Emilio Ousset-Paciulli just wanted a way to pay for law school.
But when he started his real estate photography company in 2016, with help from a realtor friend who gave him his first chance at photographing a listing, it grew quickly. Within about six months, Ousset-Paciulli had hired a second person to help share the workload. From there, he hired administrative staff, more photographers, and kept looking for ways to grow – while he was still in school.
The company stood out in the Quebec market where they were based by offering a full suite of up-to-date services for realtors, Ousset-Paciulli said. “In our market, most of the services that were available for our clientele were very traditional,” he said. For example, “I was one of the first companies to introduce drone photography [for real estate].”
Ousset-Paciulli grew his company, and his team, not only by hiring and expanding his offerings—he also acquired competitors, reinvesting the company’s revenue. His final acquisition was Agento Marketing—and in that case, he liked the brand enough that he kept the name and applied it to his full company.
Those acquisitions helped the company develop a commanding position in the local market in Gatineau, Quebec. “We almost had a monopoly at one point in our market,” he said. Most realtors in the area were working with his company, and he was also working as a preferred photography partner for Airbnb, photographing model homes for developers, and creating 3-D models and virtual tours for both realtors and developers.
Leading into the sale, the company had about 500 customers and photographed about 5,000 homes per year, Ousset-Paciulli said, with its team of 12 employees and two contractors.
How he pitched his ideal buyer, Urbanimmersive
In 2021, Ousset-Paciulli reached out to Urbanimmersive to suggest another acquisition—this time, with his company, Agento Marketing, as the target. (Our story on how to pitch your ideal buyer offers tips.) He had noticed that Urbanimmersive had acquired several other small photography companies, so he thought the acquisition might make sense for them.
From his perspective, Ousset-Paciulli felt the time was right to benefit from a couple of record-setting years in real estate. The company had grown enough that it would be much harder to continue to scale from that point. “We had a number in mind,” he said, “and after negotiating with [Urbanimmersive], we were able to reach a common ground with them, so we decided to just do it.”
Urbanimmersive acquired Agento Marketing for shares in the publicly traded company worth about $940,000, plus an earn-out up to $470,000, for a total of $1.4 million (CAD$1.2 million, plus an additional share-based earn-out worth up to CAD$600,000, for a total of CAD$1.8 million). The earn out was contingent on Agento meeting certain revenue growth milestones over the next 12 months, according to a press release.
Agento’s revenue over the 12 months leading up to the sale was $660,000 (CAD$840,000), according to the release. That means the company sold for a multiple of about 2.1x revenue (including the earn out).
As part of the December 2021 deal, Ousset-Paciulli’s business partners—leaders of the companies he acquired—stayed on with Urbanimmersive, but the company waived this requirement for Ousset-Paciulli, because they had quickly taken his core responsibilities of administrative services and business development in-house.
“Our acquisition process was very smooth because everything was in order,” Ousset-Paciulli said. “Keeping your books in order is a good starting point” for any entrepreneur, he said, “because you never know when you’ll have someone interested in buying your business, and if you’re not up to date on everything it can slow down the process.”
The timing of the acquisition worked well for Ousset-Paciulli because he had another opportunity lined up—a job as in-house counsel for Unreserved, a real estate tech company. “It’s rare to have a lawyer that has business experience also,” he said. “I think my clients really appreciate that because I can see both angles.”