The Big Exit Show: Taking a SaaS-company public twice – The story of Stian Rustad from 24SevenOffice


The Big Exit Show: Taking a SaaS-company public twice - The story of Stian Rustad from 24SevenOffice cover

🎧 Explore the Journey of 24SevenOffice on The Big Exit Show!

This time, we’re featuring Stian Rustad, who established the pioneering Norwegian ERP cloud solution, 24SevenOffice, in 1997, together with his co-founder Espen Antonsen. Stian, who currently resides in Bali with his family, has successfully taken his company public twice and led a series of strategic acquisitions, including Fullstak (previously owned by our portfolio founder, Chris Moen from Breyta).

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • Taking a SaaS-scaleup public to the stock exchange to raise funds 🤑
  • How to choose the right stock exchange 🏦
  • Knowing when to hire a full-time CEO to focus on other tasks, such as internationalization 🗺️
  • Developing an early version of a cloud company even before AWS or Azure ☁️
  • How to compete against large industry players like Microsoft and SAP 🏋️

As always – hosted by Peak’s very own co-founder and managing partner Johan van Mil and podcast host Remy Gieling🕺🏻🕺🏼

You can find the episode on your favorite podcast platform, linked below. And, if you are really interested in listening to the big exit of specific founders – reach out to us so we can invite them for the next episode!

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You can find the transcribed version of the episode below:

Stian: I thought it was too early to take the company public. For me, it was the only solution that we had at that time because, still the ecosystem wasn’t really working. Our only option at that time, to raise quite a lot of money, was to take it public.

VO: Starting a company is easy. Selling your company, that’s a different story. In The Big Exit Show by Peak, we lift the curtain of secrecy around selling businesses by speaking to ambitious and successful founders, who have been on this roller coaster before. Our hosts, venture capital investor Johan van Mil and business journalist Remy Gieling.

Remy: Yes, Johan, we’re back once again at your home, and we’re sitting here in the rain. Well, we’re inside, but outside is raining. And our guest today is calling in all the way from Bali. So he is the better end of the deal, I guess.

Johan: I think, he is. And it was a fabulous story, Stian Rustad, Norwegian entrepreneur. I met him a few years ago when I was speaking at a conference [00:01:00] in–

Remy: In Oslo.

Johan: –in Oslo indeed. And I think he has a really fantastic story. He launched his company 25 years ago.

Remy: The first SaaS ERP system in the world, basically.

Johan: Yes, yes, indeed. And he was the first one running on the cloud, right? That’s really magnificent. We had Exact before which was also the first one in the cloud. And now, we have a second company, which first ran on the cloud.

Remy: I don’t think anyone’s heard of the cloud in 1997.

Johan: No, in those days. Yes, and I had a company those days. And it was really specific that you were running in the cloud because companies didn’t like it those days because it was all about data trust but also what’s happening on the web, et cetera, because everybody was hosting it on premise. And he launched that company. He took it also public those days, not to bring it public, as a lot of entrepreneurs aim to be, but just to raise money, because those days, you didn’t have a lot of investors–

Remy: They weren’t overseas.

Johan: Indeed, and that’s a fantastic story. And then after a few years, he took it back from the stock market again.

Remy: Yes, he bought it back.

Johan: He bought it back. And then he brought it back–


Remy: [crosstalk 00:01:59.8]

Johan: –to the stock market, in this case, of Sweden because that market was way mature.

Remy: Yeah.

Johan: And I think this is a very good example of, let’s say, a resiliency that the entrepreneur has because he started the company 25 years ago, and he’s still running it.

Remy: Yeah.

Johan: He changed also the role, what he’s typically good at, so staying an entrepreneur in these days’ listed company. And what I like is that he invests also, let’s say, the proceeds that he has gained with his companies in other companies. So he’s also active as an angel investor. And by the way, what I found really interesting is that he also used that money to buy back his own company.

Remy: Yeah. Yes. So he told us in the podcast, you will hear it in a second, that he sold a few of his shares in other companies to buy back indeed his own company. And that’s from the stock market.

Johan: And investors talk about recycling their money, and it means recycling your money as an entrepreneur, right? So that’s a very good example, I think.

Remy: And the last thing I really liked is that apparently, we have to change the name of the show because it’s a really anti-exits, you [00:03:00] say. [laughter] Why would you ever want to exit your company? It’s so fun, The Big Exit Show, The No Exit Show. Let’s think about it.

