345. How to Maximize Return When Selling a Startup, Twitter’s Terms Battle, and Why MATH Ventures is Exiting Right (Mark Achler & Mert Iseri)

345. How to Maximize Return When Selling a Startup, Twitter's Terms Battle, and Why MATH Ventures is Exiting Right (Mark Achler & Mert Iseri)


Mark Achler & Mert Iseri of MATH Venture Partners join Nick to discuss How to Maximize Return When Selling a Startup, Twitter’s Terms Battle, and Why MATH Ventures is Exiting Right. In this episode we cover:

  • The FAIR Framework and How it Benefits Founders
  • Playing the Long Game to Leave a Legacy
  • Why We Don’t Talk About Exits.. Until Now

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Transcribed with AI:

0:02
Welcome to the podcast about venture capital, where investors and founders alike can learn how VCs make decisions and reach convictions. Your host is Nick Moran. And this is The Full Ratchet.
0:18
Mark Achler and Mert Iseri join us today from Chicago. Mark is the Managing Director and Mert is EIR at MATH Venture Partners. Prior to MATH, Mark was an SVP at Redbox, a founding partner at Kettle Partners, and co founded four companies. Before joining MATH, Mert was a serial entrepreneur and most recently, co founded SwipeSense, a healthcare technology platform that eliminates medical errors, and was acquired by SC Johnson in 2020. Together, they co authored Exit Right: How to Sell your Startup, Maximize your Return, and Build your Legacy: A book written to guide founders every step of the way from negotiation through to a successful exit. Today we will talk about the book and the recent news about their firm MATH Venture Partners, that revealed they do not intend to proceed with raising a fund three. More context on that in a bit here. With that, Mark and Mert, welcome to the show.
1:17
Great to be here.
1:19
Yeah, Nick, this is great. You know, longtime fan first time caller. Really excited for this conversation.
1:30
It’s so funny how many times we’ve crossed paths over the years. And this is the first time on the show. I do remember that. Your partner, Troy henikoff, who’s kind of a mainstay of Chicago tech. He was, I think, in the first 10 episodes. So this is like eight years ago. Full Circle, guys.
1:47
This is great. Yeah. So we’ve got a lot to talk about lot going on.
1:52
Okay, so let’s start out with quick backgrounds. Give the the audience some context here. Maybe we’ll start with Mert. Can you give us kind of the two minute background and path to venture?
2:01
Absolutely, born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. And I’m sure just like many of our listeners, you know, I had the candy racket in elementary school, like I was always working on some startup somewhere. You know, in high school, I sold T shirts. In college, I sold insurance. And after I graduated, it was very obvious what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a founder, I helped start a company with my two roommates called swipe sense, Chicago based healthcare technology company, aiming to reduce hospital acquired infections, which then grew to the safety platform for hospitals. We got to a successful exit. It was a long road, I’m excited to share more stories of like the lessons learned along the way. But join us e Johnson absolutely hated the large company life, I just realized, Oh, this is why I started a company. I did stay for about a year and a half. Look, I view the exit as sort of like a b2b sale, you want to make sure that the customer is happy. So I wanted to make sure the integration was done right. I left and joined mark on this wonderful adventure at MATH Venture Partners. Really, our relationship goes way back, you know, he was one of those Yoda figures for me when I was trying to figure out how to play with a lightsaber. He was the one who showed me like alright, this is this is how you do this. He was the he was the ally that I truly had on my corner along the way. And I’m eternally grateful for that. And we’re trying to project that forward with with exit, right. But that’s sort of my story. I’ve always been a fan of entrepreneurship. Always been a fan of founders and lo and behold, and that’s that’s the world I want to be for the rest of my life.
3:25
Well, and Mark has been the sage mentor for many in Chicago. Truly here certainly know him. I’m sure they know him across the country as well. But Mark, can you give us kind of your quick background and path to Vc?
3:35
Sure. But you know, be careful when you ask an old guy for his background. You know, I’ve been in tech since the beginning days. My dad and I started a an apple and IBM dealership computer retail store in 1980 1981. So I’ve been doing PCs since the birth of the PC, went to Apple. I was the worldwide introduction manager for the Apple to see in 1983 84 have some great Steve Jobs stories from back in the day. And then came back to Chicago because my wife said if you want to stay married to me, in Chicago. It makes it really simple family first and by the way, this this in a month is going to be our 40th wedding anniversary. So Wow. It worked out, came back to Chicago and became a serial entrepreneur. I started my first company in 1986 took in venture capital in 87 when there was not a venture capital industry when maybe there were 20 VCs in the entire country. But I was able to raise money start a company built the second product ever for Windows 1.0 was really really early the first object oriented programming language for a PC. So that company is semantic and ended a series of companies I had entered my next company was an educational software company, the company after that, which failed miserably, by the way, because timing matters, and we were a little bit early, and then had a game company that was started in August, and we sold it in May, we were soft bank, second acquisition, the United States, that’s a great story. And then started cattle Venture Partners in the.com days. And so I have, you know, we had two funds. The first fun was during the.com growth. And that was a lot of fun. And we had a couple of companies go public. And then the second fund, we closed in January of 2000. That was not so much fun. I’m proud to say that 12 years later, we ended up being in the top quartile for our vintage year of venture funds, which means nothing. All that means is that we were in the black and we got I had another company, a healthcare company, that was my biggest success. And then the weird thing. When I was 50 years old, I took a job. This is in 2008, with Redbox and I became one of the earlier employees and became the head of innovation and the head of marketing and help take them from you know, growth stage and getting it up and off the ground to a couple billion in revenue and 1/3 of all US households renting from us, we went from zero to 2 billion in revenue in five years. And
6:41
like to fast ramp I loved
6:43
that experience, I learned so much about how to grow and scale a company. And then when the when that ran its course, I ended up starting MATH Venture Partners with my partner, Troy henikoff. And we added our third partner data, right. And our investment, you know, we’re early stage tech investors. And our investment thesis is really centered around companies who know how to sell who have an unfair advantage in customer acquisition. We think that most companies and most entrepreneurs are really smart. But we have a saying the greatest product in the world without customers is a great product. But it’s not a business. And so that’s that’s the short version.
7:33
Cool. So you know, I want to talk about exits. And in a previous life, I was in the m&a world. And so, you know, we’ve got a lot of curveballs for you guys today. But before we get their mark, on July 19, you published an article titled The Future of MATH, which revealed that you will not raise a fun three. This came as a surprise, and honestly a bit of a shock to me and many others in the ecosystem here. Why the decision not to raise a new fund?
