The Best Exits For SaaS Founders Happen When They Aren’t Looking To Exit

I hear the same thing over and over from practical SaaS founders I interviewed on my podcast who successfully sold their companies:

  •  “We were profitable and growing and weren’t trying to sell our company.
  •  We kept telling prospective buyers No, but one of them made an offer we couldn’t refuse, and we finally said Yes.
  •  It worked out great, and it was a good home for our business.”

The best exits for practical founders often happen when they aren’t worried about an exit and don’t design their business for it.

Like Joe McMenemon, co-founder of ChapterSpot, who shared his story this week on my podcast.

ChapterSpot is the leading enterprise member management platform for national associations with local chapters, including college fraternity and sorority organizations in the U.S.

Each local chapter recruits members, charges dues, and runs its programs. But the national organization manages the software systems, unique workflows, and payment management for its chapters.

ChapterSpot took 15 years to grow from a useful tool for individual chapters to the core system for national associations with millions of members.

They were bootstrapped and profitable the whole way before BillHighway acquired ChapterSpot in a strategic sale earlier this year.

Joe and his cofounder Brendan didn’t have to sell and weren’t thinking about a big exit. They were focused on their customers and employees and creating a great business.

As Joe described it on the podcast:

“Honestly, we weren’t really thinking about selling our company. Our mindset was just to make the right calls for the business long-term. We had grown much bigger, and we continued to win market share.

“We had always been approached by different parties to acquire our business. Our standard line was that we’re making really good money and we don’t want to sell. Life is great for us now. We get to pick who we want to work with and we have full autonomy of our schedule.

“For us to think about selling, it really had to be a big win for our families. We always said it’s about our families, team members, and customers.

“They threw around some initial numbers to buy our company that were very interesting. After we talked about it with our families, we were willing to jump in and go through the process. But we could say No at any time.”

The difference between a good exit to a financial acquirer and a great exit to a strategic partner is often the ability to say No Thanks and keep building your business.

That’s optionality on steroids.

It’s an important superpower for practical founders building valuable software companies without big funding.

Listen to Joe’s amazing story here on the Practical Founders Podcast:


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