I Bootstrapped A $1.5M/Year Business By Flipping And Investing In Websites

Published: January 24th, 2022
Mohit Tater
BlackBook Investm...
from Gurgaon, Haryana, India
started December 2012
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Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello, my name is Mohit Tater and I am the CEO and founder of BlackBook Investments. We buy and operate profitable internet businesses and also help others invest in these businesses.

We mainly have three offerings:

  1. 1-1 Investment - This is a fully managed, done-for-your service wherein we work with investors one to one and help understand their investment goals and motivations. After that, we begin the search for the perfect business for them. We do everything, from scouting the deals, doing due diligence, negotiations, and the business transfer. We also operate the business on behalf of the investor once it's been bought, The minimum investment needed to avail of this offering is $100,000.
  2. Group Buy - This is also a fully managed service but with a much lower entry point at $25,000. Here, we pool money from multiple investors and then buy 3-4 assets in each pool we do. We usually only do one of these per year but might do more as the demand for this is very high due to the lower ticket size.
  3. Deal Finding and Vetting - This is a service for people who either do not have $100,000 or wish to be more hands-on but still need some hand-holding in finding and buying the right business. In this, we do everything we would do in the one-to-one offering, except managing the business once it's been bought. But we do give the client a 6-month growth for the business which gives them a head start and direction. The fee for this starts from $5,000.

Our clients are very diversified and come from different backgrounds. But most of them are either very high earnings professionals (doctors, consultants, lawyers, etc) or entrepreneurs themselves who might have had an exit and now wish to diversify their investments.

BlackBook Investments is a 7-figure business with high-profit margins — one that allows me to travel and work with clients around the world. Currently, we have over $7.5m in AUM (assets under management) and we are growing at a very rapid pace.

In 2021 alone, we have deployed over $2m of investor capital into buying profitable Internet businesses and we are looking to double that in 2022.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The year was 2011 and I had just graduated from the world’s most exclusive university. I had already scored a job at Zomato (now turned Unicorn) when the company was at a very early stage and this seemed like a great opportunity where I would get to work directly with the founders. So I took it up and then wore multiple hats in my first year there, from going to thousands of restaurants and collecting their menus to launching the product in 5 new cities. It was a great learning experience.

But ultimately, I had always wanted to do my own thing (reading Rich Dad Poor Dad does this to you!). So I quit after one year without a plan in hand and started exploring what business I could start. I had recently read The Four Hour WorkWeek by Tim Ferriss and was fascinated by the idea of location independent businesses. So that's what I figured I’d start; a location-independent business.

“I didn't want my work to dictate my lifestyle, I wanted the opposite of it.”

The internet seemed the obvious way for me to achieve my goals. After all, who hadn't heard of numerous rags to riches stories of internet millionaires. So I did what any self-respecting wannabe entrepreneur would do; I googled “make money online.”

That is when I went down the deep rabbit hole of “internet marketing.” Luckily for me, during my time at Zomato, I used to spend my evenings and weekends learning how to build websites. So I thought let's start blogging and make money from ads and affiliate income. I was not the best writer but I gave it a shot nonetheless. After one year of blogging, all I heard were crickets. No traffic, no income, nothing to show for.

Instead of being dejected, I started thinking of how I could make it work. Since this internet thing has worked for so many people, it must work. It was December of 2012 and I had somehow discovered Flippa. It was a marketplace to buy and sell blogs and websites that were already successful and making money.

Don't wait for things to be perfect, just take the plunge and start today.

That was the light bulb moment. I thought to myself, if I can't grow a business from scratch, I might have a better chance of scaling an already profitable business. So I bought my first business for $2,500 on Flippa, which was financed by my savings and a loan from my mom. It was a social media marketing agency and in six months of running it, I turned it around and quintupled it, eventually selling it for $12,500 (on Flippa of course) in mere six months. That’s when I was like, this thing works!

Over the next couple of years, I rinsed and repeated the process. Sometimes, the businesses would be great buys but at other times, I was also scammed.

