The Real Reasons We Don’t Hear About Successful Bootstrapped Exits

Here are the 5 biggest reasons we don’t hear about 90% of the successful exits that create life-changing wealth for bootstrapped SaaS founders.

The bootstrapper success stories we do hear about are just the tip of the iceberg. Big wins for practical SaaS founders are a lot more common than we think.

  1.  Founders can’t talk about it.When you grow a company to $5M ARR and sell it for $25M or $50M, the big company you sell it to usually has an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) that prevents the founders from discussing any financial details of the transaction.I run into this all the time on my podcast. Very few founders can actually say how much they sold their companies for.

    So they talk about revenues, employees, and being “an above-average exit” for us to estimate the exit value.

    If you can’t share the specific exit value, there won’t be a big news story after the press release announcement. Social media and tech media want the headline exit number. We do too, right?

  2.  Founders don’t want to talk about it.I talk to founders who will chat in private with me about their companies and exits, but they don’t want to share their stories where people can see they are rich.I can appreciate this. Some people don’t like to brag. They don’t want neighbors and friends to know any details. Or they don’t want to be accosted by people who want something from them or are selling something.

    Most founders started their scrappy companies to solve a problem in the world and make an impact, so the exit prize money isn’t what they want to focus on.

  3.  Founder-scale exits don’t make the news.The business press and tech news will always cover a story about a billion-dollar VC-funded exit where founders take home a tiny fraction (<10%) of the prize. That’s VC-scale.Most of the startup-tech media focuses on VC-funding announcements.

    They won’t cover a $90M exit where two bootstrapped founders and their employees take home all of the prize. That’s founder-scale.

  4.  Most bootstrapped SaaS companies are very niche.It’s really hard to write (or click on) a catchy new headline that describes how a “large software company that serves a segment of the financial advisor industry buys a tiny portfolio risk analytics software company for over $100M,” as Praveen Ghanta shared in the Practical Founders Podcast two weeks ago.The riches may be in the niches, but the simple headlines and popular stories are not.
  5.  Follow the money.There’s big money to be made by investors, service providers, job seekers, media companies, and accelerators that chase companies with VC funding.There’s very little money to be made around the crowd of frugal founders who don’t want investors, spend very little on service providers, and don’t waste money on expensive advertising or recruiters.

Let me know of a practical founder who created a valuable software company without big VC funding.

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