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In Deal Process

Key Takeaway: Strategically Prioritize Business & Body – Abel Mathew, Backtrace Co-Founder

Backtrace was acquired by Sauce Labs in July 2021. Hear more from the Co-Founder, Abel Mathew, about the entrepreneur’s experience with GrowthPoint. The deal team provided a depth of wisdom and firm relationships with M&A departments and VCs to reach desired outcome.

What would I advise other entrepreneurs, people running companies in the process of selling their company? I’ve had some time since the transactions. Hindsight is 2020. Especially in these kind of moments. I’d like to think of it in two different areas. It’s hard not to incorporate the emotional, the human aspect of selling a company.

It’s so personal when you do it. But then there’s also the thing to recognize is when you’re selling your company, it’s very much like running a business, running a process. There has to be a strategy. There has to be execution. There has to be feedback loops that go back into strategy. So the first piece of advice in that category of running it like a business is that you actually have to continue building your existing business.

Great businesses are bought, not sold. That’s that’s the clich√© saying. And I didn’t really understand what that meant until in the process of selling, I understood. Initially, when I focused on selling my business, I wasn’t getting the outcomes that I wanted. But when I went back to focusing on running my business, building the best business that I could, it became more attractive to potential suitors.

I was able to build a strong narratives and stronger numbers. Actually, employee morale increased and in fact, ironically, made me decrease my desire to sell the company. But it was in that moment that I realized your number one priority when you’re selling your company is to actually build a great company and then treat the process of selling your company as another task as part of your strategy.

The key phrase that I would always go back to during this process was about how do I maximize outcomes and de-risk? And in that vein, what’s really important is that you and create leverage and multiple opportunities. You’re always thinking about what the next step is. So, building a great business is one of the best ways you can create leverage and create multiple opportunities.

So, first piece of advice really around execution is to think of it like a business task. Make sure, number one, you’re focusing on building a great business. Two, on the emotional side, I’ll tell you right now, it’s a it’s a roller coaster. In a single day, I could have the highest highs and the lowest lows. In fact, that would happen consecutive days. Day in and day out.

So, one of the best pieces of advice I got during this moment was how do you strengthen yourself so that you can be prepared for this roller coaster? For me, it was two 15-minute walks a day where I was able to kind of release my brain. What do you do to recharge, refresh? And trust me as a developer, as an entrepreneur who’s heads down, I didn’t really believe all of those kind of statements at first. But the profound effects it had on my ability to problem solve and strategize in the moment, because at any given moment there could be a fork in the road and you have to think on your feet because you’re in midst of conversations with a potential company that might buy you or, potential other options or you’re still running your company.

And all of those cases, making sure that you’re well within is super important. So don’t discount the emotional aspect of it along those same lines. Another piece of advice I’d give on the emotional front is to find peers, peers that you can talk to, peers that are not directly in the line of fire, that allow you the space to be able to communicate and verbalize what you’re feeling.

I, someone who does not verbalize quite well or express myself emotionally, actually found this incredibly beneficial. Just finding other CEOs that have been through this that I can talk through some of the ups and downs. In fact, even developing the relationship with your VCs or your board to be able to talk through it. Being vulnerable in those moments so that you can actually get the support you need is super beneficial.