Shakil Prasla's journey to become a successful entrepreneur is an inspiring story of hard work and determination. In this article, we'll take a look at his criteria for a buy, learn about the red flags to watch for when searching for deals, and explore how he goes about making offers and financing deals.
Shakil Prasla is a mergers and acquisitions entrepreneur who has successfully acquired profitable e-commerce and real estate businesses. His portfolio includes e-commerce, convenience stores, car washes, and more.
At CapCon6, April 27-28, in Austin, TX, Shakil will be a featured speaker, sharing his secrets on what it takes to acquire, then build successful, wealth-creating businesses. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at his background, entrepreneurial strategies, and unique path to transformational wealth.
What is Shakil Prasla's background?
Shakil was born in Austin, TX, and holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from the University of Texas in Austin and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Austin's Acton School of Business. After completing the MBA program in 2013, Shakil was at a crossroads in what to do in his life. Looking for inspiration, he turned to Google to research top jobs for MBA graduates and bumped into a blog about how to start an e-commerce business.
At that time, Amazon was growing rapidly, and the idea of getting into e-commerce intrigued Shakil. So he decided to jump in with a website, although he knew very little about SEO or website design and needed to figure out what to sell. However, a trip to China to attend The Canton Fair, one of the world’s largest trade shows, provided the e-commerce inspiration Shakil needed to get started. Shakil spent two weeks exploring booths and decided to begin importing fashion accessories like cufflinks, tie clips, and watches through an online business he named ProCuffs, which he financed with his savings.
Once he had finished the ProCuffs site, it took about a year of hard work to become profitable. Shakil learned a lot from the process. But he was ready to do something more that led to higher income.
Shakil acquires businesses instead of building from scratch
During the following year, Shakil started looking at businesses for sale. He discovered a brokerage firm that sold online assets, including e-commerce sites. He subscribed to their list, and three months later, he purchased his first business, MisterCold, for $55,000. The business sold beverage coolers and was only making sales through the MisterCold website. Shakil started selling the products on Amazon and turned up the Google Ads, making back his investment in 6 months.
He decided to continue seeking e-commerce business acquisition opportunities, buying them through a company he founded called Pro Click Ventures. His focus was on one-person businesses or businesses with small teams. Fast forward to 2022–Shakil has acquired 12 companies in various niches through Pro Click Ventures. He and his companies are now bringing in eight figures in revenue.
Why acquire businesses instead of building from scratch? To Shakil, established one-person or small e-commerce businesses underutilizing technology and a growth platform represent tremendous untapped potential.
These are business owners who are doing everything and working 70 to 80 hours a week to keep it going. They aren't delegating. And as a result, they are getting burned out. Shakil can come in and acquire the business, delegate tasks to multiple people, incorporate proven e-commerce marketing strategies, and make the business more profitable than ever.
How He Hires Managers
A key component of Shakil’s acquisition strategy is hiring the right CEO to manage each business as he moves toward acquiring it. He brings the new CEO on during the due diligence process, so they get to learn how to run the business hand-in-hand with the previous owner. In some cases, instead of a new CEO, the original CEO continues to run the business, with support from Pro Click Ventures' core team of 80+ experts who serve the entire portfolio. The core team includes an SEO specialist, Ad Words specialist, designers, developers, product sourcers, and more.
Delegating tasks to the CEOs, other managers, and team members allows Shakil to run multiple businesses. Without these critical roles, it would be impossible to pull it off.
To find CEOs that are an ideal fit for each company, Shakil takes the following approach to hiring:
- Posts management and CEO jobs on LinkedIn, Indeed, and Zip Recruiter, as well as promotes job openings at conferences and on podcasts.
- Looks for candidates that have a desire and drive to grow the company.
- Chooses candidates to interview who have a leadership, management, or digital marketing background.
- Guides each CEO candidate through a series of interviews and personality tests.
- Brings the CEO candidate on-site to get a more accurate picture of their personality and how well they fit with the company and team.
To find the businesses for sale that are a good match for Pro Click Ventures, Shakil has set rigorous deal-spotting criteria. He considers approximately 100 businesses each month and narrows them down based on criteria to find the select few worth pursuing.