Johan: Awesome. I can’t wait. Let’s start the show. So Stian, what’s the heroic story behind 24SevenOffice?

Stian: Yeah, that was a tough one starting right on. Yeah. So I think the special thing about 24SevenOffice is that we’re the first cloud-based ERP system in the world. So we started developing web-based application. Long before it was any clouds, people didn’t know the word SaaS. We didn’t have any clouds where we can get cloud services or whatever. So we had to program everything from scratch. We actually programmed it line by line in notepad, developing the first system. So I think the special thing about our company is that we started so early before [00:04:00] anyone even thought about internet as a perfect place for running applications.

Johan: And what’s the real story behind 24SevenOffice?

Stian: Yes, the real story is that it’s been a long journey. We’re doing this for 25 years. So when I started, I knew that it would take a while for internet to be mature enough and the customers to really understand that this is the way to go. We had several years when the customers thought that internet wasn’t safe enough. They were afraid of their data, et cetera.

So I think the real story about 24SevenOffice is that we were really, really too optimistic about how long time everything would take for the technology to be mature enough, the browsers to be mature enough, the customers to really [00:05:00] want to work cloud-based and understand what cloud-based are.

So when I started, I thought it would take five to six years maybe, but it actually took 10 years before the customers started to really evaluate cloud-based system as an alternative and even much more time before they really started to only want cloud-based systems. So that surprised us. And that was a heavy lifting, especially because at that time, there were no ecosystem for investments in Norway, there were hardly any IT investors, there were no seed funds, there were no VCs focusing on internet and growth companies.

So we had to do a lot of funding by taking different consultancy work programs, special programs for other customers. [00:06:00] We had computer courses. We took care of servers, on-premise servers. So it was a complete different environment to start a company back then than it is now in Norway. And another thing is that we didn’t have any tools to develop. So we had to develop everything from scratch. And now, we have so much open-source code. We have so much cloud-enabled software in the different cloud services like Azure or Amazon. So yes, it’s been a long journey.

VO: The start.

Johan: Take us back to the early days of 24SevenOffice for a second. You just mentioned what it was like building software but where did you find the server space, and how did you find your clients, and how did you convince them as a very young gentleman back then to work with such a young company?


Stian: Yeah, so since there were no clouds, we had to develop our own clouds. So I started– that was my second startup. I started the cloud company, kind of early version of Amazon, ABS or Azure from Microsoft. So we developed that and created our own cloud company. That’s also one of my exits. I sold it like six, seven years ago. So that was one of the issues that we had to solve.

When that was sold, we, of course, had a lot of work to do to program the first version to make it work. And I think we got our first customer in 1999. I don’t even remember who the first customer was. But from then, it was quite slow. It was more like one customer. And then maybe a month after, it was another customer. [00:08:00] I think it was as long as 10 years before the growth were really kind of picking up.

Johan: Why did you go for the ERP software market? Because that’s I think one of the hardest software backbone systems you can build as an entrepreneur. So why did you decide this was the way to go?

Stian: One of the reasons was that I had family members who run their own company. And I saw how hard it was to run those on-premise ERP systems. You had to operate them. You had to renew your server park. They had to have a backup system. And people always had problem with upgrading, doing a real safe backup, and even take the backup to a third location.

So I saw that it was really, really hard for them, and it was expensive. And it was also difficult [00:09:00] to work from other places than at the office. So we always had to go to the office or to your back store or whatever to do your work. So I thought internet would solve all those problems. So that’s what motivated me to create that kind of system.

Johan: And how did, let’s say, your first clients respond to the idea to do it fully from the cloud, right? Because you were the first player. There was nothing on the cloud those days. What was, let’s say, the feedback as a real innovators in the space?

Stian: The thing is that they loved the idea. And since we were so early and everybody knew that there were early adapters, they were so forgiving for any problems or bugs that we had. So the first customers that we had were actually very, very happy. And they were feeling that they were a part of a new innovation and development. They were doing something important to help us develop this system. So all the first customers, [00:10:00] they stayed for a very long time. I see that we still have customers that we had for over 20 years.

Remy: There were also some concerns, I remember back in the day, when the cloud was getting more and more attention that these large corporations said, “Well that’s not safe and data and privacy issues and security issues…” Did you get those questions as well? And how did you tackle them?

