sell a company

Sometimes the opportunity to sell a business comes through a fat client who almost demands exclusivity. Others from a complementary partner. And the ideal is that they put two offers on your table. How to do the best to make everything go well? The protagonists of three national sales give us the keys.

Sell ​​to a complementary partner

Markus Alve.

Marcos Alves Cardoso, co-founder of The ForkPurchased from Tripadvisor in 2014

The sale of El Tenedor was early – it had been on the market for 7 years – and very quickly – everything was completed in a month.

They called me on a Wednesday in May and said: Get ready, Stephen Kaufer, the founder of Tripadvisor, is coming and wants to see us«.

“We had a meeting with him all day, we introduced him to the company, they were enthusiastic, and the following week we had signed the letter of intent, agreed prices and in a month it was all done,” says Marcos Alves Cardoso.

“I think it happened quickly because Tripadvisor was a young company, purely digital, and that means it also has agile workflows, but also because our finance director had organized everything very well: the figures, the company, the structure. If you can present all of this in a transparent, simple and organized way, everything becomes much easier. because a climate of trust is created”.

“It’s also important to find out why they’re buying from you. In our case, we were very smallwe were in three countries –Spain, France and Switzerland–, but we had a very clear model and prepared for scalability. Tripadvisor bought us because they had a website with millions of users, traffic, and an industry of restaurants that didn’t generate any revenue. We were the right people to scale the company. We went from 3 to 22 countries and from 100 to 1,000 people. It is important for me to analyze why they buy from you and what value it brings you. It’s not about fattening the company’s billing, it’s about generating value.”

“After the purchase we had sold 100% of the shares, we had sold all the cash and the next day we were able to leave the company but we made an agreement to continue. After all, you’re not just selling a company, you’re selling a project. And there was a relationship with what the project was that came from behind.

«We have been after the sale for 8 years. My partner and I And they have allowed us to develop a project, to scale it, with the power of the resources a Tripadvisor can have., but in a way to own our company. I say owners without owning it, but we outlined the expansion plan, how we wanted to grow and we implemented it in partnership with Tripadvisor. They never told us you had to do this or that because they bought us knowing we had the added value and the know-how. And that’s not common.”

Two offers on the table

Paul Szefner.

Pablo Szefner, co-founder and CEO of The Fab Shoesa leading online shoe retail company in southern Europe, acquired by JustFab.

“What happened to us is this We had two offers to buy. This is ideal because you have two companies fighting each other and you more or less have the upper hand to raise the price.. The key is to put yourself in a position of strength,” says Pablo Szefner.

“We had two offers, but clearly chose one that was the most interesting for us We were fortunate to agree not only on how we wanted to work, but also on what the future would be like. I stayed on as CEO for 7 years after the sale because I liked the company, I liked what we were building and I liked the team. It was a sale by those who say one plus one equals three. I learned a lot with the buyer and we grew the business. When we sold we had 22 employees and when I left there were 80 people in Barcelona,” says Pablo Szefner.

Sale of a company at the beginning of the business activity

“We sold our company with a lifespan of more or less two years. It is a reality that the buyer saves a lot of time with such a purchase. It saves recruiting 20 people. It also reduces risks, because you buy a team of professionals who work together. It reduces teaching time because you have a team that has been working on this problem for a long time and knows a lot about what they are talking about, and all this is paid for with a buyer at a very important price. That’s usually a good way to sell a startup,” explains Pablo Szefner.

It’s difficult to give advice on selling. It’s something so personal, it changes your life so much. I’ve been fortunate to work in three different fields: I’ve worked in healthcare for ten years, in travel for ten years and in fashion for ten years. And I’ve learned a lot. But there are people who always continue in the same industry. There is no specific advice except Surround yourself with people who have already done itsurround yourself with people who know what they are talking about, who have been there before, and above all keep a cool head, because it is a complicated path,” confesses Pablo Szefner.

Sale to a very large customer

David Xicota.

David Xicota, Founder of Edenic Gamesa video game company acquired by GSN Games (a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment) in 2016.

“We sold the company in 2016 in a year-long process. It began how many acquisitions start well, such as a negotiation for a very large customer who wanted to use our technology. First they had a stake in the company and finally we negotiated that they would do best to buy us because with the terms they set it would be better for them to buy us,” he explains. David Xicota, Founder of Edenic Games.

“We started treating them as customers who wanted to use the platform at special rates. We had a platform To play and they wanted to develop their video games with it.

But it was a very big customer. They started testing it, asking for discounts… it was very strange requests until the final conclusion was, hey, what you want is to have the technology for yourself because we negotiated that,” he adds .

this fat customer David spoke from GSN Games, a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment, now owners of the company.

Negotiate with your future boss

David Xicota is very insistent A game of cat and mouse with negotiations, and the importance of staying steadfast while playing. “In my case, I had to deal with a person who later became my boss in the company. I had several breaking points with him and he even told me: You know I can’t accept this because if I do you will fire me as soon as I start working with you because I have accepted things like that Benefits of the company run counter to companies. I can not accept this.”

“Once we started becoming part of the group and working with them, those negotiations helped us take on a lot more responsibility because they knew we were good at negotiating, we had a very broad vision, we looked at all the options and we had a good internal position thanks to the outcome of the negotiations. As good as we made it, more or less,” assures David Xicota.

For more information on selling a business, see How to Sell Your Business

how to sell your business, selling, SELLING A BUSINESS, selling a business, selling The Fork