1. Get seen
It seems like an obvious tip but if you’re looking to make an exit, you must first be seen and known. Do your research and look at the type of companies that might find your business of value, then get out there and network with them. Only by being front of mind will you be in for a chance.
2. Stand out from the crowd
When large corporates look to acquire a company they very rarely just look at one. The business of acquisition is competitive and you’ll be up against several similar companies, all looking to make their big money exit too. Be aware of who your competition is and use techniques like PR and marketing to make sure potential acquirers understand what you have to offer that’s different.
3. Judge your timing
Handling an exit is like playing a game of cards – go too soon and you could miss out but overplay your hand and you could end up with nothing. It’s difficult to gauge the perfect time to exit but knowing what your potential acquirer is looking for will help you to some degree.
Large corporates are looking for a product or service innovation to add to their portfolio, to boost their revenues and sometimes to acquire you before you’re snapped up by one of their competitors. They expect the start-up to have passed the R&D stage, have early but significant customers and that all IP licensing is in order so they can rapidly turn you into something they can capitalise globally.
Simon Bond is centre director at SETsquared’s innovation centre at the University of Bath.
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