Monday Q&A: Internet dating for the brokerage set

From a nondescript medical office complex off Hull Street Road in Chesterfield, two serial entrepreneurs are trying to build an eHarmony equivalent for business brokers, and they have funding from a third entrepreneur who sold the local web company GetLoaded.com.

Hector Vazquez, 43, started thinking about the concept for Bizilla in 2008. Then he brought Brett Anderson, 26, aboard. Anderson started his first business in high school.

The startup, which helps make transfers of business happen, has invested between $500,000 and $1 million and is not yet breaking event. But Vazquez and Anderson think that will happen next year.

Below is an edited transcript of a recent chat.

Richmond BizSense: How big is the company?

Brett Anderson: We have two full-time employees and six contract website programmers downtown.

RBS: Where did the idea come from?

Hector Vazquez: I was a business broker for seven years in Richmond, and I was frustrated with other websites I was using. I tired of their high costs.

RBS: You paired up with Pat Hull, the founder of  GetLoaded, to help fund this idea. What did he bring to the project?

Vazquez: He though that if it was a website that was better able to surpass the competitors and become dominant force [then it was a worthy investment]. That’s the way he got into GetLoaded. And it’s the same boat we’ve put ourselves in here.  Out of 41 companies that do exactly what we do, we have gotten up to No. 7 as far as traffic membership and listing.

Anderson: We are a small company with resources of a big company, with previous experience with web search and optimization. As a result of that, we have a a pool of knowledge and resources and financing most startups don’t have.

RBS: How is the viewership growing?

Anderson: Our traffic grew 100 percent in August, and we’re on track now for 82 percent growth this month.

RBS: How does the site make money?

Anderson: Through advertising and member fees for brokers. We’ve got some educational materials, too, that we’re partnering on and are getting into seminars and courses. We expect to break even sometime in April.

RBS: What’s the biggest challenge?

Vazquez: For most companies, it’s the money. For us, it’s not. But it’s marketing ourselves to business brokers. Most are over 50 years old. This is a new website, and these guys don’t like changes.

Anderson: I’d say it’s maintaining a growth rate for a new company in an industry that contracted 35 percent in last 12 months.

RBS: How about the name. Where did that come from?

Hector: I came up with it. I had a Spanish company called Basalia. Then I combined Biz with Godzilla. The website was taken, though. Some kid had it in Ohio. He was selling dinosaurs. We contacted him. At first he wanted $5,000. I told him, ‘I’m going to hang up phone.’ We ended up paying $1,200. I would have paid $5,000.

RBS: What has surprised you?

Anderson: Managing the development of a website is much more complex than anyone knows. It’s a necessity to have a team in place with full understanding of seeing your vision and to interpret that into code. And then things will happen to a website you would never think of or question.

Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send news tips to [email protected]

From a nondescript medical office complex off Hull Street Road in Chesterfield, two serial entrepreneurs are trying to build an eHarmony equivalent for business brokers, and they have funding from a third entrepreneur who sold the local web company GetLoaded.com.

Hector Vazquez, 43, started thinking about the concept for Bizilla in 2008. Then he brought Brett Anderson, 26, aboard. Anderson started his first business in high school.

The startup, which helps make transfers of business happen, has invested between $500,000 and $1 million and is not yet breaking event. But Vazquez and Anderson think that will happen next year.

Below is an edited transcript of a recent chat.

Richmond BizSense: How big is the company?

Brett Anderson: We have two full-time employees and six contract website programmers downtown.

RBS: Where did the idea come from?

Hector Vazquez: I was a business broker for seven years in Richmond, and I was frustrated with other websites I was using. I tired of their high costs.

RBS: You paired up with Pat Hull, the founder of  GetLoaded, to help fund this idea. What did he bring to the project?

Vazquez: He though that if it was a website that was better able to surpass the competitors and become dominant force [then it was a worthy investment]. That’s the way he got into GetLoaded. And it’s the same boat we’ve put ourselves in here.  Out of 41 companies that do exactly what we do, we have gotten up to No. 7 as far as traffic membership and listing.

Anderson: We are a small company with resources of a big company, with previous experience with web search and optimization. As a result of that, we have a a pool of knowledge and resources and financing most startups don’t have.

RBS: How is the viewership growing?

Anderson: Our traffic grew 100 percent in August, and we’re on track now for 82 percent growth this month.

RBS: How does the site make money?

Anderson: Through advertising and member fees for brokers. We’ve got some educational materials, too, that we’re partnering on and are getting into seminars and courses. We expect to break even sometime in April.

RBS: What’s the biggest challenge?

Vazquez: For most companies, it’s the money. For us, it’s not. But it’s marketing ourselves to business brokers. Most are over 50 years old. This is a new website, and these guys don’t like changes.

Anderson: I’d say it’s maintaining a growth rate for a new company in an industry that contracted 35 percent in last 12 months.

RBS: How about the name. Where did that come from?

Hector: I came up with it. I had a Spanish company called Basalia. Then I combined Biz with Godzilla. The website was taken, though. Some kid had it in Ohio. He was selling dinosaurs. We contacted him. At first he wanted $5,000. I told him, ‘I’m going to hang up phone.’ We ended up paying $1,200. I would have paid $5,000.

RBS: What has surprised you?

Anderson: Managing the development of a website is much more complex than anyone knows. It’s a necessity to have a team in place with full understanding of seeing your vision and to interpret that into code. And then things will happen to a website you would never think of or question.

Aaron Kremer is the BizSense editor. Please send news tips to [email protected]

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