8:04
Well, first of all, we always put the interests and needs of our LPS first. The LPs are our limited partners, the people who give us money, as you know. And we are looking at the environment, raising capital in these market conditions have been a little bit harder than we expected. And we got about halfway through to our goal. And we just decided that it wasn’t in the best interest of our LPs to do a smaller fund. It’s not something that we wanted to sign up for. It still wasn’t good, sounds fun. But it wasn’t what we had anticipated for our third fun, and we didn’t think it made sense, the model made sense. And we always lead from a position of integrity and doing the right thing. And we felt that that was the right thing to do for our LPs and we felt that it was an honest assessment of the reality in the marketplace. You know,
9:01
Mark, it seems like most firms that decide not to raise new funds tend to sort of fizzle out over time. You know, they don’t do an announcement, you know, some years can go by before you figure out that a firm has decided not to raise new funds. First of all, I applaud the fact that you guys, you know, are so to speak, exiting, right and announcing, you know, publicly what the plans are in the strategic direction for MATH. Why the decision, though, to announce this instead of just you know, slow down and let things kind of run course.
9:32
Well, the question is, who do we serve? So we serve our LPs. And we also serve the entrepreneurs that we partner with over time, and there are firms rightfully so that you point out, I think of like zombie firms, you know, they’re really not investing, but they’re single is still out there and they’re talking to entrepreneurs and maybe a hope that a year from now or two years from now, the market conditions will be different. You When I don’t think they’re being honest with the entrepreneurs or with themselves, and they’re not being transparent, and we felt it wasn’t in service to the entrepreneurial community to not be open, and we don’t want to lead anybody on. And we always try to lead once again, from a position of giving back and helping, and if we’re not going to help, I mean, so let me be very clear, we have 50 portfolio companies that are active in MATH. Troy, Dana and myself, the general partners of MATH for the next 10 years, plus, we are going to be sitting on boards, we’re going to be actively managing the MATH portfolio, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure that MATH turns out to be a top quartile producing fund. And at the same time, while we may not be actively investing, we’re always if you know, Troy and Dana and myself, like a day doesn’t go by that we’re not going to be helping entrepreneurs, coaching, mentoring, being a friend giving them you know, the honest feedback that very few people will give. And now actually, it’s even a little bit easier because it takes off the pressure of are they going to be an investor. And now we can just as we always do. So we lead from a place of giving back, and openness and transparency. And and that’s why we announced it. I would also say that we also wanted to send the message to the industry at large too, which is relationships matter, relationships matter over time, and we wanted to model behavior of what we felt was the right thing to do.
11:48
Well, many have described you as a class act, that may be the understatement of the year. But you know, appreciate all the transparency. And Mark, is this the last we’ve heard of Mark Acker, the investor? Will we hear from you again?
12:01
No. Well, I am sure that Troy and Dana will continue to be investing in some way shape form or another. You know, I’m 64. And a venture fund is a 10 year commitment. Plus, I don’t think I’m going to be a GP, like this might be my swan song in terms of being a GP. But that said, as an angel investor, or maybe as an advisor to other venture funds, you know, if I can help in some way, shape, fashion or form, I will. Wonderful, wonderful.
12:40
Well, back to why we’re here. So you know, back to the book, and the topic at hand, I can tell by the title alone, that this was written for founders, which is great, because founders need a lot of help with this. And there’s there’s a lot of sort of potholes and challenges that they can run into along the way. You know, first things first, the book apply to both venture funded startups as well as those that have not secured venture financing.
13:05
Yeah, sure. So the answer is, yes. And yes. And the question you didn’t ask is, you know, many people think that this book is written for founders when they’re ready to sell their business. And it is, I mean, there’s, that’s why we wrote the book. But it’s the decisions you make at the beginning of your journey, actually have an outsized impact at the end of the journey. And there’s a lot of things
13:32
such as what Mark, give us give us some thoughts on that? Well,
13:36
who you give equity to? Do you give equity to co founders does that the co founders equity vest, like the dead equity on the cap table? Do you give equity to advisors? When you raise money, we’re very respectful, we know how difficult it is to raise money. But as you know, well, not all VCs are created equal. There are some great VCs who add a ton of value. And there are some VCs, who I would never want to be on a cap table with ever again. Right? So. So who you bring into your cap table makes a huge difference. And one of the things that we talk to entrepreneurs about is at the end of the day, there’s something as you know, well, there’s a waterfall distribution of proceeds, which is it’s just a simple way of a complicated way of saying something simply which is who gets
14:36
what they’re in for and when, right and when
14:39
or and of course, right. So there’s, there’s X amount of money to share. There’s different classes of shareholders, what are the different classes of shareholders receive and when do they receive it? And the question I asked to entrepreneurs is, okay, when it’s when it’s time at the very end, when there’s a waterfall are what are the common shares worth? And so those decisions you make at the beginning, and there’s a lot in the book about those early days, too. So it’s not just the wisdom that we collected at the end. It’s also the wisdom that we collect that have an important impact at the beginning of the journey as well. And Mert, why don’t you talk about how the book came to be? Because I think as a really important part of that question.
15:28
Well, first of all, our starting point was, you know, we sort of asked founders how, how they what they currently get advice on on the exit and sort of like, you know, folktales, you know, one founder has sold, the company tells it to the, the next generation of Laval, here’s how it happened to me, it’s sort of like this, like passed down, you know, Whisper, whisper game, everybody’s sort of like, passes along the stories. But it was really missing a core component, which is that’s a, that’s a single perspective, sort of, like the founders view into how it all happens. So we thought that was incomplete, because one, there’s so many stakeholders, not just even the founder, your board, your team, your co founders, like everybody from the sell side of, you know, your, there’s a lot of perspectives there. But also on the buy side, there’s a whole team dedicated to buying companies, when there’s a CEO, there’s the CFO, there’s that a product, but there’s so many competing priorities from the buy side as well. And we really wanted to get a 360 view of not just folks who are buying and selling, but also folks all around us, the investment bankers, the m&a lawyers, and we wanted to get all their perspectives. We the core of our question that we asked everybody was what do you know, now that you wish you knew 10 years ago, if you were giving advice to not just sort of a friendly founder, but to your own kid, you know, imagine like, this is the real advice like Don’t Don’t, don’t pull any punches give us the real nuggets of wisdom. And what emerged sort of as a sort of collection of stories that almost like shift perspectives, you know, it’s we’re looking at the same thing. But it all looks different from different angles. And so as a result of that, one of the really like wonderful, humbling things that happened as a result of this is, we’re starting to get, you know, sort of like requests from folks that are from larger companies like like Pinterest, or Google, where they’re essentially passing the book on to their head of heads of product, and basically saying, hey, think about m&a with this sort of way of framing, because you want to understand, you know, this whole process, but not just from the big company side, but also from the, from the smaller side, from the from the entrepreneurs perspective. So that’s been really, really gratifying for us that we didn’t sort of just say, hey, founders read this. We’re the ones to create this, like 360 view of, you know, how this whole thing emerges? Sure, I sort of probably one of the largest decisions that a founder ever gets to make in their in their lifetime.
