Five time founder and entrepreneur in different industries. My companies have won several Inc. 500/5000 and Best Places to Work and Fastest Growing Company awards, In 2014 I received the CEO of the Year Award from the San Diego Entrepreneur Organization and the 40 under 40 Award from the San Diego Metro Magazine. As an entrepreneur I’ve raised a seed round, venture capital and experienced several liquidity/exit events.
I love investing in others. Seven former direct reports have successfully started companies after working with me. I was a key leader in a market consolidation of over 40 companies, involved in the M&A process and directly led a team that consolidated 10-companies into one business unit. This company scaled from $70M to over $1.5B in valuation in 2 years. In 2017, we won the Private Equity Deal of the Year for our stellar results.
Over the years I have worked with 50+ organizations on their strategic planning, growth, M&A strategies and exit plan. In 2018, 6 of the companies were on the Inc. 500/5000 Fastest Growing list. I have or currently work with companies seeking an exit, either preparing them for an ideal sale or to become a platform company for market consolidation. I am an active advisor or shareholder in several current platform consolidations.
Entrepreneurs create enormous value but often don’t experience this to the level they should.
I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs win big and love both the challenge and the incredible impact this can have in people’s lives. I am grateful that I have been able to see this process play out several times with the same amazing results.
The Longer Story
My first job out of college lasted less than 6-months. I was hired as a recruiter at a publicly traded company where I had interned 6-months prior to graduating. But after being hired full time I hit six months and looked into the mirror realizing the corporate world wasn’t for me. My corporate job was killing me because I was an entrepreneur at heart. I had always been entrepreneurial as a kid, coming up with business ideas, creating money making programs and thinking outside the box. So I took the leap and I started my first company.
The first company I started was a staffing & recruiting company in Seattle in 1996 and as fortune would have it within months I landed Amazon.com as a client. Over the next several years we helped Amazon hire 435 people and I grew my company to several offices and hired a team to run operations. Fun fact, at the time to be hired by Amazon in Customer Service you had to prove you scored a 1200 or higher on the SAT exam. And the stock options of the first group of Customer Service reps that we placed were worth over $500,000 by the end of their first year. Two years after starting this company I received three offers to buy it, so I excited and started a dot-com.
Over the next two decades I went on to start five different companies, raise a seed round from Nordstrom executives, went to Sand Hill to raise venture capital, sold two companies and lastly built one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the US.
But my entrepreneurial run took a dramatic turn in 2015. In 2015 I sold the SaaS company I founded. This was one of the more difficult decisions I’ve made in my career. I loved this company. We had won numerous awards for our growth, as one of the best places to work and I won several personal awards such as the CEO of the Year from the Entrepreneur’s Organization. Two companies pursued to buy us and when I thought about no longer being an entrepreneur building this company, it was an existential crisis. I loved and believed wholeheartedly in our vision and the team. Why would I give that up? Could I start over again and be as successful? What would it be like to join the one of the groups that acquired us? How would I handle having a ‘boss’ for the first time since my gig out of college? All of these were issues I had to work through but for a variety of reasons I ultimately agreed to sell. We ultimately sold to a Private Equity-backed group who was seeking to consolidate the market we were in.
While there are a lot of horror stories about private equity, I am glad I took the leap into the Private Equity world.
I often say it was like I was in a sandbox, happily playing with all my toys and this experience was like someone lifted my head and I realized I was on the beach in my sandbox. There was sand everywhere to play in! It was a total mindset shift. Why had I limited myself to only play in this tiny box when I could have enjoyed the vast beach all around me?
I became part of a group that ended up buying 40 companies that went on to sell for $1.5B and become the 2017 PE Deal of the Year. My mind was blown by the consolidation opportunity and how little I or the entrepreneurs I knew understand what drives valuation, post-acquisition economics and how to capitalize on this. For example, a company we bought for about $30M was immediately worth $90M+ to us. There were so many things I wished I had know prior to this experience!
Entrepreneurs create so much value but don’t get as much as they should when they sell. So after a second exit with this group and realizing my leadership team were fully capable to execute without me, I decided to step down. I took a year off and thought about what I would want to do freed from having my motivation to be the need to make money. I decided to come back to help entrepreneurs reverse engineer what I learned so that they can experience exponentially more value than through a typical exit.
So now I work with entrepreneurs who want to accelerate their vision, get multiple liquidity opportunities and build life-changing wealth. I have been able to see this process play out several times with the same amazing results. I am passionate about this and love both the challenge and the incredible impact this can have in people’s lives.