The Silicon Review
“Currently, we’re focusing on supply chain tech, security tech, property tech, and HR tech.”
Growth Stack Inc is a Nevada-based private equity firm that acquires and grows profitable B2B SaaS businesses worldwide. The company is comprised of rapid deployment teams across five countries that provide the expertise and infrastructure needed to accelerate the growth of the businesses it acquires.
Kevin Petersen founded Growth Stack in 2018 and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the company.
The Silicon Review reached out to Mr. Petersen, and here’s what he had to say.
Setbacks are a part of every growing business. Tell us about a few roadblocks and learning lessons that helped you and Growth Stack grow through the years.
Seven years ago, I began buying online businesses and building micro portfolios for well-diversified investors who were unaware that there was even a secondary market for online businesses. So oddly, the very first online business that I bought was a tattoo blog. Ironically, I have no tattoos. It didn’t sound like a product, but I learned a lot from it.
So, my background is marketing, and to me, that’s the online business. A lot of times what’s missing are marketing fundamentals and traditional sales funds to test the waters. I paid $900 for a Tattoo blog and as I mentioned, I have no tattoos, but I needed to understand content marketing if I was going to go down this path. And again, my background is in marketing, but it was kind of a different beast. It was kind of new to me and I wanted to see what would happen so I bought this tattoo blog for $900.
I hired a developer to improve it and I paid about $300 in development costs. At the time, many online businesses were not mobile-friendly. So, I paid another $300 to make it mobile-friendly. I started writing the content myself and, based on my marketing background, I understood that relevance is everything. So, I started developing tattoo content around every holiday on the calendar. There was a tattoo blog around Halloween, like the best tattoos for Halloween and one for Christmas, and one for Valentine’s Day — pretty much every holiday. I invested $1200 in this business and then within 90 days it was producing $750 a month in profit.
As a result, I started buying businesses vigorously. However, I ran into a snag: Google eventually penalized my company. I received the infamous Google letter informing me that I would no longer be paid.
So, the first SaaS acquisition I bought in 2015 was a company called Picreel. At the time I bought it, it was creating those “annoying pop-ups.” This acquisition was around a million dollars, and it was our first seven-figure acquisition so it was a big deal for us. It was doing over 300K in ARR. We paid a 3x multiple.
So, the first SaaS acquisition I bought in 2015 was a company called Picreel. When I bought it, it was creating those “annoying pop-ups.” This acquisition was around a million dollars, and it was our first seven-figure acquisition, so it was a big deal for us. It was doing over 300K in ARR. We paid a 3x multiple.
Q. Can you introduce us to your software and services? What are their key features?
LongTailPro.com is one of the legacy assets we are operating today. It is one of the market’s most established keyword research tools. It’s been around for 11 years, and my team has been running it for three. Customers can use the platform to identify high-traffic, low-cost keyword phrases to optimize their SEO, content marketing, and ad spending. It’s a smart and simple tool for any online business owner or marketer looking to increase traffic and conversions.
Q. Tell us about the Growth Stack team. What value do they bring to the table?
I have got about 35 resources in nine countries and we are expected to double this year. I have a CTO on staff full-time. He is recruiting as needed. He’s originally from India but has been living in the US for about 15 years or so, so it’s very easy for him to draw on multi-national resources as needed.
Our current staff brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. One of my team members is a SAAS founder, advisor, and investor. He has been working on strategic partnerships with Fortune 50 and startup companies alike by proving management consulting services, digital marketing, sales strategies, and operations.
My CTO has 20 years of experience in software development, architecture, and people management. He has vast experience working with product development companies such as i2 Technologies (now JDA Software – implementing world-class supply chain software for companies such as Honda of America, Lockheed Martin, Samsung, Shell, and other Fortune 500 companies), Vitech Systems Group (whose V3 software is designed to address the unique needs of the insurance, retirement, and investment organizations). His primary focus is on agile development and delivery using cutting-edge technologies and hosting SaaS businesses in the AWS cloud. He’s achieved key several milestones in the world of software development, management, and delivery and has proven experience in managing technical teams of size over 50.
Another is a partner and advisor at Growth Stack. He’s involved in sourcing companies and applying a custom diagnostic model to identify the full value potential of a target asset. Soon, he may take on the role of Interim Chief Revenue Officer to build a scalable go-to-market strategy, which can include key hiring, territory and compensation plan mapping, and the building out of sales and customer success playbooks. His career has included building and managing direct sales teams and international reseller channels in roles such as VP sales at large public companies such as salesforce.com, and Internet Infrastructure company, Tucows, to CRO roles at private companies such as Dominion Voting and private equity platform, Axial.net.
And another has over 30 years of experience with many different industries across the world; everything from aviation, real estate, commodities, finance, sales, marketing, brokering deals, and negotiations are his forte. He has brokered ($500+mm) and created strategic partners and joint ventures as well as initiated acquisitions for many years and is now a key part of the Growth Stack Inc executive team, driving our acquisitions division. He has been with Growth Stack Inc since October 2020.
As you can see, we have a tremendously valuable team with a diverse background and that allows us to focus on the best deals for our investors.
Q. What’s the one thing you want Growth Stack to be known for?
Efficiency! When we first started, it was more of a test to see how far and fast we could scale micro SaaS businesses. Now I am truly focused on improving efficiencies in several industries. For example, we have all seen headlines about global supply chain issues. This can be solved with new technologies and better data.
Tell us, what’s next for Growth Stack.
Currently, we’re focusing on supply chain tech, security tech, property tech, and HR tech. Moreover, we have some exciting things in the works right now. We’re working on the acquisition of a supply chain company. It’s sort of in the right place at the right time for us, but it’s a really smart product.
Another vertical we are interested in is security tech, and it’s all kinds of security tech.
There are other mature industries that are ripe for tech adoption like real estate and human resources. Blockchain can be applied to make these verticals much more efficient.
Kevin Petersen | Founder & CEO
Kevin Petersen is a marketing automation and big data specialist with 21 years of experience working with companies like Charles Schwab and Wells Fargo and had founder shares in On Assignment Inc (NYSE: ASGN), a well-reputed staffing industry startup.
During his eight-year tenure in a Marketing Director role, sales grew from seven million dollars to $65 million annually, while the footprint expanded from 10 regional offices to more than 25 offices with international coverage. Petersen stayed through the IPO in 1996 [NYSE: ASGN], while the company continues to operate today in 26 countries at a $4 billion market cap.
Upon leaving On Assignment, Petersen leveraged his IPO and marketing experience to launch a consulting service coupled with a trade show marketing agency. His agency’s first client was Fortune 500 company, Kelly Services where he helped to grow brand recognition for its Kelly Scientific Resources unit. He continued consulting for more than 20 years with some emphasis on the finance industry focusing on big data and propensity modeling to support product launches.
Petersen’s SaaS experience includes growing a file-sharing platform to seven-figure revenue in its first year, an award-winning music industry start-up, and several portfolio brands that realized >50% YOY growth since its acquisition. Kevin is also the founding member of Level Up SaaS Mastermind, principal of Longtail Pro, principal of Online PR Media, and co-founder of Big Hearted Men, where he volunteers to give back to the community in Northern Nevada.
In 2013, Petersen began participating in what has become a thriving secondary market for web-based businesses. He then founded Growth Stack to bring this asset class to well-diversified investors and has been building a portfolio of B2B SaaS companies ever since.
Petersen is now seeking to take Growth Stack public either through a direct listing on the NASDAQ or a SPAC.