Discover more from Newsletter Circle
Duuce by Kévin Jourdan
"I do believe that in a couple of years, we’ll see newsletters being traded on a more frequent basis. Until then, business is in educating and providing tools to grow and monetize newsletters."
Learn the secrets of successful newsletters with Newsletter Circle!
👉 Every Sunday, you will read an exclusive interview with a successful newsletter creator and learn how to start, grow and monetize your newsletter.
The newsletter industry is experiencing significant growth, driven not only by the increasing number of newsletters but also by the emergence of innovative platforms and tools.
One such unique initiative is Duuce, which was established in 2019 as the first dedicated marketplace for buying and selling newsletters.
Despite its relatively short existence, Duuce has already undergone two acquisitions. Most recently, DotMarket, the final owner of Duuce, sold the platform to The Wisdom Group last month.
With The Wisdom Group actively acquiring various newsletters and newsletter-related projects, this recent acquisition of Duuce generated excitement among the newsletter community.
In order to gain a deeper understanding, I had the opportunity to interview Kévin Jourdan, the co-founder of DotMarket. During our conversation, we discussed:
Why they acquired Duuce in the first place
How they improved Duuce’s business model and boost growth
Why they decided to sell it eventually
Behind the scenes of the recent acquisition process
Kévin’s thoughts about the future of the newsletter marketplace
As Kévin highlighted, newsletters are increasingly recognized as valuable assets that are capturing the attention of a growing audience. While the market for trading newsletters is still relatively small, its potential for expansion is vast. So it is crucial to educate and equip newsletter creators with the necessary tools to foster growth and monetization.
Let’s dive into it!
🏷 NEWSLETTER/PLATFORM IDENTITY CARD
🛠 Tool Stack
Design → Canva
Team Communication → Slack
👋 MEET THE CREATOR / FOUNDER
Welcome Kévin. Let’s start with getting to know you.
Heya Çiler. I come from the affiliate marketing industry. I started as an account manager for a weight loss company, then an online casino one, before making the switch to becoming an affiliate marketer / SEO website editor myself.
Over the years, I've built several 6 figures websites in various niches (health, pets, dating..). In 2020, I co-founded DotMarket.eu & Below50.eu with Mayane Guez, which is, as we speak, the biggest group of digital business brokerage platforms on the French market, with 400 vetted deals listed per year.
Later on, we acquired Duuce.com, which we recently sold back in order to re-focus on our core business & markets.
What is Duuce all about?
“Duuce is the very first marketplace entirely dedicated to buying and selling newsletters.“
It was founded by Jonas Sluijs back in 2019. We took over in 2021 and transformed it from an open marketplace to a vetted one.
What was the business model?
We turned off the subscription-based model and switched to a success fee paid by the seller. This allowed us to gain in quality and increase revenues as bigger newsletters started being added after we ran proper due diligence.
Why did you acquire Duuce in the first place?
“Acquiring Duuce was a great way for us (DotMarket) to step into the US market, focusing on a very specific asset.“
We didn’t want to go to war with the big names out there :)
But as a big fan of newsletters (I run one myself), we had the taste of getting there and working on a digital asset we believe will keep gaining momentum.
How did you find the newsletters for sales to be listed on Duuce?
“The deal flow was already “there”. What we changed when taking over was the filtering system. That definitely had an impact on the volume at first.”
We needed some time to adjust the due diligence process and figure out which newsletters we really wanted to list and at what price!
Previously, anyone could show up and list a newsletter, pick a price and wait for offers.
“We’ve seen how that pans out for other marketplaces and decided we wanted to bring Duuce in another direction and make it a properly vetted place for buyers to find quality newsletters listed at market prices.”
While we figured that out, we started engaging more with our user database and leveraging the social presence to grow our list of potential buyers…and sellers!
How did you continue growing? What were the most effective growth strategies?
Believe it or not, the most effective channels were .. SEO (despite a very low volume, being #1 definitely helps!) and word of mouth! Later on, we launched our very own newsletter.
"But at first, SEO and word of mouth were the two keys to attracting business.”
Lucky for us, Jonas had done that work for us. So we benefited from the organic growth on our main sales intent keywords.
You also started a newsletter at some point. How did it contribute to Duuce’s journey?
There we go! Running a newsletter brokerage platform without having your own newsletter. Duh! We needed one, obviously :) So we launched one!
“It certainly helped grow our reach but also had an impact on our authority.”
Yep, it’s a fairly obvious “hack,” but running a weekly or bi-monthly newsletter WILL build your authority. If the content is great enough, obviously… We saw that happening in France for DotMarket’s newsletter and we were fairly confident we could get the same impact for Duuce. And we did.
We leveraged our user database to launch and quickly grow it to 1500+ subscribers.