Stian: Yes, that was the tricky part, I think the most tricky part, because people didn’t really understand what internet was. And they had all those concerns that you were mentioning. But the way that we put them is that we try to explain to them that the way you have it today, that’s the real security issue because you don’t have any professional people watching over your firewall every day like we do, and every night and every hour. And we all have all this. We always are upgraded. We are [00:11:00] always paying attention to our systems.

But for me, it would be very easy to hack into your system now because you’re actually using email. So then your system is actually, completely open to me. So if I wanted to shut your system down, we could do it. If you get virus, your entire network could be shut down. But with our system, the chances of being hacked or shut down or whatever is actually much, much smaller. So I tried to convince them by convincing actually how vulnerable the system that they had on-premise today was. And that worked. So then they started to think.

Johan: Hmm, and then eight years later, you took the company public.

Stian: Yes.

Johan: Can you take us back to that moment in time? Because as you mentioned also before, right? The ecosystem was not very vibrant at that time. There were not a lot of VCs. There wasn’t a lot of money. You fully bootstrapped. And still, you were able to take your company public. How did you make the decision? [00:12:00] And also how did you, let’s say, experience that trajectory?

Stian: The thing is that when we took it public, I thought it was too early to take the company public. So for me, it was just a solution. That was the only solution that we had at that time because still, the ecosystem wasn’t really working. So if I was, at that time, running my company from the US, it wouldn’t be any problem. And I would find growth capital, and VCs, and whatever. So our only option at that time, to raise quite a lot of money, was to take it public. So we did that.

And another thing is that we did that right before the financial markets crashed. And the thing is that we worked every night and every day because we had this feeling that the markets were very unstable. And we were having friends that was watching the situation in the US, et cetera. So we were tipped that we should get this company listed [00:13:00] before the summer. As you remember, the market crashed in August. So we were just in time to raise the money, the first time.

And as I thought, it was a little bit too early to take the company public. And with the financial crisis coming right after, it was a terrible journey for the shareholders as well. But for me and the team, we believe that this is a perfect opportunity. So a few years later, we bought it back and took it off the Norwegian Stock Exchange.

Johan: So you raised the capital with that, let’s say, to finance the growth of the company, so to be less dependent on the consultancy, et cetera?

Stian: Yes.

Johan: But you mentioned also that shareholders were not really happy, probably because the stock price went down. How did you–? Because I think also for a CEO, if you have a public company, and also you were, those days, pretty young still, how did you deal with that, let’s say, situation also with being visible in the press as a listed company, shareholders? How did you deal with that?

Stian: That was actually [00:14:00] quite tough because when people put money into your company and then there’s the biggest largest financial crisis ever since the stock crashed in 1929. So that was terrible, of course, for the investors. And a lot of them were very stressed because we had too many of investors that wasn’t really professional. They have put too much on one stock, and they were really dependent on this going well.

So it put a lot of pressure on the management and the team. But we can’t do anything about the bear market, the financial crisis, and the stock price. So it was quite tough actually, and it was tough to see all the shareholders were very frustrated at that time. And that took a lot of focus and energy, I would say. So I would rather be without that situation.

Remy: Was that also the reason you took it private again even– most these days, there’s a lot of talk about entrepreneurs bringing company public [00:15:00] and then just hating it?

Stian: Yeah. So that’s, of course, a lot of overhead to have a listed company. And we were quite small organization. We’re still quite small organization at that time. So we spent a lot of time and energy. And we didn’t see any future for the stock in Norway either because we didn’t have enough IT investors still at that time. That’s totally changed now. But for us, it was just a distraction to be on the stock exchange. And of course, we felt that the stock price was very low at that time compared to the underlying values. So we thought it was a good deal to take it off the stock exchange.

Johan: And how do you finance it then?

Stian: Yeah, so we bought quite a lot of stocks because I did other exits. So I’ve been working as an angel investor for at least 20 years. So I had a few [00:16:00] exits. I was able to buy a great deal of the stocks, but we also managed to get all agree, all shareholders because we didn’t have that money. I think we had 200 shareholders or something at that time. So we managed to get all of them agreed to say that we delist the company. And I think we managed to get at least 99% something, 99.5% of the capital wanted to delist it. And then we were allowed to delist it by the stock exchange. So it was one of those two in combination, yes.

