Sold To Ford – One Month Later
Been a crazy month since the closing and the announcement. Here are three thoughts:
I am writing this on the plane back from my annual CEO Conference and Industry Forum held by the Consumer Electronics Association. Until last week I never realized how many entrepreneurs I already knew that have started multiple businesses. I spoke to so many people this week that have done what I do and understand my business and my passion. The serial tech entrepreneur has already learned what I am learning. I picked up on this about 6 months ago while I was working on our Ford deal.
For example, my fellow board member and friend David Lorsch advised me on doing a deal. He told me “all deals blow up 3 times before they get done.” Changing purchasing structures, rogue shareholders, miscellaneous and random oversights in the deal, always pop up. It happened to me, and David’s heads up and advice kept me cool, calm, and collected through the process.
“Getting the ship back to port” club:
One of our investors (and one of my personal fav) Lindsay Aspegren from North Coast Venture Partners congratulated me on “Getting the ship back to port.” In today’s economic climate, getting a deal done where everyone is happy is one of the hardest things to do. Obviously everyone would be happier had we been able to add a zero to the valuation. The important thing is we made it, and we did it with the best partner (Ford), regardless of valuation.
Every venture-backed entrepreneur knows how hard it is to get in this club. It’s a bit of a right of passage, with a ton of work and stress. It also validates that I can do what it takes to keep momentum through a finish, which is one of the hardest tasks of the process.
I know that my next deal will be a lot smoother than my first deal. I also have learned enough through the process to know what partners (financial, and personnel) I will work with on my next gig. For example, if you have liquidation preferences in your cap structure, make sure that all of the terms and conditions are clearly discussed in an exit upfront (e.g. ability to fund closing items, escrow payouts, and other details). My (rookie) mistakes cost time and money for my investors. That’s my responsibility as the entrepreneur. I won’t let that happen again.
Who doesn’t want to be a CEO of a hot tech startup? You get all the glam and glory with the bonus of being able to wake up every morning loving what you do. The reason we do it is because of the people we work with, not necessarily the product or service. I have made life long friends through the Livio crew, investors, customers, partners, vendors, and the tech community. We did this by creating a purpose for our brand, which we all worked on together.
I regularly have one-on-one meetings with the crew at Livio. Post-acquisition I went around and I was touched with how many people said that I was the reason they decided to stay on and work. When I first started Myine Electronics, LLC (the original company to Livio) I wanted to have best people and best products. I will never understand how some CEOs and managers treat their staff. I do care what people have to say about me. This is my brand and my purpose.
While we were in the trenches working on our deal with Ford, the one thing that kept me whole was the comfort in being honest with our staff. They would all be able to say that they were a part of an 11-person team that built world-class technology, which was acquired by a Fortune10 company within 3 years of development. I was part of many teams in my career, and I was fortunate to have great mentors and co-workers. I strive to give back to everyone I work with. It’s unrealistic to think that our team will be together in 10 years at Livio, however I hope that our team will always remember our times together and how special they were. I know I will.
I hope to continue sharing thoughts in the future. If you are a VC backed company and want advice, I’m here to help. Just hit me up.