Mugshot Bot automatically generates beautiful previews of links when they are shared on blogs, social media or in messaging apps

What an amazing story the one from Joe where he tells us how he built, scaled, and sold Mugshot Bot  to us in just 14 months! Well, I thought it might be interesting as well to know how it happened that we decided to buy it :). So here is our side of the story told from my very personal point of view.

It all starts with Rails

I have worked with Ruby On Rails for 10 years now and I also became the maintainer of one of the most historical gems: CanCanCan. Ruby On Rails was my bet ten years ago, when I quit my previous job, to switch from Java to Ruby and to move from Italy to Switzerland at the same time.

Here in Switzerland 🇨🇭 I started working at Renuo, exactly because it was a Web Agency and it was working mainly with Ruby On Rails.

A few years later I bought shares of the company and became one of the three shareholders.

At Renuo we have worked with Rails for 10 years now, it's our main framework to bring our customers' ideas to life.

Meeting Joe

Along this journey, I of course started following the Hotwired Dev Newsletter from Joe Masilotti and started following him on Twitter.

As a big fan of Hotwire, I also started creating the Turbo Showcase, where we train ourselves on Turbo and collect all possible components and ideas – by the way, it is open-source, so contributions are welcome!

I already knew Mugshot Bot and when Joe decided to sell it, I immediately contacted him to ask a few questions.

A quick decision

The nice thing about being a 20 people company with just three partners, is that you can make decisions very fast. I wrote to my partners right away and organised a meeting a few days later to discuss if we wanted to acquire Mugshot Bot. I sent them all the necessary information: estimated number of customers, monthly revenues, estimated price on Microacquire, technology stack. Each one of us had to answer the following questions (copy-pasted from our internal slack):

  • each one of us looks into it and makes a list of possible questions

  • each one of us also estimates «if I’d buy how much would I pay for it»

  • we sit together 1h and compare what we have and get back to him with questions, an offer, or a no

A few days later we had the meeting, which lasted way less than one hour and we then new:

  • It’s a lovely tool and a smart idea.

  • Our existing Web Agency customers will benefit from it.

  • It’s in Ruby On Rails, so we can easily maintain and improve it. The company costs are at zero for the acquisition of a Ruby On Rails platform.

  • We never acquired a SaaS before so this is going to be a very good chance to learn something.

So, we decided to make him an offer!

The offer

I prepared a single-page offer for Joe, that was following the «no bullshit» principle that usually drives us at our daily work at Renuo. It consisted of the following parts:

  • What we offer: The price. Right up here. First information. The most important.

  • Why we wanted to buy: We know that selling a product is like saying goodbye to your child, so it’s important for Joe to know why we wanted to acquire the platform.

  • What’s our plan: Same as above, explain to him our plans.

  • Who we are: If all the above look good, here is who we are, and what we do.

We also highlighted some points that I felt could have been important, like:

  • 10% of our earnings goes to all employees.

  • 10% of our earnings goes to charities and open source.

  • We work and invest daily in Ruby On Rails and Open Source and sponsor different projects like cancancan or rubocop.

The sale

Joe accepted our offer! It was an amazing day, on the same day we acquired MugshotBot my second child, Pietro, was born! What a day! 🤣

In just a few days, we had a one-page contract ready, performed the payment to Joe, and started transferring ownership.

The process was very smooth, Joe was very professional and willing to help us in the process. The whole coordination happened through a single Google Drive document and a few Github issues.

The migration happened in just a few days, and MugshotBot had a new maintainer!

The future of Mugshot Bot

What will happen now? We started with very simple changes on the platform, where we updated references, email addresses, and logos to point to Renuo.

During these days we were also taking care of updating ruby, rails, and all dependencies, to their latest version. The project was already in very good shape, so this didn't take us long.

Now we plan to also replace turbolinks with turbo, and webpacker with esbuild. But this is all about the technical part.

We already started reaching out to our existing customers to show them the tool and make proposals about how they can use it. We plan to expand beyond blogs and aim to a wider variety of customers. Some examples?

E-commerce: We believe that an e-commerce platform will benefit a lot from being able to share rich previews of their products, including prices and discounts.

Online courses platforms: The customer likes the idea that when a course is shared, there is a full title, a small description, and the school logo.

Auction Houses: And what about sharing an item in an auction, with a nice picture and the start bidding price and the actual offer?

Escape Rooms, textures, second-hand shops, newspapers, and plugins for existing platforms! We have so many ideas! Let’s see where this will bring us.

If you are interested, have ideas or know anyone who would be interested in the upcoming changes and would like to test it out reach us at [email protected] or over on Twitter @MugshotBot.