Johan: And that’s great that you can use, let’s say, your angel investments returns on buying back your own company from the listing?

Stian: Yeah, that was very fortunate.

Remy: Yes, so you are– it’s a small company in size of employees, I think, for the market you’re in. I think they’re 200-plus employees?

Stian: Yeah.

Remy: Somewhere in that space?

Stian: Sure.

Remy: Yeah.

Stian: I would guess we’re around 210 employees now, yeah.

Remy: So how do you compete [00:17:00] against the big giants, like SAP, for example, who have thousands of thousands of people working there?

Stian: Yes, that’s quite interesting because we compete with a lot of big players like Microsoft, and SAP, and NetSuite. And Wisma is quite big in the Nordic player. And we beat them a lot of the times when we compete. So as long as we can get into the negotiation table with the customer, we win quite a lot of the percentage of the cases. And the reason for that is the combination that we have been doing this for a very long time. So of course, we have developed a very stable, scalable solution. I spent a lot of time to make it super scalable, fast, redundant, and remove bugs, et cetera.

And there’s also a lot of customers who like that we are smaller, and we can give them more attention. They feel like they can even call me [00:18:00] or the CEO, or whatever, if there’s a major problem. But if you try to do the same with SAP, that wouldn’t be possible. So if there’s something really wrong, you will just have to sit there doing nothing. So there’s a lot of different drivers that makes us close the deal, but I think those are two most important things.

Johan: Yes, and I can underpin this because I met Stian one time before in Oslo. And we were drinking a beer in the evening at the bar. And really, he ran into a client he just met, et cetera, right? He had some questions, so I think you’re really, I think, the prototype of a founder, who’s really involved in the company, especially in the space. And comparing 24SevenOffice to, let’s say, the other players, what is your ICP? What’s your typical client, which you think has to choose 24SevenOffice compared to, let’s say, the other parties which are in the market?

Stian: Yes, so I think we’re perfect when you typically grow out of the [00:19:00] small micro-based ERP system. Typically, when you have like 10, 15 users, you need different user rights. You need more complex– maybe a group of companies, and you have to have group accountings, et cetera. So when you grow out of the small ones and up to like a few 100 employees.

Remy: So in the early days, as in SaaS company, you often do the sales yourself as a founder or as a founding team. You onboard clients yourself, you’d talk to them. But at one point, you need to find new ways to scale up the marketing and sales efforts, to find more clients. Otherwise, you can never reach the 20,000 clients.

Stian: Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Remy: So what were some of the best practices in finding the clients, in scaling up the marketing and sales efforts, that it was not just [00:20:00] you selling it, but that you could onboard many clients a week?

Stian: Yeah, that’s a tricky– the very tough period when you try to hire new people, and some of them might not work, and you don’t really have the money to scale up the organizational marketing as much as you want. You may hire a few sales people, but you don’t really have enough money to do the marketing enough to fill up their pipeline, et cetera. So that’s a really, really tough period, which as a serial entrepreneur. I’ve seen that so many times, and also as a as a startup investor. So that was the toughest period.

But somehow, we managed to combine it. We found some really good sales people. So we were kind of lucky as well to find the right people. So a combination of finding really good people, where we had this opportunity [00:21:00] to give them shares. That’s why we probably had better people working for us than the paycheck would let us normally have.

Remy: And I can imagine that especially if you want to sell an ERP solution to an entrepreneur because typically, the founder is still in control of the companies where you sell your product to, then of course the personal relationship is really important, right?

Stian: Yeah.

Remy: So there’s a lot of manual sales. There’s a lot of sales people, right? And finding the right talent to convince customers,+ and to help them on board your solution successfully, right?

Stian: That’s right. So it’s super important with the competent people, and they have to be more complex solution-based sales people. You cannot just hire people that are ++good at selling smaller, simpler things. And they also had to find consultants who could implement the system. And that was also hard to train consultants, find the right level of– [00:22:00] amount of marketing, and hire enough sales people. And I think we were struggling about this balance all the way until five, six, seven years ago. Then we became so big that we can always hire more people than we actually needed at that particular time.

Johan: Yeah, because if I go back to the moment that you took 24SevenOffice off the stock market and took it private again 2013, you’ve been running the company then for six years. What happened in the years after because at a certain moment, you took it public again? Can you take us back, I say, to those years when you took it private again and didn’t have the burden of being a listed company and also taking more control? What happened then in those years?