The performance of Duuce at the time of the acquisition:
How many newsletters were listed for sale?
At the time of the acquisition, we were receiving an average of 4-5 newsletters for sale per month. Only a couple of those would hit the market after running due diligence.
I believe 5 newsletters were up for sale when we decided to sell. And a couple more in the diligence stages.
How many newsletters are sold?
We had an average of 1 sale per month in the past 6 months of activity, with the growing volume of newsletters submitted and shorter sales delays. Yet, this was too “slow” for us. Which led to an easy decision when selling became an option. More on that later :)
What was the monthly revenue?
I’ll have to stay confidential on that part, but I can tell you we were close to becoming break even on our running costs. However, to grow faster, we would have needed much heavier investments. But as we are growing (much faster) DotMarket in France and Europe, we had to make tough financial choices.
Did you buy Duuce to exit from the beginning? Why did you decide to sell?
We acquired Duuce to enter a market (US + Newsletters assets). We did vision a sale at some point but as part of a group (Duuce + DotMarket). Selling Duuce on its own became a strategic choice when the French + EU growth started making it hard for us to invest in both projects.
“Plus, watching this space grow confirmed we only had one choice: let Duuce be in the hands of a company that could heavily invest in it. Or let it get beaten by newcomers 🙂”
If you don’t mind sharing, could you please share the selling price of Duuce?
This part will also have to stay confidential.
“However, I can tell you that we doubled our purchase price and also retained an interesting % of the project with future options to sell at 6 figures.”
How did you make the valuation? What were the most critical metrics that were taken into consideration while agreeing on the price?
The valuation wasn’t and couldn't be fully based on profit.
“We agreed, with the buyer, to value both the brand and notoriety, the original traction and current growth, as well as the captured audience (1500+ qualified buyers profiles) and current deal flow.”
What would you do differently if you had a chance to start over?
I’d probably do what Scott and his amazing team at The Wisdom Group will do now! I would build a bigger ecosystem around Duuce. This market is booming. But the part where newsletters are being sold on a daily basis, like websites or SaaS, is not there yet.
To keep growing and actually generate profit, Duuce needed to be supported by a lot more “education” and tools.
“I do believe that in a couple of years, we’ll see newsletters being traded on a more frequent basis. Until then, business is in educating and providing tools to grow and monetize newsletters.”
So, if I had to do it all over again? I’d call Scott and copy his strategy :D
How did building Duuce contribute to your life professionally & personally?
It added a LOT to my already quite full plate! ;-)
Yet, it was a very exciting adventure. It allowed us to connect to awesome individuals we may or may not have met while working only on the French Market.
And well, new friends & partners will always be a great success in my eyes!
What was the most challenging part of building a marketplace for newsletters and how do you handle it?
The most challenging part, obviously, was to “create” a market. As mentioned earlier, buying and selling newsletters is not exactly today’s “trend.” So, there was and is, and will be, a lot more education to be made.
Now, educating a market requires resources—time, money and energy. We lacked a few of those ingredients as we are busy educating the French market on buying and selling websites already!
This is where I do believe a group like The Wisdom Group and its already-in-place network of newsletters, online training and tools will have a much greater impact on the market evolution!
How do you see the future of newsletters as assets?
I only see them growing!
People are getting tired of mass, redundant media content that is not personalized.
They want, we want, quality content matching our actual interest. I want to read stuff about stuff I'm interested in and need today. Newsletters bring that to me.
I see more and more media (re)launching targeted newsletters. Journalists launch their private substack so they can actually talk about what they are interested in (and not what’s gonna generate more clicks).
So, yeah, newsletters are probably going to keep evolving, but they are here to stay!
“And I can only see a market with more and more quality newsletters. Right now, there’s hype around the asset, but still, too few high-quality monetized newsletters out there. That will change as the market matures. And I'm excited to witness it!”
What are your favorite newsletters that you can’t wait for the next issue?
I recently subscribed to Why We Buy, so this is my latest favorite read because I'm still in the process of discovering it and benchmarking it (I love that).
Otherwise, I read a lot of newsletters about investment and marketing, but my favorite read of the day still is the sports news (French) 😀.
Thank you so much, Kévin. Thank you for your contribution to the newsletter business with Duuce. I’m also excited to witness newsletters evolving as valuable assets to trade.
It all just started!
🔗 Where to find Duuce and more on the acquisition
Subscribe to Duuce Newsletter
Kévin Jourdan LinkedIn
That’s all for today. Thanks for reading.
See you next week.
📌 P.S. I’ve switched from Substack over to Beehiiv (here). But don’t worry; you don’t need to do anything; I will manually add you to my Beehiiv list if you subscribe here. This is just for you to know :)
And don’t worry; you will receive the new issues only from “cilerdemiralp.beehiiv.com”, no duplications.