Here’s how Shakil finds the top deals to take through the next level of his acquisition evaluation process:
- Looks for an ideal match between the person selling the business and Pro Click Ventures. Shakil says there must be trust, good rapport, and healthy communication.
- Seeks companies with brands that are not dependent on the seller and with operations that can function without them. If the entire brand is based on the original owner’s personality, making the switch to a new face may not work.
- Moves forward with companies that have super clean financials.
- Identifies an updated technical side to the business; Shakil isn’t interested in taking on an e-commerce site that’s outdated or unprofessional.
Criteria for a Buy
Once Shakil has narrowed down the list of businesses to consider, he has a 20-point checklist he completes on each business to determine if it’s the right fit for the Pro Click Ventures portfolio. Twenty checkpoints! That’s a lot. But here are the three main points, according to Shakil:
- Stable business that is at least 5 years old. (An established e-commerce site makes it easier to capitalise on data, strategies, email lists, and social media.)
- Doing at least $300,000 in profit. (Reduces the risk and ensures they can pay the CEO and the rest of the team.)
- Driving 50% organic traffic.
There are a few things Shakil wishes he would have known before starting his entrepreneurial journey. Here's what he says are the red flags and situations to avoid when acquiring a business:
- Going after a business that doesn’t excite you or you are not passionate about. If you don’t have the drive and passion, you will lose interest in six months.
- Not doing due diligence–this is a crucial step to complete before making an offer.
- Black hat SEO practices–avoid these or any business that uses them.
- Low customer concentration–you need to ensure the business income isn’t riding on a handful of customers.
Doing Due Diligence and Making an Offer
Shakil says doing due diligence is absolutely imperative before making an offer. The truth is some sellers exaggerate how well their businesses are doing. By conducting due diligence, you can analyse the financials of each potential new business, so you have a crystal clear picture of what’s on the table and in the books. This minimises risks and helps you avoid unwanted surprises down the road.
If you don’t identify any red flags, the business meets your buying criteria, and due diligence reveals clean financials, you may be ready to make an offer. Shakil sends a list of questions to the business sellers via email, which he finds to be more effective and comprehensive than phone chats. He believes building rapport and trust with the seller is vital to a successful acquisition.
Financing the Deal
When Shakil first started buying businesses in 2013, he could only do cash deals and loans off other assets. These days, banks will give small business loans backed by the U.S. government, even for intangible digital assets. From Shakil's entrepreneurial point of view, these loans are relatively inexpensive at prime plus 2.75%. Additionally, SB loans only require the borrower to put down 10% of the money to make the purchase.
So after using his savings for his first business acquisition, Shakil began taking out loans to fund his acquisitions: SBA loans, unsecured loans, personal loans through credit unions, owner financing–he's done it all. Although carrying debt is riskier and may seem too risky to some entrepreneurs, Shakil says he gets a thrill from it. Knowing he needs to continue working hard to make the payments creates a surge of energy. Plus, he stays focused on the ROI. According to Shakil, his dollar goes further by borrowing.
Shakil’s calculated risks have led to him acquiring over $50M in PG’ed debt, but he also has a Pro Click Ventures’ portfolio of companies making more than $25M each year.
What Are Some of Shakil’s Businesses?
Through his investment firm, Pro Click Ventures, Shakil has acquired a diverse portfolio in various industries, including the following businesses, among others:
He is also the founder and managing partner of SZ Ventures, an investment firm specializing in acquiring, managing, and growing e-commerce Companies. In January 2020, Shakil acquired and became a partner of Gloves.com, a leader in disposable gloves.
At Capitalism.com, we believe entrepreneurs like Shakil Prasla are the engine of innovation and progress that fuel the global economy. His entrepreneurial vision and hard work to follow it up have helped him achieve the kind of transformational wealth most people only dream about. But, like Shakil, you can do more than dream. You can start doing it.
If Shakil inspires you to build a great business, too, we’d love to help you.
In fact, we’re on a mission to make one million millionaires by 2028. We want YOU to be one of them!
That’s why we created this FREE course that will coach you every step of the way. Grab it and get started today.