“This interview is with two business owners who bootstrapped their business instead of taking outside financing.  They were able to grow their business to 140 employees before they sold to a strategic buyer,” states Sam Thompson, a Minneapolis business broker and the president of Transitions In Business. “One technique they used to land sought-after employees was to offer equity in their business to many employees.”

Mike Watson and Ganesh Ramakrishna built Opex Analytics to 140 employees before they sold it to PE-backed LLamasoft in the fall of last year.

Opex is in the business of helping Fortune 500 companies get their products from a manufacturing plant into a customer’s hands. It’s what data geeks call supply chain design, and it’s a big business — especially these days when many people are working from home, and COVID-19 has changed the game for anyone who sells a physical product.

This episode illustrates the definition of a strategic acquisition: LLamasoft wanted to bring more AI to their customer’s decision making, and Opex was a seamless addition. There is lots to learn from listening to Mike and Ganesh, including:

  • How to maintain negotiating leverage (even after signing a Letter of Intent)
  • How to hire highly sought-after employees
  • How to bootstrap your way to 140 employees without raising money
  • Why service companies often fail to build products (and why the inverse is not true)
  • The intricacies of sharing equity with employees
  • Why diligence is like giving birth — painful at the time but worth it in the end

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