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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Co-Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Sell Your Startup

First off: I’m a massive believer in growing one’s own ideas and it would thus be a very hard decision for me to ever even consider selling one of my companies. We had concrete interest in WooThemes in the past for example, but to this day we have decided that we’d rather continue to grow our own baby, instead of selling.

This article on TechCrunch goes on to explain why FourSquare should not be selling out to Yahoo. I however have an unique take on this…

  1. At a valuation of $80m+, I sell my startup today; especially one that is reliant on technology. Whilst you are relevant & trendy today, this may not be the case tomorrow; so I’d rather sell for a ridiculous amount of money now and start up something new.
  2. A valuation of $80m+ is ridiculous to say the least. FourSquare isn’t even making any money; so wonder what that valuation is based on? Potential? Forecasts? Pfff…
  3. The author has gotten his point of having an entrepreneurial spirit spot on by saying But there’s a reason why you became an entrepreneur and didn’t just stay a mid level developer grunt at a variety of large organizations. You have the fire to change the world. So go do it.. Fact of the matter is, that approach is always a risky one and sometimes you need to take some money off the table and out of the equation (i.e. looking after one’s longer term needs).
  4. Personally I’d rather sell completely than have to take VC funding and answer to a bunch of suits. But that’s probably just me.

I will always be an entrepreneur at hard and even at silly valuations, I will be reluctant to sell any business I’m currently involved with or may be involved with going forward. Reality however is that even entrepreneurs need to be realistic at times; so selling your startup should always be an option.

Having that as an option, doesn’t mean you are selling out, but it does mean you are considering every possibility and every opportunity. In my mind, that is more entrepreneurial than just ignoring a possible sale because you are afraid of selling out.

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