"I didn’t want to sell initially regardless of who wanted to buy us," he says. "The company was growing fast, we had nearly 100 per cent client retention and ourannual subscriptions are paid in advance, so we were cash rich for our size."
But Daily Mail Group’s offer comprised more than just money: the company owns publications, websites and radio stations all over the world: "I realised that together we had something far bigger on our hands than I could achieve on my own," says McGuire. "That’s what swung it for me. They’re hugely focussed on digital and they’re prepared to back us substantially as we grow internationally. It was definitely the right call."
The £3.5m-turnover Broadbean currently feeds some 700 job boards in the UK and Europe, with 30,000 users. Breaking the US will take the job board count to the 2,500 mark so Daily Mail Group’s nous and financial clout was understandably attractive.
There was also the issue of the silent partner, who owned a 37 per cent share in Broadbean but didn’t work in the business. "It didn’t add much value having someone on board who didn’t have a hands-on role," says McGuire. "So this was the opportunity for him to exit."
The value of the deal is undisclosed, but McGuire and his partner Kelly Robinson have sold their full stakes in the business, with a mooted earn-out deal at the end of their length of service. Both will remain on the management team, McGuire staying as MD and Kelly moving to head up the US operation. "I’m not done yet," says McGuire. "When I got involved in this business six years ago, I wanted to take it global. I’m going to stay until I’ve done that."
But the deal was not without its snags. "Due diligence isn’t meant to be fun. And it’s not." says McGuire. "I’ve spoken to a few other entrepreneurs who’ve exited and they all say the same thing. That resignation letter you’ve got from your first employee, contracts about IP rights, some non-disclosure agreement you’ve signed to get a deal that doesn’t seem important – keep it, file it. You’ll need it one day. The littlest thing can hold up the deal. Fortunately for me Kel took care of most of that!"
But when all the ‘t’s were crossed and the ‘i’s dotted, it just came down to the final contract signing. "The lawyers wanted to arrange the final meeting for a Monday," McGuire recalls. "We haggled them to a Wednesday. They replied, ‘The stock market’s just crashed and you want to wait a couple more days” Are you having a laugh?’
"But, let’s face it, who wants to celebrate on a Monday night!?"