17:33
Well, it’s, it’s hard to maximize the outcome if you don’t understand all the stakeholders and their various precise laissent motivations and incentives.
17:41
Yeah. And so the journey, you’re absolutely right. And so we’re huge believers in empathy. And the journey of this book was Mert was going through a transaction. And it, it was a difficult transaction. There are a lot of ups and downs, there’s an emotional arc. Most transactions have that most transactions. It’s not a smooth line, the vast majority of transactions. There are days where the transactions hanging on the precipice and while I was not in MATH was not an investor in Mert’s company. Both Troy and I were his go to mentor mentors. You know, I’d get the phone call that talk Mert off the ceiling. Like, okay, got it. Like here. Here’s what we do now. And when it was all over when the transaction concluded, which by the way, concluded in March of 2020. So right before COVID Murten I were having a coffee right before COVID shut everything down. And Mert is just bitching. Like
18:51
what I said merch, I said first Dude, this is a joyous moment, like you just you just nailed it. Right? Like, this is great, we should be celebrating. And in the spirit of giving back. You’ve won, you should go into the relationship with your new company with a good like you owe it to them to have a healthy attitude and point of view and perspective. And like, let’s let’s clean the slate. And to give back. You should write it down while it’s still fresh in your mind, everything that you went through, so that the next time they buy the next company, you can say hey guys, this is what I went through. Here’s how we can make it better. And outpoured for you know, page after page of notes. And I looked at that and I said Mert. You know, there, there are tons of books out there for entrepreneurs about how to raise money, how to start a company culture, sales, marketing, HR, like every topic under the sun. Yeah, there’s very few books out there about egg Since and part of the reason is, exits are confidential, you know, we signed confidentiality agreements. And if it’s a good exit, people don’t want to brag if it’s a bad exit, they might be embarrassed. They don’t want to talk about it. Yeah. And so it’s kind of a taboo subject. And we realized, like, we need to shine a light and bring all this collected wisdom, that was murk talked about folklore. So we interviewed dozens of CEOs. And we got great stories and some really good lessons learned. And we interviewed corp dev leaders at all the big tech companies, and we interviewed m&a attorneys and bankers. And like, this book was such a joy to write.
20:50
And so amazing Mert, you’re you’re a brave soul, you know, when never wants to violate the earn out with specifics. And I’m sure you’ve walked the line well, but you know, Mark talked a bit before about, you know, you got to plan this from the beginning. And think about, you know, Cap structure and advisors and all these different players that are a part of your business. If we move forward to like seed stage, I see this happening often. But you know, many times strategics will get involved very early on in a startups life, they may be customers, channel partners, or see the startup as maybe a threat or an opportunity. And if we, you know, assume that this startup in this anecdote is at the seed stage that taking some funding, and now a potential acquirer is expressing interest in investing, you know, they want to see under the hood, they want to do some deep diligence. What would your advice? And what thoughts can you give for the founders out there to kind of navigate these situations?
21:44
Number one, I’m of the philosophy that if an early stage strategic is going to get involved early on, they should be a customer, or a channel partner, they should help you sell more of your stuff. But the second you make them on your cap table, all sorts of competing incentives start coming into play. So the first answer is, can we just actually start structured relationship, that just means more sales for us, we always want more sales, we always want more customers, how do we frame a relationship that allows us to deliver more impact for our customers, that’s what I want to solve for first got it. But in the event that we want them as a Masters, or maybe they start digging in, and they want to do more, I always want to have more than one, I’m a big believer in if we are going to have a strategic, That better not be the only strategic that we’re working with. Because inherently, we want to have some sort of competitive nature, that allows us to sort of like play these relationships off of each other. The playing field is not level, a giant company has way longer of a time horizon has way more resources, and frankly, can afford to waste a whole lot more time than you can. And the reality is as a startup that is flattering. You know, this large company, oh, my gosh, they’re interested, I’m so humbled. Everything in my life sucks. You know, my customers aren’t paying me my payroll is through the roof. My runway is getting shorter. As a startup founder, life is tough. And here is this beacon of hope, like, Oh, my goodness, they’re interested, oh, yes, they like me. You know, it’s it’s such a good feeling. I know, like, I felt that feeling myself, but always bring it back, lets us help further the mission. This is how our customers like, if it’s not doing that, then there’s a very good chance that this is just a good feeling and sort of a mental escape for you than from your very real startup problems, and nothing more. And this is something that I wish I could just, you know, tattoo on every founder, because I know how real the feeling is. I know how amazing sort of like that potential exit sort of just feels like when there are real problems to be resolved. But we have to sort of stay on tempted to stay focused on the mission
23:41
100%, I had a founder seed stage founder very early get emailed by two CEOs of major multinational directly from the CEO, and he was calling me he’s like, Nick, you know, oh, my God. I do. But, you know, it begs the question, is there any circumstance where an early stage startup should take funding from a potential acquirer?
24:03
Well, of course, but with caveats. So for example, it’s always revenue is always better than equity. And distribution is way more important than equity. But if there is equity, one of the challenges also is a right of first refusal. So as a VC, Nick, you know, one of the things that VCs are particularly sensitive to is when strategic investors have the inside track having a legal written right of first refusal to purchase a company. For me as a V as an investor, that’s almost death’s door, we won’t invest because it will, by its very nature limit the potential of the exit, right. But before we talk about that, let’s actually peel it back just for one second. We built a framework that we call fair fit alignment integration and rationale. And Mert, I’d love for you to sort of go through that framework because that framework is also really helpful in terms of how do you begin the process of building a relationship with a strategic. And one of the things that we talk a lot about in the book is trust. That trust is the lubrication that helps deals get through to conclusion. And when we talk to corp dev leaders from all the major tech companies, they all said exactly the same thing, which is, we love to, to acquire companies where we already know them have an existing relationship and when there is trust. And so building that relationship is also an important building trust is also an important part of that equation. So Marie, why don’t you take us through fair?
25:54
Absolutely. You know, who you should sell your company to is perhaps sort of a limited way of like asking this question, it really is like, who’s the right partner that is going to go the longest distance with you. So we want to take this as a case by case basis with Should we take funding from a strategic Well, I can think of an example where it was a fantastic outcome, flatiron health got acquired by Roche natten, Zakka, two founders that I really, really look up to Roche was a strategic investor in flatiron health that led to the exit by Roche and tubulin exit, and everybody was happy. But what made that relationship really special was if you look back and sort of again, peel back the onion is that some key components of like how this whole thing came together? So we wanted to provide this resource for for founders that sort of allows them to put a lens on to ask themselves, is this the right partner? Is this the right long term person for me to go to this as with, and we call this framework fair, it’s four elements. F stands for fit. A stands for alignment, AI stands for integration, an R stands for rationale. And if you happen to have all four of these elements, you just have have also found the person who’s willing to pay most for your business, the person who is going to create the most impact that with your business long term, which can translate to a better price. So fitness, cultural fit, do we get along? Can I sit next to this person on a plane? And you know, have a great time in the end of this? Do I admire their brand? Do I admire the way they treat their customers? Very, very hard to tell short term super easy to figure out long term for your culture allow aligned? Second alignment? are we aligned internally with our stakeholders where we want to go? But is the acquiring company aligned with where we want to go? Are we looking in the same direction? Not either i but in the same direction? Three, integration
27:38
work before you go to three, I just have to one editorial comment on alignment, particularly in this world that we live in today. When different classes of shareholders have different financial motivations, we get out of alignment. And what we’re seeing in the past few years, Nick, when term were valuations weren’t tethered to underlying economic reality, when terms were really founder friendly, we oftentimes would see deals where the founder came out great, but the investors did not meet their objectives. The same is about to happen in the reverse. We’re starting to see much more onerous terms valuations are coming down terms we’re seeing participating preferred 2x 3x 4x, multiple reference that dividends that are a much higher dividends. The whole point being is that once again, when there’s a waterfall distribution, different it’s a different classes of shareholders have fundamentally different motivators, right and motivations, if things get out of whack. So alignment is really much more important than people realize. So sorry, I didn’t mean to
28:58
interrupt incentive alignment between founders and investors, but also between investors I think is is part of the message here. Yeah, for sure. Absolutely. Especially because I think what Mark you’ve just highlighted is that, you know, in a bull market, certain terms are inherited in a bear market, there could be different terms. And if those things are in conflict, creates all sorts of unintended consequences.
29:21
Yeah, you know, I’ve lived through down markets I’ve lived through the.com days and Oh, eight and, and I’ve seen like, I’m a sort of a centrist. I like it when classes a shareholders are not 100% aligned, but aligned enough so that we our interests are relatively the same. Our motivations are relatively the same. And I’ve seen, you know, back in the day when the VCs when money gets tight, and the terms get, the VCs want their pound of flesh, and the terms get really onerous, and that’s about that’s happening now. The VCs think that oh, this is great for me. I’m Gotta make more money. But the truth of the matter is that when you’re really out of whack when the alignments are out of whack when the financial incentives, bad things happen, right, so different anyway. So fair
30:13
alignment, back to fair,
30:15
back to fair
30:16
thought elements integration, how these companies come together. And then finally, the rationale is good. Why are we in the room to begin with? What is the overall objective that we’re working towards accomplishing that the two sides couldn’t have accomplished on their own? So in a financing situation, from a strategic, I would want to ask, is this still fair? And not fair? Isn’t that are they paying, you know, the right amount? But is it fair that we fit? are we aligned? Is there a plan for these things to come together? Is there a rationale? If we ask these tough questions, and these are questions that don’t make it into the term sheet? These are questions between parties, you know, these are, Hey, are we partnering on this journey together? And it’s questions that founders unfortunately avoid or don’t even know to ask to begin with, because it’s so exciting to even like, get this kind of like validation to begin with. But we always want to circle back into, you know, the fair framework with an eye towards impact towards customers with an eye towards impact with an eye towards realizing something that we couldn’t have done by ourselves. And as long as it’s fair, we think is fantastic. You obviously have more than one party ensure that you’re protecting the rights of all your shareholders, that this isn’t the limit your long term prospects. Obviously, if you’re single down to a single buyer, as a result of this relationship, it’s negative. But ultimately, founders can find their way out as long as there’s a true rationale that we’re working towards. And
31:32
to that point, the rationale is sort of the Jedi mind trick, which is going back to empathy, understanding the larger acquiring company, what’s important to them? What are their KPIs? What right, you know, what are they what are they measuring? How is the impact of your company product people? Was it going How’s one plus one equal 100? Right. And the more you understand that, and every time you have the opportunity to meet with a potential strategic over the course of years and time, it’s an opportunity to both provide thought leadership. But it’s also an opportunity for you to ask a lot of questions and to learn when the strategic direction they’re going to and helping them together build a rationale. You know, Mert you like to use the example of checkout software? Why don’t you Why don’t you give that as an example?
32:31
Well, if the oil company wants to buy your house, it ain’t because of the countertops. Find the oil, you know, like, we need to understand that, you know, when a venture fund wants to invest in your startup, the rationale is very straightforward. We want to make more money later on. When the company when a strategic wants to invest, there’s oil. And it’s not just we want to make more money down the road, we want to know the real strategic rationale, is think about a fictional example here. Let’s say we have a software startup that improves checkout rates in abandoned shopping carts is a known problem in E commerce. Everybody has some sort of like abandoned cart problem. If you improve this by 1%, that’s valuable, you might get some SAS revenue as a result of sin. Let’s say you have a million dollars as a result of this. Congratulations, SAS companies sell for 810 times forward looking revenues. Congrats. Is this company really worth eight to $10 million worth of shopping was Shopify was buying it? What’s 1% checkout improvement rates for Shopify worth? what’s that worth for Amazon? You know, we have to sort of ask this, not just from what we’ve done in the past, here’s our revenue and a multiple on that, we have to build this rationale with what we can do with the acquiring company. If the acquiring company if the oil company wants to buy your house, find where the oil is, this is where it really truly what this comes down to and the strategic investment. It’s exactly the same. We want to find out why. Why are you doing this? It’s not just because I have a big moustache and nice glasses. It’s there’s rationale here that impacts your core KPIs that I want to understand that reason why if you do then you’re on the right track. If you don’t, you’re running blind.
34:00
So again, it’s really hitting home for me, you know, back from my old days in m&a, you know, part of it is this discovery exercise. Yeah, for the company, right to figure out the motivations of the potential acquirer. And then part of it is figuring out where are the gaps? Where do they need to go? And then you kind of paint this future reality of how your startup is the ideal. That’s it sort of future real. What would the difference be in a strategic acquisition versus a financial? Are there different ways that founders should think about financial buyers versus strategic buyers?
34:35
Well, to me, the first question is what is the best home? I we think of CEOs as servant leadership, and they serve their customers, they serve their employees, they serve their strategic partners. And, you know, how could How can we create the most value? Maximizing a number is One way, right, and there’s multiple types of exits you you’ve mentioned two of them. But before we talk about that, let’s actually wind it back just a little bit, we have this concept of an annual exit talk that most of the time for in our industry CEOs, it’s kind of taboo. CEOs don’t like to talk about exits, because if they talk about exits to their investors in their board, maybe the perception is their heart’s not in it anymore. They’re up. And maybe it’s time to replace the CEO, there’s a threat. And because of that, CEOs are very reluctant to have the deeper strategic conversation. We think that’s wrong. We completely disagree with that, fundamentally, we think there should be an annual exit talk, maybe the first board meeting of the year, it’s regularly scheduled, where the CEO is completely free, and it’s anticipated that they’re going to hit we’re going to collectively as a board, have the strategic, not the tactical, the strategic conversation of where are we is, you know, are we still having aggressive year over year growth or sales starting to slow down? Is the technology still cutting edge? Or is it starting to get a little bit older? Are we starting to see market share, erode? Or competition coming up? Or, you know, a great forcing question is, hey, there’s still more growth, but VCs, you know, we’re going to need to do another round, are you in right at like, are you going to continue to fund us, because you see that growth with us. And if the we create an environment where there it can have an open and transparent and strategic conversation. And by the way, it’s not just the CEO, Nick, as you know, well, VCs have life cycles. So if we’re into year one of a fund, it’s great. You know, let’s go, let’s go put your foot down and grow. If it’s your 10, or 12, of a VC funds investment. Well, hey, the clock’s ticking, and our LPS wanting to get their money back? Sure, we might feel we might feel differently about when the exit should come. Right. And VCs, we don’t talk to each other that often about, hey, where are you in your fund cycle? You know, what do you need. And so by having this conversation, on an annual basis, one, it gets rid of the stigma, to it does a better job of aligning all parties. And three, it gives you the luxury of time. And the luxury of time, if you know that, hey, two years from now is probably going to be the right time to sell or a year and a half from now. What that does, is you say like, okay, who’s the most likely buyer, and why is the most likely buyer going to be a strategic buyer. And if it is, you probably know the three or five most likely candidates, and what do they care most about. So for example, if they care most about top line growth, well, you could sort of juice you know, spend a little bit more money on sales and marketing. And really, you know, focus on top line growth. If they care about your IP, it gives you know, you can get your intellectual property house in order your deal room in order and cleaned up. And you can make sure that all the IPS, all the employees have signed their IP assignments, that the trademarks have been filed correctly that patents have been filed appropriately as appropriate. If you think it might be a financial buyer is the most likely buyer. And maybe they care a little bit more about EBITDA, well, then you can tighten the screws on EBIT, da, and maybe you know cut spending a little bit focus more on profitability, if you think that that’s going to be the most likely acquirer and what they’re going to care most about. So by having this annual exit talk, it is an aligning function. And include by the way, when we talk to leaders of corp dev, we say why did we ask the question? Why do deals fall apart? They fall apart for lots of reasons. But one of the reasons they fall apart is a real sloppy data room where the the financial information is incomplete. Intellectual property information is incomplete to legal documents are filed appropriately. Right. So it gives you the luxury of time. And it gives you also the luxury to build relationships, Mert, what would you add to that?
39:35
Well, I believe that even the financial acquisitions, like say it’s a PE fund that’s acquiring the company. The best ones are strategic in nature. It’s part of a roll up, oh, we’re putting these five companies together and as a result of that is going to be more valuable. There’s strategic rationale that goes into that, even if it’s a financial buyer, and your company is going to be worth more because it’s plugging that strategic hole in that roll up environment. So So the more strategic, the better it is. And I mean, when I say better, it just means that you’re going to get a better outcome, you’re gonna maximize your return. And more importantly, you’re going to build your legacy. Because the dream here isn’t to just pass a hot potato on to the next buyer. The dream is to build something that lasts. The dream here is look back and say 10 years ago, we were we were in the start,
40:21
I like talking about these different types of buyers, right? Like, I remember from a story, there was a potential acquirer that was really focused on innovation, there was another one that was really focused on margin, there was another one that was just all about volume and top line, and this particular business, it could be a framing exercise and a positioning exercise, right, the business could be positioned as any of those three for any of those buyers, right, which, which helped in that case, you know, maximize exit potential, you know, I want to ask you guys, when a business feels like they’re ready to sell, so let’s say you’re doing the yearly reviews, and you’ve gotten to that point, for whatever reason, the business, you know, could be positioned for sale, you know, how does one, assuming they’ve built some trust, and they’ve done some exploration? How does one create interest scarcity and sort of mobilize a group of prospective buyers all at once?
41:14
Yeah, scarcity and urgency, one of my favorite words is how do you create a sense of urgency as well? That’s a great question before Before we answer that question, there’s one other point I want to make. We kind of glossed over integration. Integration is the ugly stepchild of merger of m&a. It’s always the thing that happens. Oh, yeah, we’ll deal with it afterwards.
41:41
I never did that part.
41:43
But, but integration is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle. Because if you don’t have a solid integration plan before a transaction, there are real financial consequences. So for example, any transactions, they have earnouts Yep, those earnouts are dependent on some kind of performance, performance metrics, right? Well, if you don’t get the resources necessary to the salespeople, or the, the programmers, or, you know, it’s not integrated into the acquiring company, or, you know, whatever, if that integration plan, or there’s no integration plan, and the cultures don’t work out correctly, there’s no real good leadership. And you lose your your team, your team just quits. Right? Right. It’s like, I really want to hammer home the importance in this fair framework, that don’t forget integration, forget integration,
42:48
or create so much competition for your company that you don’t have these performance elements tied here.
42:55
Right. So Nick, you ask the question, I’ll get back to your question. So you asked the question of like, Alright, how do you start a process? How do you create those relationships? And the first answer, hopefully, is the relation. You know, let’s split it between strategic and when financial. I’m the strategic side, hopefully, you already know the three to five, most likely strategic acquirers. And hopefully, you’ve started building those relationships ahead of time. And you’ve already started building trust, and you know, what’s important to them? And you can, you know, pick up the phone and say, Hey, I just got this inbound. We weren’t expecting it, but it’s making us sort of pick up our head and take a look. You know, maybe we should have a conversation, because I’ve got to respond to this other inbound request, and it’s making us think about it. So on the strategic side, hopefully, you already know the top, you already have a relationship with the most likely strategic buyers. On the financial side, most entrepreneurs don’t really have good relationships, in many cases with a fight with financial buyers. And that’s where a banker can certainly add value may Mert, you want to jump in on that?
44:22
Well, yeah, you don’t build a network when you need it. You know, like, ideally, you haven’t building up these relationships. And I want to make this very concrete for founders. When swipe since was getting acquired, we had two bids. Essentially, when when all the dust settled, we went out there and did a roadshow talk to a bunch of companies. But there were really like two serious companies that we were choosing between. One of them was one of our competitors that I met at a trade show and made the point of meeting once a year, you know, for the past like five years. The other one was a public company that I DM the CEO of again, like six seven years ago because I admired him The story of the founder, CEO of this public company, and I genuinely just wanted to get some advice from him, just like, hey, I love what you’ve built. You’re an immigrant. I’m an immigrant healthcare, healthcare, you care about patient safety, I care about patient safety, that’s really how our relationship started, I never really thought, Oh, they’re gonna buy my company one day, this was a real relationship that we cultivated. Now, sometimes founders will ask as well, you know, what am I supposed to share? Like, you know, I don’t want to give away my like, secret sauce with my startup with my competitors. That’s not what we’re advocating at all. What we’re basically saying is, rather than sharing your financials or your trade secrets, add value to the conversation, be a curious expert in the room that folks admire and want to build a relationship. And Mark has his wonderful three rules of empathy. And number one is, it’s not about you, it’s about them. Number two is do your homework. And number three is bring a gift, you know, you have to put the person that you’re building a relationship with from a strategic standpoint, in the forefront, it’s not about you and your priorities, it’s about how what you know, can add value to what they’re doing. And maybe there’s an industry trend that you’re an expert in, that you want to have a conversation on. But what we want to encourage founders to do is, look every 18 months, you’re totally okay with raising for three to six months, you know, you’re investing real time as the CEO, and that’s totally acceptable. And yet, we’re gonna be spending three to six days in cultivating relationships that ultimately might become the permanent home for your business, be the curious expert build that network over the years without giving you a confidential, confidential information. But by real adding tangible value to both sides, but being a known entity that’s going to pay back in spades, when the moment is right. And by the way, I have a very specific point of view on this year selling the company, whenever you want to sell your company, it’s about the founder, if the founder decides to sell, that’s ultimately all that matters, but founder decides to sell. That’s it. Obviously, there are factors that impact this decision. You know, there’s there’s a local maximum, we have more resource needs, there’s competitions that didn’t get up, we need to invest more in sales, whatever that is, there’s many factors that go into this decision. But when you made the call, you don’t want to pick up the phone and let someone know for the first time, by the way, we’re for sale, you want the call to go to someone that you’ve known for years that already trust and know that you’re the real deal that you are someone that can go to this with you, that makes such a huge difference in the bidding process. Because this, you know, Nick, you’ve been part of these processes kind of feels very transactional from time to time, like, oh, like, we’re going on a road show, we’re selling our company like all this, whatever,
47:23
it doesn’t feel real, are under the advisement of a banker can feel
47:26
oh, my God, it just feels so dirty. You know, and, and really, we don’t know, we don’t believe that’s the way to maximize value, the way to maximize that is by impact, the way you maximize value is by sort of looking at, hey, here’s the vision that we can build together. And you only uncovered that through time and trust. It’s not something to just sort of like shop around and go, oh, boy, look at this thing that we discovered. That’s just not realistic.
47:48
Yes. Just a quick point that Mark mentioned that I just wanted to re emphasize. It’s always good in a transaction, whether it’s a venture financing, or an acquisition, when there’s an external driver, you as the founder don’t have to say, hey, I really want to sell when you can go to somebody and say, Hey, we got inbound from this other party. You know, that’s the best one to have. You know, when it’s externally motivated, it’s just much more likely to drive some progress on that front. So you know, just quickly, are you guys pro banker, anti banker? Does, you know,
48:23
the answer? Banker, I guess. And it also depends on the circumstances and the size of the company merge. Go ahead.
48:33
The general rule of thumb is that the bigger the deal, the more useful bankers are. So as the dollar figures go up, then yeah, they do add a ton of value. And if there’s especially a competitive process, that you sort of want to shield yourself as the founder, and you know, we’re like, look, I want someone else to sort of be the representative in here, if there’s multiple parties that are bidding. They’re famous examples of bankers doing wonders. I mean, the WhatsApp acquisition happened because of a banker in Morgan Stanley, who, like wrote a memo, and like, purposely leaked it, to basically say, oh, what’s up is so so super valuable. And like, literally four bids came out of nowhere like Google, Facebook, but like a bunch of companies bid as a result of this memo. And guess who represented WhatsApp in the memo is the bank girl wrote the memo? Like, there are real case studies of like bankers adding a tremendous amount of value. But if you’re just using bankers as sort of like glorified, you know, like admins, like, oh, put together my data room and like, respond to some emails and do some outreach. For me, that’s an expensive proposition, especially if the the dollars aren’t there. If it’s a smaller in the teens, if you will, and the 3050 $70 million range, then you’re basically paying a huge tax on this exit, by doing stuff that you really should have been doing all along, like, you know, why pay someone forward to build a data room where you where you really should have been maintaining it all along. You know, that’s, that’s where we have a strong point of view. And it’s also very, very critical. A banker isn’t just going to magically sell your business like you need to have something worth buying. They’re there to sort of like do to make sure the i’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed. But I don’t believe that you can run a fundamentally on sound business without a rationale without alignment with integration, and a banker just comes out of nowhere and says, Ah, let me, you know, walk into the road to riches. That’s just like just just dreaming, that’s just not going to happen.
50:10
I mean to that, to that end, I’ve seen founders make the wrong decision on bankers that had the biggest promises. Yeah. But if they had done their research and the reference checks in there, you know, how much expertise do you have in this segment, and with these types of buyers? Probably would have gone a different direction. So be careful with the big promises as well,
50:28
totally, totally, for sure. And by the way, you know, everybody has a point of view and perspective. So when we talk to the leaders of corp dev, and we asked them about how do they feel about bankers, every single one, we hate bankers.
50:46
You see that a pro forma?
50:49
It all, it all depends upon the point of view. But in speaking of point of views from a VC point of view, there is one value that a banker does provide, which is we can go to all shareholders off, including pre, you know, older shareholders, common shareholders, and we can say, we ran a process, a thorough process, we did, you know, we solicited all the appropriate bids, and this was the best outcome. And we can point to the process as a way of limiting liability for from the VC perspective of a common shareholders saying he was an inside deal, you didn’t get a market rate.
51:33
Interesting. Okay.
51:36
It doesn’t happen a lot. But boy, it happens. For sure.
51:39
Let’s, let’s make sure we touch more on, you know, this phase that includes the transaction, you know, I’d love to hear your input, both on the negotiation piece, but also the valuation piece, right? Often, you know, for this podcast, and this audience, we’re talking about high growth technology companies, right? Anchoring price on EBITA and EBIT on multiples, you know, what forms the basis of much of this valuation negotiation? And, you know, what advice would you guys have for founders?
