In 2017, I was faced with a lil' problem. I wanted to sell my startup that I'd put several months of love and labor into, and the biggest platform, Flippa, sucked big time.
“We've all seen the listings in Flippa which are out and out scams. Then there are those that don't seem like scams at first sight but turn out on further inspection to have fiddled the traffic figures, faked revenue etc.” — Flippa user (source)
"The problem with Flippa and many other market places is the lack of quality control. Any truly good domain gets buried in mountains of ****. As a buyer you'd have to devote hours to sifting through crappy domain names in hopes of finding a decent one." — Flippa user (source)
I had a very similar experience. Sellers often low balled ridiculous offers, and my software with proprietary tech, bespoke design and a niche brand was buried under 100s of "website flippers" who made quick e-commerce/affiliate sites and flipped them.
So I spent the weekend building my own marketplace and launched it on HackerNews.
HackerNews launch on Sept 8, 2017
"Congrats on shipping! I've bookmarked this site for the next time I'm looking for a side project." — HN Commenter
"big up! lots of us with obscure projects will be happy to have a place to give them life, even if it becomes someone else' baby." — HN Commenter
"Love the inclusion of the stack. It makes it easy to see if there are any projects I want to pick up as a feature addition to our product." — HN Commenter
Immediately, I got a rush of new projects and interested buyers!
Before building Borderline, I was aware of the chicken and egg problem marketplaces face. Having worked at Dubizzle (a classifieds marketplace in Dubai), I'd learned that for a marketplace to work, you need both buyers and sellers. That is what liquidity depends on. Luckily, getting on the HackerNews homepage solved that right away and I was off to a great start!
In 2018, Borderline was truly a very liquid marketplace. Many startups were exchanging hands every month. I sold 5-6 of my own projects and liquidated over $30k+ in assets.
My idea had become a reality. My marketplace was a minor success.
For the 7 odd years that Borderline has been live; hundreds of startups have exchanged hands and 100s of thousands of dollars liquidated. My goal for Borderline going into the future is simple, give founders a place to sell their revenue generating startups at a fair price.
And it's working..
"Borderline continues to be useful to us as we continue to source and develop opportunities in the major markets that we participate in. There are thousands of developers with small and medium size projects that do not have a great outlet for finding funding or ways to convert their sunk costs into real dollars. Providing a marketplace like solution for entrepreneurs who would not normally be able to make a connect is a valuable commodity.” — David • Investor
Today, Borderline is a small, but growing community of founders, developers, and entrepreneurs. We're a place where you can buy and sell startups, side projects, and online businesses. We're a place where you can find your next project, or your next buyer.
Borderline is a place where you can find your next adventure.
When I launched Borderline.biz, my friend hated the name (shoutout Najam). He just didn't get it. He wasn't alone. Most people think of Borderline Disorder when they hear the word. And most people really dislike the name.
But the reason I chose the name was completely different. It's from a verse I like.
If you're travelin' in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Please say hello to the one who lives there
For she once was a true love of mine
Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash in the album Nashville Skyline.
Borderline is a faraway place, up north. It's cold, you'll probably see a deer there (hopefully that explains the logo). I think of snow and forest when I think of this song, and that's what Borderline is named after.
And the domain was kinda available.. so that too!
Thanks for reading!
@kumailht on twitter/x