Selling your business? Click here
A new marketplace launching hopes to become a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs buying or selling a business.
(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Looking to buy a used car dealership, or a Pizza Hut franchise? Thinking of selling your company? A new marketplace, BizTrader.com, is ready to play matchmaker.
Officially launching Monday after months of development and two weeks of public beta testing, New York City-based BizTrader.com aims to become a one-stop shop for buying, selling and valuing small businesses. It's not the first company to take on the market, but it hopes to stand out with two distinctive advantages: a global focus and broad search-engine exposure. While online brokers traditionally keep their listings proprietary to their own site, BizTrader.com will (for an added fee) push its listings out to broader search services like Google and Craigslist.
"This website is unique," said Timothy Bullard, CEO of Pewaukee, Wis.-based business brokerage agency Lakes Business Group and a BizTrader.com beta tester. "Compared to the competition, it's the first state-of-the-art one."
BizTrader.com founder and CEO Colby Sambrotto says his goal is to modernize the process of selling a business, enabling clients to connect with suitors and buying opportunities with a minimum of fuss. The former COO of real estate do-it-yourself sales site ForSaleByOwner.com, Sambrotto is well-versed in the tools buyers and sellers need from online listings.
"It's very intuitive," Sambrotto said of his site. "It's going to be something new for the space."
BizTrader.com's chief competitor is BizBuySell.com, the established leader in the online business-listings market. Launched in 1996 and acquired by LoopNet (LOOP) in 2004 for $4 million, BizBuySell.com claims to average 50,000 active listings at any given moment.
BizBuySell.com General Manager Mike Handelsman has seen rivals come and go, and says he's not worried about facing a new one like BizTrader.com. BizBuySell.com's first-mover advantage has given it an unparalleled customer base, in his view: "Being the largest has an advantage."
Both BizBuySell.com and BizTrader.com have subscription-based revenue models, charging customers monthly fees - starting at $60 per month for BizBuySell.com, $40 for BizTrader.com - to maintain their listings. Each also offers ancillary services, such as helping owners value their businesses and find financing opportunities.
As the Internet becomes an ever-more-important part of the business landscape, online advertising is increasingly important for business owners looking to sell, industry experts say. Web listings are replacing newspaper classified ads - and reaching a broader audience.
"Offline no longer works," said Mark Gavrilov, a broker with with Plainview, N.Y. business brokerage GM Data Corp. "The younger generation looks for opportunities online."
Gavrilov advertises his listings on about 10 different websites, including BizBuySell.com. Martin Leman, a marketing director at counseling nonprofit SCORE, also advises business owners looking for buyers to advertise online, where they can use interactive tools to showcase their businesses in more depth and with greater flair than offline ads typically allow.
Entrepreneur Sergio Cruz recently sold his Brooklyn cafe through a lead on BizBuySell.com. While online advertising is what attracted his buyer, Cruz isn't ready to write off dead-tree classified ads just yet. His advice to sellers: Use all methods available to promote your sale.