Nearly every founder or executive considers selling their company at one point or another. Before embarking on the complex process, it is crucial for the company leaders – especially within the ever-evolving tech community – to ensure their strategy encompasses all aspects of a sale, from understanding the environment to being accurate with pricing expectations.
In advance of the annual FOLEYTech Summit held on October 1, we are releasing five tips for a successful exit. See below for tip number five and check back here for more tips leading up to FOLEYTech.
5. Leverage Your Advisers Early
Deciding whether to hire an investment banker as part of the active solicitation process is complicated. Some bankers with specific domain knowledge and experience can greatly enhance a deal. But many investment bankers only work on large transactions — $10M plus of EBITDA or $50 million in deal value are common thresholds—so this isn’t always an option. Further, finding the right banker, the one with industry chops and connections in a particular space, takes time and usually requires an adviser with a deep network.
Lawyers with tech M&A experience can help determine if a banker is necessary and narrow the field of those who should be contacted—so having the right legal counsel on board early is particularly helpful in this realm. Experienced legal firms will also be able to brainstorm with founders and executives on appropriate ways to approach the market, whether to take a more organic approach or whether to formalize the process with a banker.
If the consensus is that a banker would greatly enhance the chances for success, your law firm can help you prepare and make your company more attractive to the right bankers, who prefer to take on projects that are already well buttoned-up and organized.
A banker can also make sense for smaller tech companies with lean executive teams, as the bankers will typically assume much of the work of finding a buyer and honing all the financial modeling, a substantial task that must be completed by a pro. Financial models, often carried out on multi-level spreadsheets with macros and adjustable inputs, will be the first thing on which any corporate development officer will spend a great deal of time.
Experience in dealing with the dynamic influences of investors, acquirers, employees and founders is paramount. It’s also critical that any keystone adviser, be it a lawyer, banker or board member, possess a keen understanding of typical deal structures and the “gotcha” clauses often inserted into agreement language by acquirers and equity investors.