Startups: Here are 10 overlooked truths about getting acquired

Acquirers probably already have their eye on you. When Unilever bought Schmidt’s, I found out they’d been watching my brand for years—proof I never needed to strategize over a big exit – Jaime Schmidt

An acquisition was never in my thinking. Yet, I caught the attention of Unilever who paid $100M+ for my brand. Here are 10 overlooked truths about getting acquired. 🧵
1/ If you’re starting from a position of wanting to exit, you’re starting from the wrong place. I always kept focus on my product and customers, and I never looked too far ahead. Be prepared for it to take years. When you love what you’re doing, it’s easy to play the long game.
2/ Acquirers probably already have their eye on you. When Unilever bought Schmidt’s, I found out they’d been watching my brand for years—proof I never needed to strategize over a big exit. It blew my mind to see early iterations of my product sitting on their office shelves.
3/ The success of their larger family of brands is always the ultimate goal of the acquirer. Your brand needs to complement and represent growth for their overall portfolio. You want a partner where your brand will thrive amongst, not compete within, the family.
4/ Timing is everything. It was tempting to pass on the acquisition offer to see how far I could continue to take the company on my own. But the market is fierce, and if it wasn’t my brand it would’ve been another. And I knew it was the right move to sustain the brand long term.
5/ Acquirers aren’t just buying your brand for revenue potential. They want your alpha to benefit their portfolio. From Unilever CEO @alanjope, “Schmidt’s has been built entirely using data-driven marketing,.. And that learning has been used to scale our mass consumer brands.”
6/ Big acquirers have all the resources & tech they need to replicate your product in-house. But what they don’t have is the brand equity & cult following. This is why they need you. The hard work & love you’re putting in every day is positioning you for huge financial returns.
7/ Innovation shows up in many forms. You don’t need some new, mind-blowing product the world has never seen before. What’s important is creativity around the way you’re talking about it, interesting features, and finding opportunity in new audiences and distribution channels.
8/ An acquisition is a two-way deal. You’re vetting the acquirer as much as they’re vetting you. Consider your future role & compensation, noncompete agreements, alignment with long-term vision, impact to the team & more. Hire a broker to help gain interest from other parties.
9/ As you grow, you’ll find it might be time to open your mind to different paths for you and the business. When Unilever approached, we were in dire need of capital and more executive-level talent. On a personal level, I was beginning to feel curious about what was next for me.
10/ The emotional impact is huge. Expect a heavy load of feelings before, during and post-acquisition. For many founders, an acquisition is a dream come true. For others, the idea might take some warming up to. The beauty of being a founder is that you control your own path.
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