Brian Casel considered a few avenues for selling his blog-writing service agency, and even listed the business on a marketplace. Yet he ultimately found a buyer close to home: his friend.

The founder sold Audience Ops in September 2021 to Graffam Cos., a portfolio of tech and design businesses run by his buddy JD Graffam. It was a high six-figure deal, Casel shared in a blog post.

Casel founded Audience Ops in 2015 as a productized service for content marketing. The productized service model, which has grown in popularity in recent years, involves turning a service that’s typically tailored to each client into a one-size-fits-all offer, which allows the business to deliver more efficiently. Casel explains the concept in What is a productized service?

Casel’s a designer and software developer who has built several SaaS (Software as a Service) products. He bootstrapped Audience Ops and ran it for years relying only on freelancers, no employees. He also shared details of the sale on Twitter.

“Pursuing the productized service model with Audience Ops… most certainly resulted in a more ‘sellable’ business than just consulting or growing a big project-based agency,” Casel wrote.

Sure, agencies get bought and sold often. But the subscription-revenue and highly predictable and scalable operations made Audience Ops much more ‘SaaS-like,’ which makes it more attractive as an acquirable asset.” – Founder Brian Casel

How Casel reached out to a buyer for Audience Ops

Graffam Cos, Graffam’s portfolio of design and technology companies, has about 100 employees.

Casel sold directly to Graffam, without a broker or marketplace. He reached out to Graffam and several other potential buyers after deciding he wanted to sell.

“From LOI [Letter of Intent] to closing with JD took about five weeks,” Casel tweeted. “I’m happy with the outcome. But I really dislike the process. I’d much rather spend my time building and talking to customers.”

Audience Ops had a team of about 25 freelancers at sale. They served hundreds of customers and accumulated “a few million in revenue over the time I owned it,” Casel wrote.

Casel sold the business to free up time to focus on his software product, ZipMessage, a tool for sending asynchronous video messages.