Stian: Yeah, that was a really good period because we could focus all our energy that we spent on shareholders and compliance, et cetera. And all the money for auditing and compliance, we could spend that [00:23:00] on more marketing and more sales and focus on creating good software. So we did a lot of stuff then. And we had a quite amazing growth in that period. And five years ago, I decided to quit as a CEO and move to the US. And at that time, the company was growing 40% year over year. And I thought now, it’s time to see if we can make it in the US.

So I moved to US with my family, and I was there for three years. Ir was super interesting. There’s a lot of, I guess, talk for hours about the adventure in the US. But now, I can jump right to the conclusion that it was a success. So now, the US operation is quite strong. It’s almost 20 people, and it’s growing almost 100% year over year. While the top [00:24:00] company is growing 35%. So we’re growing for smaller numbers. So of course, still, it’s really picking up and becoming, probably, our most important growth engine within a year or two.

Johan: And you decided at a certain point to take that international role and to have a CEO running the company. What made you decide to do that?

Stian: There were several reasons. One of the main reasons was that I thought that I was the best person to actually be able to pull it off to launch it in the US since I know so much. I’m still a lot in the details. I know the software the capabilities. I’m still capable of selling it, doing the support, whatever. So I thought that I was the only one who can run the project to make it compliant with the US regulations and still hire the team, start the marketing, [00:25:00] get the first customers on board, the first partners, et cetera.

So I thought I was, at least, the best person to do that. And it was also because I thought the company was going quite well. It was well run. So I thought it was a little bit boring, to be honest. So I wanted to do something really challenging again. And nothing is more challenging than starting in the competitive market of the US.

Johan: I like it that you keep your entrepreneurial role that way as a part of a listed company now, of course, again. But it’s still entrepreneurial in a new market, right? I like how you built that role for yourself.

VO: The Exit.

Remy: So back to The Exit. Because at one point, you took to a company private in 2013. But you took it public again, didn’t you?

Stian: Yeah, we did because after a while, we saw that was really booming markets on tech and SaaS companies. And we saw that, especially in Sweden. There was a very, very good investor environment around cloud and SaaS and IT. So the climate was very good to list the company again. So that’s what we did, and that was a much more successful listing. So what happened is that we listed at $35 million pricing. And we went up all the way on the top before the last recession again. We were at $350 million valuation. So that was much more successful. And we raised money almost on the top as well. So we have a lot of money now to do acquisition. That’s a perfect timing when you have a lot of cash in a bear market, where a lot of companies, like ourselves, have dropped 70% again. So we’re quite active on acquisitions now.

Johan: What are you looking [00:27:00] to buy in the market for acquisitions? What is your interest?

Stian: We’ve been focusing a lot on buying technology and functionality that we don’t have ourselves. One example is our latest acquisition. It’s an HRM system because we didn’t have an HRM module in 24SevenOffice. And we found this Danish company that has been working with HRM software for 20 years. So this amazing software had so much functionality, but they were not that successful in their sales and marketing. So we were able to buy them, and they were happy. And now, we’re implementing into our software. And we’ll give an amazing HRM system to all our customers. So that’s a typical acquisition that we do. We have done several acquisitions like that.

Johan: And I think it’s also a big advantage that you have as a listed company, right? So it’s easy to buy companies because of your stock price, but also the way that [00:28:00] you can list more shares and also can do a deal in shares, right? That’s also I think a big advantage you have.

Stian: Yeah, but that was a bigger advantage when our stock price was higher. So now, I think–

Johan: Yeah.

Stian: –we are underpriced. But the good things now is that we have cash. So we have plenty of cash. So now, we do all our acquisition in cash. But when the stock price will go back and I say when because it will, then, of course, we can start doing acquisition with shares again. But now, we’re focusing on the cash deals.

Remy: You make it sound so easy taking your company public and take it to private again, and then we’ll go in public again. Well what kind of entrepreneurs, who are building software companies, should think about this way of fundraising you reckon?

Stian: I think to take the company public is, I would say, that you should be very careful before you do that. You have to think about that twice. So you have to have the right growth, the right size, [00:29:00] the right team. So it’s really important to be listing ready. So I would advise entrepreneurs to try to find other ways to finance their company until they’re on that right level, based on my own experience. As I told you earlier, it’s quite hard to be too early on a stock exchange.