I stuck to it and eventually started buying bigger businesses (mid to high five figures). From the proceeds of my first sale, I decided to fulfill my long-standing dream of visiting the USA, especially New York City. I had a friend who was working in a hedge fund in Manhattan at that time. I stayed with him for a few weeks and he casually asked me about what I was doing and got interested in investing himself.

That's when the idea for BlackBook Investments was born. When I came back to India, I started working on the idea and figuring out if there was enough demand for it. Slow and steady, more and more people started asking me if I could help them invest in online businesses, though they didn't know anything about them. That's when BlackBook was officially born, in January of 2014.

So I went back to my friend and decided to buy his first business which I would be managing. It worked out well and in the next 2 to 3 years, he got his friends and family involved, and collectively they invested a lot of money into buying websites and Internet businesses, which I was managing for them.

Over the last 8 years, we have worked with a lot of investors helping them achieve the high ROI that Internet businesses provide, while it being passive for them.

Take us through the process of designing your initial service

Since there was no market for these services (not that I knew of), it was difficult to design a service around it, or rather, difficult to price the service. We initially started with a 50-50 profit split with the investor where we were the operating partner and the investor was the one putting in all the money.

Slowly, as the size of the businesses we were buying grew, we had to customize the fee accordingly and we introduced a fixed fee + revenue percentage model.

To this day, we always try to tailor the fee structure to suit the needs of the investors. For example, one of our investors is looking for home runs instead of steady quarterly dividends. So the structure with them is different than what it would be for an investor who is looking for a steady passive income through quarterly dividends. Historically, we have been able to provide investors with a 27-30% ROI annually, and that’s after our fee.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Since it was a service-based business, I didn't have any startup costs. It was a one-man show and did everything myself. The only costs I incurred were the hosting and domain registration fee. I made the initial website myself.


Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I am a strong proponent of letting my work speak for itself. That's why 100% of my business is through referrals and word of mouth. I deliberately do not do any marketing or promotions.

Almost all our investors have invested more than once with us once we proved to them that we could generate a high ROI for them. So we don't have to do anything extra to retain clients, as long as we can run and grow their businesses and give them the ROI they are happy with.

Apart from this, we are now fairly established and well-known in the website investing circles and are among the select few operators that provide this service.

Our clients are mostly people who have some idea about the website investing space and they are wanting to take the plunge. So we write content that can be understood fairly easily by all levels of investors and help them make an informed decision.

We do not depend on Google for traffic or getting clients, so that way, we don't need to worry about writing for Google, and we can focus on writing for the reader.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?.

Currently, we are managing over 15 businesses across different niches with a combined valuation of around $5m. We have a team of over 20 talented people working full-time with us. I have always considered profitability a very important factor when running any business and I am glad to say that we have been profitable since day one.

Whether you have to work on the weekends for a side hustle or quit your day job to launch your startup, don't wait for the stars to align, coz they never will.

We aim to be the go-to people for anyone who wishes to invest in websites and digital assets. We currently have over $5m in AUM and are aiming to double that by the end of 2022. Ultimately we want to be a $100m company and help as many people to invest in this new asset class as possible.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

The main tools of our trade are G Suite, Asana, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Friday, and Invoicely.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

There have been two books that have been a game-changer for me; Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.

I read Rich Dad Poor Dad while in high school and the moment I read it, I knew I had to do my own thing. Even though I didn't come from business background (my dad is a doctor), I was very motivated to strike it on my own.

I then read The Four-Hour Workweek while in college and that opened my eyes to running location independent businesses. I owe my success to these two books as they have been the foundation of my business and career.

My favorite podcast has to be Tropical MBA by Dan Andrews and Ian Schoen. Love those guys.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

If there was one piece of advice I would like to share with budding entrepreneurs, it would be that don't wait for things to be perfect, just take the plunge and start today. Whether you have to work on the weekends for a side hustle or quit your day job to launch your startup, don't wait for the stars to align, coz they never will.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always looking for excellent writers and editors. In addition, we are also recruiting for SEO roles. More details can be found below:

  1. Lead SEO with Experience Managing Content Sites
  2. On-page and Technical SEO Expert
  3. Chief Editor and Content Manager

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!