by Neal Taparia
Your business is your baby. You pour a lot of love, sweat, tears, and energy growing and raising it be successful. We’re going through that process for the second time, with our new business solitaired, which ties brain training with classical games.
Prior, my business partner and I had been building our business since high school. In 2001, we had been taking computer science classes, and realized that that the process of manually creating bibliographies was very annoying. We spent months after school building a product that would automate the creation of bibliographies, and like that, our company Imagine Easy Solutions was born.
And like a baby that matures into an adult, our business had different growth phases. Eventually it could stand on its own two feet as we hit revenue milestones of $1M, $5M, $10M, and beyond, all without taking investment.
By 2016, we had spent nearly half our lives building our business. Needless to say, the decision to sell was a serious one, and how we went about it would be a culmination of the work we had put into it since 2001.
Why even bother with an investment banker?
Having been in education technology for 15 years, we had gotten to know many of the major players in the space. We had met many of them at conferences and explored various partnership opportunities.
Initially we thought, why don’t we just call up our rolodex of contacts and see what their appetite is in our business? For companies we don’t know well, we thought we could surely find a way to get in touch with them.
But then we started talking to friends who had sold their businesses. After hearing their war stories, it became clear we needed an organized process to effectively sell our business. It would not be as simple as making phone calls and saying happily, “Want to buy us?”
After spending so much of your life building your business, you want to put yourself in the best position to maximize its value. We realized quickly that we could benefit meaningfully from an organized process to sell our business. We didn’t spend 15 years building to not to put our best foot forward at the last mile.
An investment banker could help us tell a great story to attract buyers, qualify those interested in the business and bring them to the table, and more importantly, be the bad cop to our good cop to create enough competition to get the best valuation for the business.
Evaluating the best partner to sell your business
Being in New York City, we were surrounded by reputable investment banks. We thought it would be easy to select an investment banker. After all, we had many friends in the space and a good network to take advantage of.
That was a blessing and a curse. After sending some information on our business, we began taking meetings with NYC based investment banks. Everyone prepared a deck to give us their views on the edtech landscape and who they thought could be ideal buyers.
It was a lot of the same, and it was challenging to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Why Vista Point was the right fit
We had never really considered working with an investment bank that was based outside of New York City. We simply figured proximity helped.
But we remembered having insightful conversations with David Cho of Vista Point over the last few years. He had been helpful giving us insights into the market, and on who was raising money, selling, and what buyers were interested in.
We let David know we wanted to sell our business, and the next week we had dinner with him and Mike Lyon, the founder of Vista Point. Unlike the other investment banks we had talked with, it was not only clear Vista Point was knowledgeable about our market, but they were very thoughtful about how to orchestrate a sales process to maximize our valuation. More importantly, it was clear they would fight for us, and would set aside any type of relationship they might have with the buyer.
After so many other investment banking meetings, our meeting with Vista Point was refreshing. Our gut said Vista Point was the right fit for us.
The rest is history
We had a great experience working with Vista Point, and they helped us achieve our long standing goals with our business. With Solitaired, as we continue to materialize our vision, we hope we’ll be working with Vista Point again soon.