Just Sold My #5 Tech Startup. What Should I do After Going to Disneyland?

I actually didn't sell the company but we sold the technology to another company. This type of transaction happens frequently because the acquiring party doesn't want to pick up unforeseen liability. That said, what should I do now? Take the family to Disneyland is a given -- but after that. How does a founder plan the next steps?

Exits can be the ultimate blank page.

Any exit — whether selling a tech company or leaving someone's employ (planned or unplanned) — is an opportunity for growth -- and yes, for many, anxiety. The good news is that no matter what the circumstance, it’s a blank page and we each get to decide what will be written on it.

This time, I'm hoping to leverage my entrepreneurial experience perhaps by joining an existing team with exciting prospects.

But after selling 5 startups, how does a guy get a "normal" job?

Of course I did this before -- when I sold startup #2. Ahem...that one was an epic failure.

Back then, I contacted a few Venture Capital friends and asked if they had a portfolio company that could use a guy like me. (Yes, you can have VC buddies; especially if you never take their money.) Each seemed excited and so I visited with several companies.

The CEOs of the two companies I found the most interesting worried that I had been sent by their money people to replace them (imagine that). Seriously, one said "you'd make a better CEO [blah blah blah]" and the other asked "should I be worried?"

I guess I'll interview myself.

So, I went on to found my next company. I interviewed myself and found that I was the right guy for the job!

So, here I was once again. Will things be different?

I don't know. This time, I decided to send a private message to each of my first-degree connections on LinkedIn. More importantly, I chose not to screen whether I thought a particular connection might know of something for me.

Here's the sharable message I sent to each:

"Hi [NAME],

[CUSTOM INTRO -- (short)].

I recently sold my 5th tech startup. I'm looking to leverage my entrepreneurial experience by joining an existing team with exciting prospects. Could you use a guy like me? 

My experience is vast in technology, strategic marketing, and business development. Having direct experience in many other areas occurring from a life as a serial entrepreneur -- I'm willing to help you build your company anywhere and in anyway you need. 

I’m excited to be casting a wide net. Attached is a copy of my resume.


P.S. If I can be of any assistance to you in any other way, please let me know. 

Please watch the 4th installment of my vid on LinkedIn: #NotOnMyResume.

If you merely want to make a YouTube or LinkedIn vid -- I'm happy to show you how.

The Results

I sent out approx. 200 customized messages a day for several weeks. These replies fell into three categories:

  1. "Thanks for sharing."
    This is one of LinkedIn’s automated response buttons… Microsoft AI at its best. I would reply, "Don’t you just love those AI buttons?" and frequently a real conversation would ensue.

  2. "We can’t afford someone like you but perhaps you might give us your opinion on something."
    I do my best here -- I'm a big fan of giving back -- but limit each appointment to 30 minutes, or it swallows my day.

  3. "Impressive resume … we might have something for you."
    Yay! Then starts the mutual due diligence. Some of these "opportunities" are interesting.

Where one works and what one does is very important to the individual.

Assisting a number of these opportunities is a great way to observe which opportunities bubble to the top that are creative, interesting and challenging. 

Here are some takeaways to consider if you are searching for your own opportunities:

  • #1: Pursue every angle.
    No matter what part of your life, do absolutely everything you can. Only then can the universe kick in and help you. One recent opportunity was the result sending the message above to a PhD student in Texas. Had I pared down my contact list to only those that I felt might know of something -- I would have missed that one. Be open.

  • #2: Learn to connect; not just sell.
    If all you do is deliver a product (or service) and take their money… they'll be your customer. But if you truly connect with people, they'll be your friend. Which would you rather speak to? Which would be more forgiving? Which would do something without expecting anything in return? Learning to connect is an art form you can learn, if you work for it. Mentoring helps in this area   

Why not do my own thing again?

Yes, that may be for me -- I have many ideas. Putting the ideas into a concrete plan and doing the work may be fun again.

Another takeaway as a side note:

Which is more exciting? Assembling a team around a great idea -- or assembling a great team of experts and coming together to form a wonderful idea together?

Either way -- wouldn't it be just as satisfying to join a great team that's properly funded? I think so. But I've always believed -- being open to anything -- moves one in the direction of success. 

Movie Quote: "[Pete] Who elected you leader of this outfit? [Ulysses] Well, Pete, I thought the leader should be the one with the capacity for abstract thought, but if that doesn't seem to be the case, hell, we'll put it to a vote. [Pete] Suits me. I'm voting for yours truly. [Ulysses] Well I'm voting for yours truly too. [Delmar] Okay… I'm with you fellas." —Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)