Tech CEOs got an exclusive, authentic look into the exit stories of TransLoc & Windsor Circle
Last week, tech CEOs gathered in RTP for CED's 'Exit Strategies' program to learn how to make the decision to sell and how to get the company ready. Doug Kaufman, CEO of TransLoc (acquired by Ford), and Matt Williamson, CEO of Windsor Circle (acquired by Output Services Group), each shared their exit stories including advice and lessons learned along the way. They also participated together in a conversational Q&A. Following up the CEOs, Dave Clement, Business Law & Technology Attorney at Smith Anderson, presented information on "How Not to Stage Your Company for an Exit".
Here are a few key takeaways that emerged during the exit stories from Doug & Matt:
- Always be developing your people. Potential acquirers find value in your leadership team and look for complementary alignment between their team and yours.
- It’s never too early to nurture a relationship with a potential acquirer. Purposefully keep conversations and buzz going with them. And on the other hand, don’t ever burn a bridge.
- Inbound interest is almost all BS. Ask these questions early: “Have they done acquisitions before and, if so, any in your space?” You cannot waste your time going down a rabbit hole with a nonsense opportunity. It takes a lot of experience to weed them out. If you get approached by the product people, get an NDA signed and make sure their strategy is first to talk to customers and validate success. If they start with demo/review of tech stack, that's a red flag.
- Know your "walk away" points. As you go through the deal, decide when and where to draw the line. This better allows you to step away when needed.
- Deals die at any moment, at any time, for any reason you can imagine. Even just lack of momentum can kill the deal. Note: If your business plateaus during the deal, your valuation is going down.
- Be careful about going “all in”. Give yourself an option if the deal doesn’t work.
- Founder depression is a real thing. After an acquisition, expect to struggle with "what do I do now". Prepare by making sure you have something else meaningful that is happening in your life before, during, and after the deal.
View Doug's Full Presentation for more.
Agenda and speaker bios: CED Exit Strategies
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