How Does My Startup Get Acquired?

We read about startups being acquired all the time, but we rarely have any idea how those situations ever escalated. While there might not be some “Tinder for Startup Acquisitions” that everyone else is using but us — it actually is all about building relationships.

June 20th, 2019   |    By: Wil Schroter

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The truth is most startups get acquired based on relationships they have built with trusted partners that evolve over time into something more substantial.

It's the equivalent of going from a first date to living together to full-blown marriage.

The trick is to understand how to develop that process over time versus waiting for an acquiring company to show up with a big check!

Should I be waiting for a company to call me?

Definitely not!

While it sounds amazing to have your dream buyer call you and talk turkey, we'll likely be sitting around for a long, long time waiting for the phone to ring.

Instead, the right move is to build relationships with all of the potential acquiring companies you can think of — whether as customers, partners, or even just personal connections.

How do I "shop" my startup by saying I'm selling?

You don't have to specifically state that you're selling the company. If someone wants to buy it, that conversation will typically begin under the auspices of a partnership of some sort.

Try to find any good way to begin working with acquiring entities so that you can build a relationship with the key stakeholders who will later become your internal champions for an acquisition.

Is it OK to let people know I'm interested in selling?

The best answer is "We're always open to talking" versus "Oh good god yes please buy us!" (even though that's exactly what we're thinking!)

There's a very long road between someone expressing interest in a sale and actually consummating a sale, so it's helpful to build the conversation over time, versus just sending over all of your financials and hoping for a check after one conversation!

In Case You Missed It

Life After a Startup Exit Ain’t All Rosy (podcast). What happens after the fanfare your big startup buyout wears off? Ryan and Wil discuss how it’s rarely what we all think.

Thinking About Getting Acquired? Our team takes an open, honest look at how acquisitions are like relationships — people don’t think realistically about them, and they often end poorly.

3 Steps You Can Take to Build Great Strategic Partnerships. Darren Wilson, President of bluemedia, lays out his approach to forging partnerships where everyone wins.


About the Author

Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter is the Founder + CEO @ Startups.com, a startup platform that includes BizplanClarity, Fundable, Launchrock, and Zirtual. He started his first company at age 19 which grew to over $700 million in billings within 5 years (despite his involvement). After that he launched 8 more companies, the last 3 venture backed, to refine his learning of what not to do. He's a seasoned expert at starting companies and a total amateur at everything else.

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