The how, when and why of exiting your startup

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At GeeknRolla this year a volcano in Iceland prevented Tommy Ahlers, founder of the Zyb mobile startup, from presenting in person at the event. We tried piping him in over that tried and tested technology known as Skype. Unfortunately it didn’t go off as planned, so Tommy’s excellent presentation was reduced to a bad audio feed. So I was delighted that he could reprise his speech at TechCrunch Nordic in Copenhagen last week.

The thrust of the speech was not about starting up with the aim of exiting your startup. But almost how, in not concentrating on the exit and instead building an awesome company and product you may end up exiting anyway, because you’ll just become attractive to potential suitors.

Tommy Ahlers, founder and CEO of mobile contacts app Zyb, which was sold to Vodafone in 2008 for €31.5 million, knows a thing or two about this subject.

Some main points from his speech included:

• If an exit is all you want, then you are focused on the wrong things. Focus on the product.
• Build users or revenue organically, rather than looking for the big sell.
• Finding a suitor is like dating – you need to look good and don’t pick your nose!
• You only get lucky if you work really hard.

After his speech, Google’s head of corporate development for EMEA Anil Hansjee, gave an insight into how Google goes about looking for startups to acquire.

The whole thing is a must watch.

TechCrunch Nordic – Tommy Ahlers from Mike Butcher on Vimeo.

  • everydaypanos

    Imagine if Bill Gates was acquired by IBM. Steve Jobs by Dell and the 2 Googlers by Yahoo!

    How different life would be today…? That is a much more interesting(and relevant) question than: To Sell or Not To Sell Your Startup.

    (P.S. Remember Macromedia. Flash was good back then.)

  • Frank Carver's Punch Barrel / Two good videos

    […] I watched an inspiring session from TechCrunch Nordic which likens achieving an “exit” for a startup company to dating. Fun, and with a […]

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  • picktorrrent

    He was previously with mcKinsey & Company  for more than four years, where he served as an engagement manager
    working with mobile operators to shape their strategies. In addition to
    ZYB, he also founded another start-up which provided a global
    SMS-service to mobile users. Ahlers holds a masters degree in law from
    the University of Copenhagen, graduating in 2000.

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