We would continue with fast growth but need to exit for personal reasons. Where would you go from here to find a buyer? Very grateful for any answers.

I've been through multiple acquisitions in my career, and navigated them for other founders as well.

Your scenario is not uncommon. There are many issues that affect an acquisition. The biggest one, assuming most elements look positive, is timing for the acquirers.

In your landscape of SaaS travel businesses there are always big players who might be (1) able to buy you, (2) willing to buy you, and (3) need to buy you. But...they may have a 3rd party service that works well and they don't feel a need to own more proprietary software - there's no measurable gain to them for doing so. They may want to buy a company like yours, but feel there are other cheaper/better/fill-in-reason options. And of course the killer: they just acquired some other company with enough similar features that it now doesn't make sense to buy you, too.

You mention needing to exit for personal reasons. This may also be playing into your trouble on two counts. First, this puts you at a disadvantage when negotiating; you could be "playing scared". Second, when a large company acquires another company they fully expect the founders, execs, and typically the bulk of all employees to stay on for 1 to 3 years. This provides transition, continuity, and often brings an entrepreneurial boost back into the "mother ship".

If any of those things is clouding the conversation, then you will need to evaluate that with your team. Speaking of your team, if you all are really stuck on a certain acquisition number then that can also spoil things. You say you "need" to exit. So if that's true, then accept any number that gets you to break-even. A number larger than that is gravy. Waiting on your dream number is, in this case, not advisable.

I'm happy to jump on a call to talk specifics and figure out how to plan your way forward with you.

Answered 4 years ago

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