At 22, while most college students are cramming for final exams, Khuram Dhanani was flying into San Francisco to negotiate the sale of his e-commerce company, ZQ Network. The company was growing quickly, generating millions of dollars in revenue and had sought-after assets in multiple niche markets.
A previous competitor tells me, "He's a formidable opponent. He had his hands in virtually everything: Gift Baskets, Power Equipment, Fitness Gear, Baby Products, Wedding Supplies, and more. His execution is extraordinary."
Dhanani quickly learned what Wall Street has known for a long time: splitting up the company and selling off individual assets is the best way to maximize shareholder value. After some shrewd negotiations with multiple strategic buyers, the company was successfully sold for a much higher multiple. However, he wasn't done yet, this businessman was just getting started.
Having made millions of dollars at such a young age, I ask him why he has no desire to splurge on fancy toys. "It's mainly because of my mother's immigrant upbringing. I'm very frugal. It's been a struggle, a lot of hard work." Dhanani said in an interview last week. "I continue to be very driven. I don't think that drive will ever go away."
Two years later, he's sitting across the table from a former public company CEO in a luxurious mahogany crafted boardroom. The reason? Another deal. A Chicago investor group had flown into Atlanta on the red-eye to finalize their purchase of Clear Spark. While he had retained a large brokerage firm, he decided to push them away and handle all the negotiations himself.
His company, Clear Spark, was one of the fastest growing B2B e-commerce companies in the United States market. The company had secured very profitable partnerships with fifteen of the largest internet retailers in the world. Two weeks later, it ended up taking an all-cash offer from a Chicago investor group and the transaction successfully closed in February.
These days, Khuram Dhanani is working on his biggest deal yet, Linked. Linked will be a platform company to make acquisitions in the fragmented trillion dollar e-commerce industry. "There is a huge opportunity to build a portfolio of niche brands, B2B suppliers, and consumer companies through acquisitions. I have great respect for what Martin Franklin has done. We are looking at the SPAC structure and private equity. The platform model is perfect for these industries."
Dhanani's timing couldn't be better. According to estimates, combined B2C and B2B e-commerce sales in the U.S. will top $1 trillion in 2015. The accomplished businessman has an eye for spotting good deals, he's a shrewd negotiator, and has an impressive track record. But can he build a billion dollar platform company? I wouldn't bet against him.