HOW NICK BELL BUILT AND SOLD A $39M COMPANY

Written on the 2 May 2017 by David Simmons

HOW NICK BELL BUILT AND SOLD A $39M COMPANY
FROM humble beginnings in 2008 with just $400 to his name to a sale price of $39 million, Australian entrepreneur Nick Bell now has one of those classic "built-it-from-nothing" stories that are the envy of many in the business world.

He sold his digital marketing company, WME Group, to ASX listed Melbourne IT (ASX:MLB) as one of Australia's leading digital marketing companies, with offices across the globe from Dubai to Hong Kong to Singapore.

"I've been approached a few times by large organisations to buy the business out and buy my Australian business, and at the time it probably wasn't the right fit for us," says Bell.

WME Group provides end-to-end digital marketing solutions including search engine optimisation and advertising, and web design.

"Melbourne IT approached myself and were looking to purchase a digital marketing agency such as ourselves and it was just the right fit; they've got half a million customers, they're probably the leader in digital marketing in Australia and it was just a perfect marriage for both parties to go together," Bell says.

"They want to keep the business intact, they want to leverage what we do, and learn from what we do."

Melbourne IT will fund the purchase of Bell's company through a combination of $9 million debt and round of capital raising of $30.7 million to the company's shareholders.

Bell will exit WME on June 30, but will continue to be involved with WME's operations overseas as well as the many Australian based projects he currently has going on.

"To be honest, I'll take month or two off and I'll work out what the next big play is," says Bell.

"I definitely want to get back into something fairly quickly."

Business News Australia spoke to Nick Bell today following the sale of WME and asked him what his tips on being a successful entrepreneur, the sector's growth areas, and what he will be working on into the future.

What are your three tips for success in entrepreneurship?

"Number one: I think in business entrepreneurship you need speed and urgency. You've got to get things done today and not tomorrow. I don't have long two to three hour meetings. If we need a meeting it's a stand-up meeting for 5 or 10 minutes and I won't have a group of people in that meeting, I'll just have a couple of key people. So make sure you use your time very wisely.

"Number two: deliver on what you promise. If you promise X, Y, and Z, make sure you deliver on X, Y, and Z and overdeliver. Its literally the fundamentals. Make sure you do the fundamentals correctly and business will evolve and grow.

"And number three: make sure your business is in the door. Market your business. Get leads in the door. Without marketing or deals how can you grow the company? If you do the basics and get the fundamentals right your business will grow."
 

What other projects have you been working on lately?

"Roughly a year ago I started a domain and hosting business called Hosting Australia, we launched that a year ago and that's really taken off in Australia. We're going to launch that in the US in August this year.

We've also launched a website security business called SiteGuard.com; if your website's been hacked we prevent it from being hacked again. I'm probably moving into the website security industry and domains and hosting side of the business."
 

Is website security a different world to digital marketing?

"It is I've been doing it for the past year. It's a nice synergy business to what I do now. So I do digital marketing services and web design, but every single website needs hosting, they need a domain name, so it works with my other businesses.

So I'm still keeping Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai operations. So they'll work with the new business and hopefully grow the website hosting business and security company."
 

What are some of the tech trends and internet trends that entrepreneurs should watch for in the next few years?

"Social media. The reason I say that: a friend of mine, his daughter had her eighth birthday recently and they're all cutting the cake and every single one of these eight year olds had a phone and every single one was filming the cutting of the cake.

And next every single one posted that video onto Instagram and Facebook. So this generation every single one of these kids is using social media. The next few years, what are they going to be using? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter?

I think doing something around social media you're going to keep moving forward."

Business News Australia
 
Author: David Simmons

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