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Buying and Selling Small Businesses in Challenging Times

kokou adzo



Nunzio Presta

We talked to Nunzio Presta of on how to buy, sell and grow a business or franchise that truly suits their lifestyle while staying informed and motivated and this is what he had to say.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Nunzio Presta: We’re doing great! Reflecting on this pandemic: my wife and children have kept me resilient and surprisingly calm. They’re my constant reminder that life is beautiful and exciting. It’s really up to us to live and experience life to the fullest and create the life we want to live. I’ve frequently told myself that I can’t control this thing’s timeline during this entire pandemic, but I can control the outcome. So, as a family, we’ve been kind, nourished our relationships and moved forward – one foot in front of the other.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded

Nunzio Presta: I am an ex-pro hockey player turned entrepreneur, and currently serving as the CEO of – an online marketplace where people can buy, sell and grow businesses franchises every day. I experienced pain trying to sell my small business while I was in University (Ted Rogers School of Mgt, BCom, 2012) and quickly identified some global trends that excited me about the world of entrepreneurship through acquisition: 1. Boomers retiring 2. Foreign investors, 3. Millennials who are looking to “be their boss” vs finding a 9-5. Fast forward to now, six years after launch, and we’ve connected over $2b in businesses and franchises, building a community of over 40,000 entrepreneurs, franchise owners, business owners and business brokers looking to buy and sell in the micro-market (EV < $5M). We’ve built a strong brand, strong culture and robust technology that attracts a captive and engaged audience. As for me, I’ve grown a strong personal brand while sitting on the board of multiple startups and being part of Startup Canada’s Entrepreneur Success Advisory Council, in addition to a Startup Canada Advisor. I also mentor many entrepreneurs, small business owners and regularly contribute to Thrive Global. 

How does innovate? 

Nunzio Presta: We innovate in five fundamental ways. The first way is to continually look into the future and auditing our business environment in 3 specific lenses: social, economic and technology trends. The second is that we listen to our customers and execute based on feedback that we believe. Third, we analyze our data thoroughly. Fourth, we don’t underestimate imagination. And lastly, we don’t reward failure, we reward the process, and that process is failing, learning and moving forward with speed.

How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?

Nunzio Presta: We are one of the lucky businesses that have experienced an uptick in business activities during this pandemic. These upticks are being driven by people who’ve been laid off and are looking to explore business ownership, and business owners see this pandemic as a signal for them to let someone else guide the ship.

We are excited to help sellers build businesses for a post-COVID world and help buyers find suitable business opportunities for a post-COVID world. For example, both buyers and sellers should be thinking about buying/building pandemic, resilient businesses. Meaning, they should not only be searching/building a profitable, valuable and sellable business, but they also need to be searching/building for longevity and resilience as well. In the post-COVID world, it will be even more important to buy/build a business with a robust digital infrastructure, along with principles, values and culture that survive and thrive if another pandemic were to occur.

Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?

Nunzio Presta: Fortunately, I didn’t have to make any hard choices. Luckily, we’re in the digital era, so we were well prepared to work remotely and serve our audience in the digital world. Also, I’m fortunate to be part of an organization with a real cause. At, we have the drive to empower people to love what they do, and that’s the bottom line. Once you realize your profound reason as an organization, it immediately establishes that there is no start or finish, things become a lot clearer and more fun. You become more resilient because it’s not attached to some finite goal or milestone. It’s a forever game to us; constant learning regardless of the ups, the downs or the products or services we offer. We will always aim to empower people to love what they do and are open to seeing where that brings us, especially in a post-COVID world.

How do you deal with stress and anxiety?

Nunzio Presta: The first thing is to acknowledge that everyone can get stressed or have anxious moments, no one is exempt, but the difference is how long you allow yourself to stay there. For me, I’ve effectively developed a unique method of coping in which moments of stress or anxiety are short-lived. My vision, purpose and grit snap me back into shape.

Also, I build and protect my energy by eating well, exercising, meditating, reading, family time, talking with friends and sleeping. It all helps to reduce stress and anxiety while boosting my productivity.

Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?

Nunzio Presta: We don’t have competitors; we have friends and collaborators. They know who they are. As far as staying in the game: Well, the first thing we acknowledge is that this isn’t a game. A game has a start and finish. We aim to be on an infinite journey. To keep trucking along we will continue to lean on the right technology, we will stay committed to our deep cause of empowering people to love what they do. We will continue to delight all our stakeholders by visiting focused on building and educating a community of people that believe in the power of entrepreneurship and business ownership.

Your final thoughts?

Nunzio Presta: My final thoughts are around advice when buying or selling a small business during challenging times, and frankly, it would be the same advice that I would give during good times:

  1. Sellers: Stay focused and disciplined on building not only a valuable business but a sellable business. Sellable businesses are sold at the right time and align with social/economic/technology trends; commercial companies are self-sufficient, meaning they aren’t dependent on a particular stakeholder, and sellable businesses have strong and healthy financials. Commit to this framework.
  2. Buyers: Not only should you be searching for a profitable, valuable and marketable business, but you also need to search for a pandemic resilient business. In the post-COVID world, it will be even more important to buy a company with a robust digital infrastructure, along with principles, processes, values, and culture that can survive and thrive if another disruption as drastic as this pandemic were to occur. We have a free buyer workshop that can help guide you and a free Slack community where you can connect, share insight and ask questions about buying and selling businesses or franchises in the micro-market.

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Kokou Adzo is the editor and author of He is passionate about business and tech, and brings you the latest Startup news and information. He graduated from university of Siena (Italy) and Rennes (France) in Communications and Political Science with a Master's Degree. He manages the editorial operations at

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