How we’re building Baton
August 4, 2023 ⋅ 7 min read
A year ago I kicked off our Baton Beat updates with "Why we’re building Baton". We have made some amazing progress on our mission and vision since then, but we’ve barely scratched the surface. As I touched on last year, the SMB acquisition market is a $2T industry stuck in the dark ages. Our mission is to clear the path for small businesses by giving everyone access to reliable data. We’re building the first two-sided marketplace built on verified data — ensuring that small business owners have agency over their future.
We launched last year by offering every small business in America the chance to Know their business valuation at no cost, even though competing valuations cost thousands of dollars. Our valuations are built off verified data from the owner’s books and not just a “quick & dirty” calculator that doesn’t use methods like DCF and recent sales comps to assess the true worth of the business. Once the owner understands the valuation we support them on next steps, whether that is helping them Grow or helping them Sell.
More recently we have let buyers Explore listings on our platform and have started to match serious buyers to interested owners on the platform. In addition, we have even more exciting product launches planned in a few months! We are still in the early innings to support owners and buyers, and we have many years (heck, decades!) ahead of us to make the industry-shifting change we want.
I’ve always believed that an effective way to measure progress is against your Core Values which we created almost exactly a year ago. So how are we doing?
In the last year we have grown from a vision (and a slide deck!) to a team of amazing humans that have assembled to help us drive better outcomes for owners and buyers. By taking care of our team, we take care of the customers that they interact with everyday. Moreover, this value extends beyond just our internal team — we prioritize the human behind the business we’re helping and empowering them. We want our employees to thrive and even though we’re small, we have invested in benefits like 401(k)s, generous parental leave, and mental health support and check-ins. I’m proud that we’re in the Top 25 of Psychological Safety out of Spill’s 600+ customers. If the team is treated with care and respect, I know they are taking care of our customers with that same care. 💗
The answer is not in the room
As amazing as our team is, we realize that our customers (both the owners and future owners) are in the trenches every day, so we spent a lot of time in the last year getting out and talking to them since we are intellectually curious and always learning! We walked door-to-door to talk to owners on South County Road in Palm Beach and 5th Ave in Brooklyn, we conducted 108 user interviews over the last year with owners and buyers and got real feedback from real users. We know that we are not our users, and want to ensure we are always leaning on them to point us in the right direction, even down to the language we use on the website.
A fun little story about this… in early iterations of our valuation report, owners had a hard time understanding the “comparables” (similar businesses to theirs). Multiple users kept saying, “I just want to see apples-to-apples comparisons” and you can see how we present that section now! 🍎
Information is power
For far too long, small business owners and buyers have been at an information disadvantage. Either there’s no recent information available, basic information is behind a paywall, or you can’t trust the info you do get access to. This slows down the entire market since there’s not a shared understanding of value or starting point to kick off discussions. Like CreditKarma did for credit scores or Zillow did for real estate, we’re going to unlock information for the small business market. We have 4M+ public estimates on businesses around the USA and it’s just the beginning. We’re giving both sides of the market access to data that was impossible to find without paying for it.
Problems that energize us
One thing I am super proud of is how we’ve attacked hard problems in the last year. People said, “you can’t acquire small businesses at scale” and “how are you going to create public estimates on 33M SMBs” haven’t met our team. Delivering valuations for owners in ~10 minutes is something (many) people told us was not possible. We take a customer-first approach - always looking to meet owners where they are - and this drives all of us, from Sales to Engineering.
Fast beats slow
I’m famous (or infamous?) at this point for saying that one of the key advantages we have as a startup is speed. The sooner we deliver an amazing product to the market the sooner we help the lives of millions. In one short year, we have helped over 1,000 owners start their journey and unlock their value, completely rebuilt our website (twice!), redid our blog (once), iterated our owner onboarding flow constantly, and automated our valuation engine to enable us to support even more owners. We have gone from idea to execution on the Growth side and delivered critical insights to help these owners make empowered decisions.
We prioritize frugality, not just because we like saving money (we do!), but because constraints drive better decisions and outcomes. Thinking critically about every expense and ensuring we’re working on the most impactful tasks ensures that we deliver even better solutions to small business owners and buyers. Additionally, we truly believe that “frugality” leads to better outcomes, the proverbial “win/win”. A great example of this: At our company offsites we cook meals as a team. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Yes, it’s cheaper than going out as a big group, but more importantly, we get closer and learn more about each other and work together better. #winwin
Care personally, challenge directly
I mentioned this earlier, but I am most proud of the team we have built over the last year. Our team has made an amazing amount of progress because of our incredible talent density and clear ownership across the team. Our team works hard to support our customers: sometimes that means delivering findings that challenge their assumptions about their business but it’s important to deliver this with empathy.
We make it a priority to forge real human relationships & give honest and timely feedback that comes from a place of caring — even at our early stage and small size — because we know it’s important to build the right habits now, so it continues as we grow and scale.
As we look back on the past year, we're proud of what we've accomplished as a company. We've grown, innovated, and collaborated to achieve some fantastic results. However, we also know that there's still much work to be done. We're excited to continue to push forward and launch even more products for both sides of the marketplace.
I’m truly grateful to our team, our investors, our families, and the 2,500+ customers who have trusted us to support their journey. Their feedback and encouragement have been instrumental in helping us achieve our goals. We're excited to see what the future holds for Baton and can't wait to share our progress with you in the coming year.
We’re excited to keep at it and get to work. 🚀
“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon