When is the Right Time to be Acquired?
Yesterday I met a startup that I have been mentoring for the past 18 months. The founders have developed a deep tech product that has a niche in the B2B space. While their sales have not managed to light up the startup world, I can ascertain that they have developed a robust product that services a small but solid customer base.
One of the discussion points on the agenda was an unsolicited acquisition offer from a customer that wanted to develop what they had built and found that it was better to buy them vs build the solution, in-house. They had asked the founding team to discuss the offer with the investors and gauge if there was interest in pursuing such a transaction.
IMHO, the founding team has worked very hard to develop a product that any entrepreneur should be proud of and landed a client most could only dream of. However, it was evident that the limited success beyond the major client had started to eat at the founder’s confidence. So, although they didn’t say it, it was clear that they were in favour of the idea and just wanted to know if I was onboard with their decision.
I know that the founders would respect my opinion if it contradicted their decision but I cannot make this decision for any of my founders. I see my role as that of a guide, showing them the path from where to get the answers for themselves, therefore, my advice to any founding team that is agonising over the decision to get acquired or slug it out is simple.
First, clear the din created by all the advice offered by investors, advisors, mentors, employees, co-founders, parents, siblings and basically anyone that can talk. Secondly, seek an honest answer to these questions:
What will make me/us happier?
If my/our efforts were part of a larger canvas? Or If my/our efforts were the canvas, itself?