Guest: Craig Slayter
Co-Founder & First CEO of Odesk (Upwork), CEO, Founder & MNA Executive
How do you prepare your company for a $100 million exit? Craig Slayter draws on more than 30 years of experience as a Silicon Valley start-up entrepreneur, CEO, founder, general manager, and MNA executive. He has personally raised over $50 million in venture capital funding. The first company he founded at the age of 31 was SoftStyle, an embedded software company, which he sold 5 years later to Phoenix Technologies, where he participated in taking that company public.
He has assessed hundreds of companies for potential acquisition, and participated in acquisitions ranging from $5 million to over $100 million. He’s also the co-founder and first CEO of oDesk, which is now Upwork, the world’s largest freelance marketplace. Jeffrey Slayter interviews Craig Slayter, his father, to share his experiences and exit plans with game-changing and innovative entrepreneurs.
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Time-Stamped Show Notes
[00:00] Introduction of Craig Slayter, his professional background and experience.
[01:50] Craig Slayter shares the story of what he learned about the exit when it came time to sell his very first company. He advises entrepreneurs to start your business with the exit in mind.
[03:42] One of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is messy capital structures that require cleaning up when it’s time to exit.
[06:30] The difference and importance between finding businesses to sell and businesses which are saleable.
[10:00] Minimizing the risks your buyer is trying to avoid will strengthen your company and lead to a much higher amount of money.
[13:56] Craig Slayter answers questions about business founders who think of their businesses as their babies and have a hard time separating their own identity. This makes selling the business harder than it has to be.
[17:14] Common sense answers and valuable ideas to assess individual business situations.
[21:53] The importance of retaining enough equity as you can while still giving up enough to attract others to the business.
[25:36] Sharing some of his own experiences, Craig Slayter discusses the importance of having a proper cap structure from the very beginning of setting up a new business.
[26:25] Red flags of companies without strategic planning.
[32:50] A strong management team adds value. Top talent attracts venture capitalists and makes for a better acquisition.
[37:10] Focusing on a strategic plan to create the value needed for a desired exit and creating the management structure and capital that allow the completion of the plan.