Like so many founders, Lauren Gaggioli had been heads down in her Higher Scores Test Prep business for so long, she didn’t realize how valuable it was.

She wanted to know: was this course business sellable?

In this episode, you’ll learn how Lauren leveraged her podcast and consistent passive income, SEO traffic, list size, and course offerings to exit for $180,000.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • [1:45]: The lightbulb moment that made Lauren realize she had a sellable business asset
  • [6:56]: How Lauren built her tutoring client list from scratch
  • [9:28]: Why Lauren knew she needed to switch the name of her business
  • [14:11]: How Higher Scores Test Prep navigated its churn challenge
  • [18:56]: The marketing pivot that changed Higher Scores Test Prep’s future
  • [23:54]: Why passive income wasn’t enough to keep Lauren running her business
  • [28:56]: The impetus that finally caused Lauren to sell Higher Scores Test Prep
  • [33:20]: What Lauren did to get the company ready for acquisition
  • [35:22]: How Lauren decided how much to sell her company for
  • [37:26]: The most important criteria Lauren looked for in an acquirer

Thanks, Lauren, for coming on the show! You can connect with her at LaurenGaggioli.com.

Thanks to our sponsor for this episode, Chicago Partners, a team of financial advisors who specialize in wealth management. Get their support at ChicagoPartnersLLC.com.

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How Lauren Gaggioli Sold Higher Scores Test Prep

Lauren Gaggioli didn’t give herself enough credit when it came to the education company she built, Higher Scores Test Prep. Even after growing the business to $60,000 in mostly passive revenue, it took her a while to realize it was big enough to sell.

“​​I never even thought about selling,” Gaggioli said on They Got Acquired podcast. “It’s so embarrassing, but I didn’t realize you could sell something like it.”

But by the time she sold the company in 2021, High Scores Test Prep had more than 7,500 email subscribers and 10,000 unique website visitors a month. Those readers relied on Gaggioli’s learning materials to prepare for the ACT and SAT exams.

Gaggioli never intended to create a career based on helping students prepare for college admissions exams. While trying to land roles as an actress after college, she needed a job she could do in the afternoon and evenings, and tutoring turned out to be afit. In 2014, the kids she tutored got such great results that she decided to leave the tutoring firm she was working for and start her own business.

But teaching in person and having to drive long distances to meet her students was more difficult than she expected. After a client’s dad suggested she start a Twitter account, she realized she could expand her reach by creating online courses.

And then Gaggioli started podcasting. Her podcast, The College Checklist, was one of the first podcasts about college admissions, and it became a key marketing strategy that helped her pivot her company. She invited college admission and financial aid experts onto her platform, giving them the opportunity to talk about their business and join her affiliate program, whereby they could share her courses with their networks and earn a commission.

“That really ended up being the thing that grew my listenership for sure, grew the company for sure and then grew their businesses as well,” she said.

How Gaggioli sold her online course business

But by 2016, she was burnt out. While she loved helping students, she didn’t always agree with the opaqueness of the college admissions testing world.

Still, it didn’t feel right to shut down the business when it was bringing in revenue on just a few hours of work each week. Then a friend suggested Gaggioli consider selling the business. Until then, she hadn’t even realized that was an option.

Once Gaggioli decided to sell, it happened quickly. She made a list of three people she thought might be interested in buying the business, contacts within the industry. The second person she reached out to, Kat Clowes of March Consulting, ended up buying the company for $180,000.

Since selling the company, Gaggioli works as an online business coach and digital strategist.