52:09
So, the first piece of it is, most transactions are based on a financial number, either its top line revenue, or its EBIT, uh, and looking at a financial number is looking backwards. That’s, that’s what you did in the past. That’s not what we could do in the future together. And by creating a rationale of how these two companies like the why these two companies, what happens when you take our product and put it into your customer base, or your sales team? And how does it impact? You know, Mert? Use the example of checkout software software. Let’s just use something retention. If if your product improves the retention rate of the larger company, acquiring companies customer, that value of the of the improved retention rate dwarfs, whatever the financial number is that you prove you did. And let me give you a concrete example. So we talked about my partner, Troy henikoff. So Troy had a little development to do dev shop back in the early 90s. And, you know, a small company, not a lot of employees, they built some a inventory management software for Hyatt, that they own the IP four, and they were pitching. Oh, Mark, what’s the company? The Medline? Medline? Thank you. They were pitching Medline to do some work for them and the CEO of Medline and they mentioned this inventory management software. And the CEO Medline says to try, oh, we want to buy you and try goes. I’m not for sale. And the end he came up with a number and try both. It’s very flattering, but no, thank you. And the couple of days later, it comes back with another number twice says no, thank you. Finally he comes back with a number like 5x Whatever his revenue was at the time, and Troy went 5x for a dev shop. Okay. And he sold this company and Troy thought he got the deal of the century that oh my god, these guys really overpaid. Why would they pay give me 5x For a dev shop? Well, what Troy didn’t understand was he didn’t ask the question of, well, why are you buying us? So it turns out, they took this inventory management software that Troy created, they modified it for hospitals, and they went to all of their existing customers and they said you currently have a one year contract with us. If you take that one year contract and you turn it into a three year contract. We will give you this inventory management software for free. In the first year, they generated an incremental 100 million dollars in revenue from that, that inventory management software over the course of five years, easily 500 million plus of incremental revenue. Now, what’s the multiple on med lines revenue? So, you gotta believe this was worth billions of dollars of value to Medline that they gave Troy, you know, 5x they’ve tried this.
55:42
That’s what we call an accretive acquisition.
55:47
And so understanding that rationale is really important. You know, like, the Instagram story.
55:57
Yeah, well, Facebook bought Instagram at the time for a billion dollars. And people thought Mark Zuckerberg was finally losing it. I mean, the company had just gone public, you know, he was like, Oh, look, this is like young CEO, overpaying for the startup, they stole it for a billion, you know, in 2021, Instagram drove 50% of Facebook’s ad revenue over like $20 billion. They stole it. It was an amazing, amazing acquisition, because they understood where the puck was going, they understood that folks, were going to be in mobile more so than they were going to be on their desktops. That’s truly sort of an example of why, you know, Instagram itself couldn’t have done the $20 billion, you know, in ad revenue, and Facebook alone couldn’t have done it themselves either. But together, they were able to create something magical. So our general advice for founders, when they’re sort of like thinking about oh, is this the right number is always to go back and say like, Well, how did we arrive at this number? If we arrived at the number based on your past valuation, what someone else is willing to pay for it? What you know, your multiple on your revenue, what have you, if it’s based on internal numbers, it’s likely underpaying it, if it’s based on what the acquiring company is going to do with you. It’s based on here’s how this impacts our KPIs. Here’s some facts that allows us to get to our five year vision, whatever the acquiring company wants to do that you’re enabling, then we have the clue on Yeah, that’s probably getting to about to the to the right number. That’s why it’s so unique. And that’s why these are built on trust over years.
57:17
One plus one equals 100. Right? Absolutely. You get in this industry. You know, just to kind of round out this discussion, are there any specific terms, maybe related to the earnout, you know, when a founder is actually commencing the deal, that could be hangups that you would highlight?
57:36
Well, the earnout is really a measure of how well the integration plan is built with, you know, if the, if the goals are realistic, if the milestones are within your forecast of what you believe you can do, then or not, so no problem go all day. But you also have to remember, as a founder, you lose a lot of leverage. Once you’re on the other side, you know, once you actually make it to the acquiring company, and you’re there, guess who controls your budget, it’s not you anymore, your resources are now going to be stapled to whatever the person that’s going to be ultimately approving this, and what their objectives, what their KPIs are. So that’s why we really, really emphasize, if there are earnouts, if there are milestones that are in the future, regardless of how realistic they are, we always have to put a magnifying glass on the plan of integration and the resources we’re going to have access to in order to enable those milestones and enable those future future value. Because otherwise, you’re just basically signing up for empty promises. What happens if the market downturns next year, you know, what happens if the sales aren’t where we need them to be for the parents company, I want to make sure that the dollars that are, you know, eligible for my own out are something that I truly can have, you know, reach for, and that the secret there isn’t sort of like shiny, here’s, you know, extra 100 million dollars, or whatever it is, it’s not about future promises. It’s about realistic paths of getting there and what sort of like resources you’re gonna have access to, you know, in the meanwhile. So it’s not a blank answer. But it’s really the core is the plan of integration.
59:05
And I would add that a really important piece of the puzzle is what goes into a term sheet and what goes in the final docs. And a lot of times larger companies will say, Oh, I’m going to write a one page term sheet, I’m going to write a two page term sheet, I’m going to make it really simple. And the only thing you should care about is the price. Like okay, the price is x. And the entrepreneurs, especially inexperienced entrepreneurs folk, Oh, great. The price is x. I’m going to sign the term sheet, and we’ll negotiate everything else in the final docs. Whoa, who’s writing the final docs? It turns out that it’s always the acquiring company that writes the docs and the attorneys for the final for the acquiring company. When something is unsaid in a term sheet. They are all He’s gonna write the language that favors the acquiring company. Of course, the minute you sign that term sheet, you, you don’t lose all your leverage, but you lose. Like most you lose, like 80% of your leverage. And so there’s elements in the term sheet that are usually silent, that we strongly encourage entrepreneurs to pay attention to, and actually negotiate take the time and negotiate a longer term sheet. And so, you know, things like closing conditions, do they have 30 days? Or can they take infinities? Oftentimes, term sheets are silent on how closing conditions? Or what happens if the large company pulls out? Or Why could they pull out? Is there any penalty to that? Right, there’s, there’s the whole composite, they
1:00:56
do pull out, you lose all your leverage, even with the other prospective buyers, right?
1:01:00
Of course. And so if there’s a no shop, how long is that? No shop? Right? And, you know, setting setting standards, we talked about compensation. Well, just the the price for the company is one part of it. Part of it is earnouts. There’s lots of negotiations with earnouts. Between the VCs who don’t really care about the house, they want to get paid today, right? They want they do want to get paid now, and the CEO compensation. So the compensation for the executive team. Things like employment agreements, you know, should the CEO have a separate attorney, we haven’t even talked about attorneys. we’re big believers in hiring the best m&a attorneys you possibly can. This is not a time to use your small business attorney who’s been great for the past couple of years or use, you know, your brother in law, or your cousin. Yeah,
1:02:01
you don’t want the value attorney.
1:02:03
And should the CEO have their own attorney separate from the attorney who’s representing the company. So there’s lots of nuances here. And in fact, in our book, we devote an entire chapter to the term sheet, the terms in the term sheet, what you should be focusing on, where you should be negotiating hard, and when you should be negotiating it.
