How can an entrepreneur go about exploring what's the best exit strategy for his/her startup?


Listen to my interview with exit strategist Jock Purtle of Digital Exits here (no opt-in, simple download):

Answered 6 years ago

Have conversations with successful people you admire + ask them how they'd exit your company, if they inherited it today.

Answered 6 years ago

The main exit strategy for start-ups is to sell the company to a bigger one for a profit. The same goes for investors. The buyer takes over the start-up using cash or stock as a compensation, and key executives and employees from the start-up often stay at the company for a period of time in order to be able to cash out and vest their stock. Exits provide capital to start-up investors, which can then return the money to their limited partners (in the case of Venture Capitalists) or to the investors themselves (in the case of business angels). Start-up acquisitions are much more frequent in the US than in Europe, but lately there has been a significant surge in the number of European acquisitions: according to in the first half of 2014 there were 131 exits in Europe. A different type of acquisition that is quite common in Silicon Valley is acquihires (acquisition + hiring). In this case the buyer is not so much interested in the product as it is in the team, the talent, where it is also important to have a development partner with scalable team. Acquihires often lead to the closure of the products and services that have been acquired and employees end up being transferred to a company usually receive significant hiring bonuses. Acquihires tend to happen at an earlier stage in comparison to big start-up acquisitions, which means that they often provide less capital to business angels and Venture Capitalists.
IPO stands for ā€˜initial public offeringā€™ and it basically means that a company starts floating on a stock market, selling a significant number of their shares in the process to institutional and non-institutional investors. These large companies are that VCs dream of, as they often provide large sums of capital to all parts involved (founders, early employees, and investors). For a long time, the NASDAQ and Wall Street have been the main markets for European start-ups looking to IPO. However, in recent times companies such as eDreams Odigeo, Zalando, or Rocket Internet have chosen the Madrid, Frankfurt, or London stock exchanges to go public. According to, in the first six months of 2014 there were 11 IPOs in Europe. An interested trend in the start-up world when it comes to going public is that more and more companies are taking longer to IPO. This is a consequence of the high amount of capital available in the start-up market from Venture Capitalists, private equity firms and other investment institutions. Also commonly known as M&As, these transactions usually imply a merging with a similar and larger company. This type of exit is often chosen by big companies that are looking for complimentary skills in the market and buying a smaller start-up is a better way to develop a product than creating it in-house. M&As are less common than IPOs and straight acquisitions; in the first half of 2014 there were only 4 mergers and acquisitions in Europe. In the same way that not every start-up needs to raise money from VCs and business angels (bootstrapping is a viable alternative), not every start-up needs to sell itself to a bigger company to provide a return to founders, employees and investors. Companies that can establish a solid business model and scale might choose to stay independent and reinvest the profits in the company. Part of those profits can also be distributed amongst investors as a dividend, providing liquidity to outside partners while avoiding the public markets and the obligations that come with it.
Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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