Technology Buyers Risk Getting Burned by Vendors Who Take Outside Funding

Technology Buyers Risk Getting Burned by Companies Who Take Outside Funding

I often write about business and values from the point of view of the CEO of a privately held company. And as a business owner, I take great pride in using a business model that I believe delivers the most value for our clients. That being said, I am the first to warn of the “evils” of Private Equity or Venture Capital backed business models.

My software company, Synthesis Technology, is frequently pursued by a range of PE firms.  Our latest recognition by Inc. Magazine as “one of the fastest-growing private companies in America,” brought dozens of these firms out of the woodwork. Naturally they are all interested in a company with a successful business model, a recurring revenue structure, and actual profits.  They all try to get the door opened by offering “growth equity” and being willing to give the founders the opportunity “to take some of their money off the table.”  I entertain a very select few of these advances to make sure I know what the options are and the mood of the industry.  We’ve actually walked away from real offers.

The reason we don’t take the money is two-fold.

One, we don’t exactly represent the type of enormously scalable business most of these outside investors crave.

Two, as soon as there are professional money managers in the mix, our firm’s priorities would have to shift.

And that’s what this blog post is really about; how money and outside investors change a company, and usually not toward the best interest of its clients, employees, or owners.

Continue reading

Thoughts on Growing a Tech Business Organically

Inc 5000

A couple weeks ago, it was announced that my company, Synthesis Technology, made this year’s Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in America. It is a great feeling to be listed among the many successful companies across the U.S.

Synthesis experienced tremendous growth (98%) from 2011-2014, which qualified us for this elite award. It is very humbling to receive an honor like this and it is a testament to the hard work and dedication of not only our employees, but our clients as well. Day in and day out, we work together to make investment management firms more efficient and productive with their marketing efforts, while minimizing their business risks.

Over the past few days, I took some time to reflect on how we got here. What key factors lead to high-growth? How does being a privately-held organization impact growth? How can we sustain our growth as we look to the future? I wanted to share some of my thoughts and lessons learned as well as thank those that have helped us along the way. Continue reading

Why Your 2015 Goals are Likely to Fail

Are SMART goals actually that smart?

At the start of the New Year, I set about to give a company-wide presentation on the topic of creating successful goals and plans for 2015.  It’s sort of traditional to use the New Year to renew your focus on setting goals and priorities; and I wanted to inspire our teams to really get focused on what they want to accomplish this year.

As I was preparing for this presentation, I found myself going down the path of the typical goal-setting advice and espousing the traditional SMART methodology, which says to be valid and successful, goals should be:

  • Specific
  • Measureable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Or should they?

Continue reading

Should you Insource or Outsource Tech Solutions? 6 Criteria to Guide Your Decisions

by John Toepfer

Should you Insource or Outsource Tech Solutions? Use these 6 Criteria to Guide Your Decision

For most software development projects, both internal and externally sourced, success is not a binary equation.  There are often compromises or partial satisfaction in either scenario.  At the end of the day, the question becomes, how large were the compromises and, taken as a whole, do they equate to a failure of the project?

Over my 25 year career in delivering software solutions to major corporations, I’ve seen both commercial solutions and internal development efforts that have struggled.  My observation, however, is that commercial solutions are much more likely to succeed in the end and to represent the smart and sustainable path.  It’s amazing how often I watch internal development initiatives that either never get off the ground or fail in some crucial way.  In either case, the remedy is to write off that investment and start over shopping for a commercial solution.

As you’re reading, you might argue that my evaluation is biased based on the fact that I own and operate a technology firm. However, if success or failure of an internal technology development effort is measured against the same criteria as a vendor solution, then bias is not a factor. Continue reading

Will Your Startup Succeed? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

by John Toepfer

Will your startup succeed?

As an entrepreneur with a fairly lengthy career focused on starting and growing small businesses, I am often approached by people and asked to invest in their ideas or evaluate their business plans.  The types of businesses plans that cross my desk range from brew-pubs and gyms to educational media and software development companies.  In reviewing these plans and then observing what happens to the businesses that are eventually created, I’ve developed somewhat of a series of litmus test questions that  can tell me pretty quickly if the idea will grow legs.

Nobody can guarantee the success or failure of any startup business.

I’m sure there are plenty of now successful businesses that I would have pronounced DOA.  But let’s call this “my four questions that tell me if you stand a fighting chance.” Continue reading

How Successful Companies Achieve Excellence

by John Toepfer

Creating a Culture of Success

This article originally appeared on the Synthesis Technology Blog.

As a business owner and consultant for nearly 25 years I’ve become a keen observer of businesses and love to learn what makes them tick.  I find myself filling out a mental evaluation card on just about any business I encounter. I’m particularly inquisitive about what makes a company truly great (or not) and what the key drivers of the business are.

Every once in a while I encounter a business that really catches my attention for the excellence they exude.  I know for a fact that excellence doesn’t happen by accident so when I see an organization behaving in this manner I immediately start looking for root causes and asking questions: Continue reading

Smudge control: 6 tips for taking a company from good to great

by John Toepfer

Smudge control: 6 tips for taking a company from good to greatThis article originally appeared on the Synthesis Technology Blog.

I spent time at the Chicago Auto Show this weekend.  I enjoy getting a look at all the latest feats in automotive engineering; the new Corvette’s design, the economy of the plug-in Focus Eco, the luxury of the Jaguar XF.  Finding a billion dollars of R&D on display for close inspection under one roof is pretty close to heaven for me.  I also enjoy studying merchandising and marketing of cars.  There is enormous effort put into the presentations at this show and what we see tells us a lot about the manufacturers and the market.

As I wandered the rows of gleaming and carefully positioned vehicles, I couldn’t help but notice how many of those pristine polished paint jobs were besmirched by smudgy hand prints – sometimes in the oddest places too. (Timmy, did you have to smear your churro on that rocker panel?)

This is an auto show; land of first impressions and shiny fenders.  Shouldn’t someone be circulating the Chevy pavilion, polishing rag and spray wax in hand, ready to mop-up churro grease and dropped popcorn bits without delay?  So I began to take note of what brands did indeed have “smudge control” in their auto show game plan.  Which ones anticipated the problem and had the solution planned and staffed?  Acura and Ford accomplished this as well as a handful of others.  Good for them. And shame on those who didn’t. Continue reading