1:02:31
Yeah, we’re going through a very public example, right now with Elon Musk and Twitter, about, you know, sort of what happens when promises aren’t being kept. You know, what, since the offer was made, Twitter stock went down a lot. Tesla’s stock went down a lot, those are conditions to walk away, they were very, very explicit in the in the documents of like, what would constitute sort of a breach that allows Elon Musk to walk away. Now, we’re sort of seeing this unfold live and the price tag of Vulcan always a cool billion dollars. And I don’t think Twitter is going to walk away from that billion dollars, I think they’re going to want their money because of all this debacle that has been caused in the event that the transaction doesn’t happen, which by the way, I’ll eat my shoe if that deal closes. So it’s a legal battle that’s unfolding in front of our eyes. But this is sort of a sort of an extreme example, most startup founders are going to have these kinds of like magical billion dollar walkout clauses. But you need to think about in a similar way of, hey, I want to make sure that the buyer is held accountable for the promises that are making to me, I want to make sure that there’s a plan in which we’re going to realize value. And if those promises aren’t being met, I want my urn out, I want to be paid, there needs to be consequences, that sets up a really healthy dynamic of leverage that sort of protects the founder for the longer term in your because as we all know, this playing field is not level, the buyer has way more leverage than you do. And we need to sort of empower the founders as much as we can sort of understand what they’re walking into.
1:03:54
Yeah, and by the way, once again, the minute you sign a term sheet, you just lost the vast majority of your leverage.
1:04:02
So guys, what we miss here, you know, what are your final thoughts, words of advice, whether it’s with regard specifically to exits or otherwise, you know, for the for the founders or investors out there.
1:04:15
The most important thing is we talked a lot about tactical stuff today we talked about and how to maximize value, but think about an integration plan. This is stuff to do. But there’s a component of exits, that is less about what you do, and more about who you are. It’s about your legacy. It’s how you’ll be remembered 10 years from now, 20 years from now. And that has very little to do with how much money you made on the when you walk out of the deal. And it has everything to do with how you treat other people, how you treated your buyer, how you treated your team, how you treat your customers. Your legacy is built with your actions, and there’s a lot of moments in the exit where you have to step up, but you have to sort of have a spy and you have to sort of protect the people that got You there. There’s a lot of moments, for example, where the founder negotiating it, there might be a better outcome for them, but worse outcome for their investors, better outcome for them, but half their team walks away. And we always, always, always want to remind founders that this is about your legacy. Most of us are crazy enough not to do this once, like we’re not in this. So we sell a company and then buy an island and the fish for the rest of our lives. We’re kind of crazy enough to kind of do this over and over and over again. So the key question we always want to ask our founders are, will people who worked for you in this team, join your next startup? Will your investors who invested in the startup enthusiastically write the check for your next startup? Will your buyer buy your next company? These are? These are difficult questions to answer. But they’re best answered by sort of having a long term point of view, this isn’t a short term transaction, this isn’t a I win, you lose. This works best if everybody wins, if this is a win win for both sides, if you’ve created a non zero sum game, and this is a product of empathy, and trust, and long term thinking, it has very little to do with how you negotiate the reps and warranties clause in the in the term sheet. It’s all about your values. It’s all about working with people that you want to be in business with for the long term, and feeling less about, you know, you’re you’re passing on something that you know that the hot potato to the next buyer, and much more focused on like how we build a lot of value together and sort of be in a happier place than we were before. It’s about it’s about that long term thinking. So while it’s a life changing event, and boy, I hope every founder gets an exit. And it’s truly an amazing, amazing experience, not just as a financial outcome, but really what it does to your career in terms of your next startup and the startup that comes after it’s part of your overall story. It’s also a moment to really, really, really be difficult about, you know, what those core decisions are, and how you want to be remembered. This is what we want founders to walk away with. This is about what this is what we mean by maximizing and building your legacy.
1:06:53
Marie, you’re a poet. That was beautiful. I couldn’t have said that better. The only thing I would add on top of that is, look, we wrote the book to give back. We wrote the book to help entrepreneurs, and is given us such joy. When we talk to entrepreneurs. We’ve gotten lots of phone calls from entrepreneurs who are going through transactions. And of course, we’re always going to help. And we’ve made you know, the principles in the book, have, literally we have case studies now where founders have made millions and millions of extra dollars when they follow the principles or the guiding principles in the book. And just a shout out to the audience is, is we’re always here to help. If you if there’s ever anything we could do, please reach out to me I’m can be reached on LinkedIn, just mark Eckler ACH le AR and and Mert. You can reach out to us on on email. But we’re here to help. We know that the journey of being an entrepreneur, I’ve been a CEO four times Mert has multiple serial entrepreneurs. We’ve been in your shoes we really understand. And we’re glad to help if we can.
1:08:13
Mark and Mert. Is there a resource aside from exit, right? That you’ve found really valuable that you’d recommend to listeners?
1:08:22
Basically, every word Brad Feld has ever wrote you should read it in terms of in terms of a startup author is what I what I really like one of the best. It’s just truly one of the best. And of course, the podcast that we’re on right now full TFR. Thank you, sir.
1:08:42
Yes to the podcast. But also, one of my favorite books is from Tony Shea. Rest in peace. He wrote a book called Delivering Happiness. And it’s all about it’s a very short, easy book, easy to read. And it’s all about taking responsibility, and owning what’s really owning the relationship with the customer. And how does that translate and how do you build a culture that’s accountable to the customer? I love that book. And I strongly encourage entrepreneurs to read it
1:09:19
100% agree one of the best and then finally here guys, you mentioned a bit about this before but what’s the best way for listeners to follow along with math and you know, keep up with each of you.
1:09:31
Were very active on LinkedIn Mark Achler, ma, ma RK a si H L E R or myself Murthy Sherry, Mert Iseri. I’m also on Twitter at MHI easy to find and just DM us just reach out directly we’ll be we’ll be glad to talk to you.
1:09:48
All right, they are Mark Achler and Mert Iseri the authors of exit write how to sell your startup maximize your return and Build your legacy. Guys, this has been a real pleasure. You know, it’s nice that we can connect in In town, and now, the rest of the country and world can hear about it. But thanks so much for the time today.
1:10:04
Of course, Nick, thank you for all the good work you do. It’s really appreciated. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.
1:10:15
All right, that’ll wrap up today’s interview. If you enjoyed the episode or a previous one, let the guests know about it. Share your thoughts on social or shoot him an email. Let them know what particularly resonated with you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that some of the smartest folks in venture are willing to take the time and share their insights with us. If you feel the same, a compliment goes a long way. Okay, that’s a wrap for today. Until next time, remember to over prepare, choose carefully and invest confidently thanks so much for listening

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