Against the Odds: Selling a SaaS Business to a NASDAQ Company

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About Our Guest

Cheryl Contee is the Chief Innovation Officer of The Impact Seat, which invests in women-led and women-of-color led innovative startups.

Cheryl is also the award-winning Founder and Chair of Do Big Things, a digital agency that creates new narrative and new tech for a new era focused on causes and campaigns.

Apart from these, Cheryl is also the co-founder of Fission that helped the world’s leading non-profits and foundations design digital ecosystems that create change globally. Cheryl was a co-founder of social marketing software Attentive.ly, the first tech startup with a black female founder on board in history to be acquired by Blackbaud, a NASDAQ-traded company. Attentive.ly was bootstrapped within, and then split off from Fission using venture capital.

Cheryl has been listed among The Influencers 50 in Campaigns and Elections magazine. She was named as an Affiliate of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She was inducted into the first The Root 100 list of established and emerging African-American leaders. Huffington Post included her as one of the Top 27 Female Founders in Tech to Follow on Twitter in 2011, as did Black Enterprise. Fast Company named her one of their 2010 Most Influential Women in Tech.

Cheryl has been featured in many media outlets including Washington Post, New York Times, Vanity Fair, San Francisco Mag, C-SPAN, Black Enterprise, BBC, MSNBC & CNN. She serves on several boards and advisory committees including Netroots Nation & Greenpeace USA.

She is also the author of the Amazon bestseller, “Mechanical Bull: How You Can Achieve Startup Success.”

About this Episode

Against the Odds: Selling a SaaS Business to a NASDAQ Company

Did you know, more people have been to the moon - 17 people in fact - than do what our latest guest, Cheryl Contee did?

Attentive.ly, a SaaS company providing social listening services for non-profits was the first tech startup with a black female founder in history to be acquired by Blackbaud, a NASDAQ-traded company.

And it wasn’t easy. With only 2-4% of venture capital (any kind) goes towards female founders of businesses (even though women buy 75-80% of everything), Cheryl and her business partner proved that not only is it possible to invest in a team that looks completely different to the norm and still produce a good result, but it’s very likely going to pay off.

What you will learn in this episode

In this episode we’ll cover everything from:

  • Lower churn in your SaaS app
  • Evaluate an M&A professional to sell your company
  • Leverage the power of relationships to find an acquirer
  • Get an acquirer to reveal their product roadmap
  • Ensure an acquirer doesn’t decide to compete with you
  • Think about the four types of financial outcomes from selling your business
  • Avoid the biggest regret Cheryl has about her exit

Connect with Cheryl Contee

Show Notes

(4:45) With her foot in the door of marketing and technology, but also the non-profit sector, Cheryl was able to tap into an $800B a year industry with her SaaS company, Attentive.ly.

(16:13) Learn what it means to be an intrapreneur. This is sage advice for anyone looking to go off on their own, or pivot from their current career.

(27:32) It takes an average of 7 introductions to get funding for a white female entrepreneur. It takes 50 to get funding for a black female entrepreneur.

(29:21) Diversity makes you richer. Studies have proven they’re more innovative, more productive, and more profitable. So, if you want ROI, you need DEI.

(36:49) Every tech entrepreneur faces a decision at some point: To raise again or to exit. Here’s how Cheryl navigated this when she came to the crossroad.

(45:37) A number is what a company is willing to pay for another company. Cheryl’s number involved her investors, her and her business partner’s payout, as well as their impending runway. Here’s how she came up with it.

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