Curated has a new owner
Today, I am excited to announce that I bought Curated.
Curated is an app that makes it easy to build a beautiful email digest newsletter for your audience or brand.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. Through Graffam Cos., I buy and operate a portfolio of SaaS apps as well as two digital agencies. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but after buying and running so many businesses, I still wake up every day absolutely giddy that I get to do this for a living.
But enough about me, the real story here is about how Curated got here and where it’s going.
“I still wake up every day absolutely giddy that I get to do this for a living.”
I love sharing backstories, not just because they’re interesting, but because they’re important in seeing how values are forged and guide things. In addition to features and benefits, a company’s values help people evaluate whether to sign up for this service or move on down the line and look for another option. So with that in mind, here’s how it all went down and where we’re heading.
In 2011, Curated’s founder, Dave Verwer, started sending out his weekly roundup, iOS Dev Weekly. After several years of putting together the newsletter manually, a time-consuming process every week, he had built up a solid audience and earned some sponsorship. He was making money!
So he committed some time to build Curated to make his life easier. Eventually, he opened it up so other people who wanted to curate link-based email newsletters could focus more on their content than their workflow. Over time, this turned into a good little business.
The platform Dave built isn’t just for individuals with an audience, it works great for brands, too. There are some really influential customers using Curated, thought leaders and brands alike.
Some of our customers:
- Sketch News is direct from Sketch (which is giving Adobe a run for their money) and shares the latest news, resources and articles about their product.
- The NG-Newsletter shares the best Angular content on the web.
- There’s also Voters Trust, Startup Curated, Data Elixir, This Week in Swift and the React Newsletter.
But then, Dave sold Curated to Litmus (which is a great product, by the way — we use it at all of my companies). Litmus had some really cool ideas about how to work Curated into their business and cross promote it with their customers.
Over time, the team continued to take good care of the existing customers and ensure the app performed well, and they continued to add features. Litmus took good care of Curated, because that’s how they roll. But what they didn’t do was follow through on their original ideas for vastly expanding Curated.
A few months ago, the Litmus team decided to find a new owner for Curated. They started looking for someone who could take good care of the product and its customers, someone who had proved they could move the business forward and take care of it for a long time. This is because Litmus, and Dave, really care about their customers and products.
“Litmus was looking for someone who could take good care of the product and its customers.”
They started by asking friends if they knew anyone who buys apps, which is how they learned about me.
Litmus’s CEO, Paul Farnell, is friends with Natalie Nagele from Wildbit. I should start by emphasizing how deeply committed Natalie and Paul both are to their teams, their products, and their customers. They’re on the same page with regards to business values.
Natalie knew about my acquisition of Sifter from her employee, Garrett Dimon, who’s written extensively on how that all went down. Wildbit is like a family, and Garrett and I were fast becoming friends, so when I was in Philadelphia last year for Bacon Biz, Natalie and her husband, Chris, invited me into their home with Garrett for cocktails. That evening, we all talked about kids, life and business, and I saw and heard first hand how much they care about their company and team. If I’m being honest, they inspired a lot of what I’m doing for the people in my companies.
Since the team at Litmus cared about what happens to Curated, they wanted to sell to someone who had a proven track record of running similar businesses and taking care of customers.
“If I’m being honest, they inspired a lot of what I’m doing for the people in my companies.”
Natalie knew me and my qualifications (and what I stand for), so she made the introduction.
I hit it off with Paul and Dave, and the deal went very quickly.
What I See In Curated
First of all, it’s a really well-designed and well-built product. It solves a simple problem, and it solves it well: Curated takes the worry and work out of building a newsletter, which lets you focus on the content.
These are the things that my team and I are passionate about.
On top of that, Curated is a healthy business and is a great addition to the portfolio of apps I’m growing.
What’s really interesting to me here is that Curated adds a new dimension to my portfolio of mostly B2B apps for small businesses. As I have grown my companies, I have learned the hard way how important content marketing is.
Curated is a focused, niche product that can help these same small businesses. Linking to other content is a great way to position yourself as an authority in a market with a smaller marketing team.
“Linking to other content is a great way to position yourself as an authority.”
In other words, it serves the same businesses my other apps serve, but in a new way. I want to really focus my portfolio on helping business owners, agencies and consultants grow their business, whether it’s through better time tracking and invoicing, cash flow management, bug and issue tracking, customer experience surveys and now, with Curated, content marketing.
What’s Ahead for Curated
Even though I bought my first app a long time ago, I still catch myself being nervous and excited about this whole process. We still celebrate when we make our first successful code push to a new app (which, for Curated happened a couple of weeks ago).
For now, we don’t have any crazy, unicorn-inspired ideas for Curated because I take a more realistic approach in business 🦄. Like we have with each of the other apps, we’ll make small but meaningful improvements to the user experience and judiciously add features. We’re not afraid of thinking big and investing majorly in our products, but that’s not our first goal. First, we just want to ensure that everything is managed well and moving forward for our customers. We own Curated 100%, and it’s profitable, so we’re going to be responsible and stick around for a long time.
Before we focus on anything else, we listen and take care of our customers. We want to know what they love as well as what they’d change.
We’re going to take very good care of Curated, and we’re going to take even better care of its customers. Good things are ahead.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to chat about any of this. One more thing: Obviously, you should sign up to get my very own Curated newsletter, Upstream.
You should follow me on Twitter.