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Sunday, November 27, 2022

A Spotlight on the Invisible Start-ups in the Technology Industry

Alexis Grant believes that it is OK for a start-up to be merely OK.

For nascent technological businesses, it might seem as though there are only two possible outcomes: tremendous success with Ferraris and Ferragamo for everyone, or gigantic failure. This is especially true in our imaginations and popular culture. Companies that either transform the world or fail while attempting to do so are the ones about which people write books and film movies.

When it comes to the Silicon Valley myth, it completely overlooks the huge middle ground that exists between the implausible and the inexcusable. Grant is making an attempt to fill the hole.

Grant developed They Got Acquired, a website and database last month to track the founders of internet start-ups who have sold their companies for between $100,000 and $50 million in a single transaction.

For the majority of us, a company sale on that size would be a dream come true. The founder of a start-up firm once puzzled me when he seemed sorry about the fact that his prior company had been sold for “just” tens of millions of dollars while I was still relatively new to writing about technology companies. One thing I rapidly discovered was that, in the age of TikTok and Theranos, a million dollars — or, even worse, a billion dollars — is as disappointing as a single potato chip in a bag.

Grant, a former journalist and start-up founder in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, believes that when our culture glamorises businesses that grow to be billion- or trillion-dollar enterprises and the founders who work nonstop, people who are slowly and steadily building more modest young companies can feel left out — particularly if they are parents like her and her husband, who are both entrepreneurs.

“It may lead to a sense of failure for a lot of individuals – is that the only way to succeed?” says the author. Grant expressed himself. “However, the fact is that there are several approaches to establishing a new business.”

In part, They Got Acquired is a tactical how-to guide for company entrepreneurs, which Grant describes as being something she wanted she had when she began her two prior start-ups. In addition, it is partially a kind of encouragement for those who are building start-ups that may not have billions of customers, but which are still gratifying for their founders and staff.

In Grant’s words, “There are a lot of individuals that establish [start-ups] in this fashion, but they’re frequently not acknowledged.” In my opinion, this is a more desired way, and it seems to be a more attractive one for many others.

During the epidemic, there was a significant increase in the number of Americans who formed their own businesses. Grant is attempting to spotlight entrepreneurs other than Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg as role models for young people.

It was mostly because Grant believed there was something lacking for folks like her that she decided to launch They Got Acquired.

In the course of a decade, she founded and sold two internet companies, as well as assisting in the development of a third, the financial website The Penny Hoarder. When it came time to sell, Grant was completely befuddled. In Grant’s words, “I had no idea where to begin or where I might locate the appropriate people to assist me.”

Starting in 2010, They Got Acquired has been gathering information on start-ups, such as their revenue and an estimate of their purchase price. Grant anticipates that the data will assist other company owners in gaining a better understanding of what their firms could be worth should they decide to sell.

In addition to interviews with start-up founders being published on the website, a forthcoming podcast series will include entrepreneurs who will share practical methods and strategies. Jodie Cook, the founder of a social media firm, explained to They Got Acquired how she ensured that the company could continue to run without her involvement.

A mother and daughter pair, Marianne Edwards and Anna Maste, who developed an online network for recreational vehicle travellers, caught Grant’s attention. “It was a beautiful business narrative,” Grant said. They sold their firm for at least $1 million last year, Grant said, noting that she was heartened by the fact that Maste originally worked on her company for just a few hours a week at the beginning.

After receiving an email from a friend who knows Grant, I was struck by a “aha” moment when I discovered They Got Acquired. I’ve previously written on the start-up system that strives for and rewards the most ambitious ideas.

That has the potential to lead to game-changing technologies such as Tesla’s electric automobiles and Google’s search engine, among others. However, it may also lead to entrepreneurs exaggerating the capabilities of their technology, causing them, their families, and their workers to get fatigued. I think it is good to see more confetti and support for taking an alternative route.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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