Johan: And what is the right moment do you think to take it public in terms of, let’s say, people growth and size, which you mentioned?

Stian: It should be at least, maybe around, I would say, 100. My gut feeling is like a minimum of 100 people. So we have a team and a middle management. You have a good CFO, and you have all the routines in place. And you have enough people to offload the burden. So you don’t have to do focus on everything yourself as a founder or CEO.

Johan: And in terms of revenue and growth, what do you see as– because you probably– I mean you’ve done it twice, so you looked into it, [00:30:00] what are roughly the benchmarks there?

Stian: I would take a company growing less than 20% on the stock exchange. Because then, you’ll probably fail both in the process or at least afterwards. So I would say around 30% growth. And if you have a stable team and a critical mass on your team, and if you’re not losing too much money, then the best thing, of course, would be, if you do not lose money, it’s smart to grow faster and lose a little bit more money. That’s my opinion because what you get paid for is your actual recurring revenue that you have at the end when you sell it. So it’s better to grow faster. But still, the stock markets, at least, in Nordics, they don’t appreciate companies losing too much money because they probably don’t understand all the dynamics around cloud-based or recurring revenue-based company.

Johan: Yeah, and in this slide, did you ever consider also taking your company public to, let’s say, the US stock market, [00:31:00] for example, the Nasdaq?

Stian: Yeah. We thought about the Nasdaq, but in the Sweden version of the Nasdaq because they they’re both stuck in a stock exchange in Sweden. So that’s one. We evaluated that one. But we thought it was a little bit too early. But that might be a next step to move to another list, which would continuously evaluate. But to take it on Nasdaq, we’re still a little bit too small. We have to be quite a lot bigger. But if we continue– like the last year, we grow 35%. And if we continue to grow 35% and do some acquisition, we might be there within a few years.

Remy: What’s your ambition for the future? What do you hope in client size? Or do you want to expand in more clients or in more revenue per client? What’s your ambition?

Stian: Yes, we do both. So now, we’re at the position that we have so many customers. So [00:32:00] when we launch new modules, we can do upsells of different modules. So we launched a new payroll system. We didn’t have a payroll system before. We launched that just a few six months ago or something. Now, we already have more than 2,500 companies using that, and with several thousands, thousands of thousands of employees, of course, using that payroll system. So we do that, like the HRM, we will soon launch that as our integrated module in our system. So we do upsell. And of course, we just grow organically to get new clients. And of course, we grow when we do acquisition as well because they have revenue.

But another thing that we focus a lot on is to go towards larger, even larger and larger customers. So we have quite– some really, really big customers on our system. Scania is using them to run all their projects. We have PwC as a customer. We [00:33:00] have [Ooda? 00:33:00]. So yeah, we have always getting bigger and bigger customers. And that’s really what we think will be an important growth factor for us, going forward.

Johan: Good to hear. Good to hear. I think we were getting a little bit to the end now also. What is your advice for entrepreneurs who are thinking about selling their company in the near future? You’ve done it a few times, brought your company to an IPO, got some investors in, took it back again, et cetera, but what would be your biggest advice for entrepreneurs who think about that?

Stian: I think my biggest advice would be not to sell their company. Continue and have fun, build something, just build something greater. I think a lot of entrepreneurs that I talk to actually regret that they sold their company. They get bored. So I think that would be my number one advice. Be really sure that you want to sell your company. And of course–

Remy: We should change the title to The No Big Exit Show.

Johan: No Big Exit Show.

Stian:: Yeah.


Remy: Sorry, please continue.

Stian: But the other [00:34:00] more serious advice, if you really want to sell it is, of course, make sure that you have good advisors. There’s such a big difference between good and bad advisors. And take your time, plan it. And that goes wherever you want to take it on the stock exchange or sell the company but I also sold other companies in my portfolio. So I’ve been through it all. So make sure that you find good advisors. Take your time. Try to find as many potential buyers as possible. And the same goes, if you want to take a– list the company, take your time to find the right anchor investors because it takes time. And if you just take the first investors that you find, that will probably not be a good idea because they might just sell the shares again right after the exit, or after the listing, sorry.

Johan: Yeah, we see it a lot. It’s funny that you say it, yes, because we see a lot that indeed entrepreneurs, the first advice that you give is entrepreneurs [00:35:00] starting– sorry, selling their company. And then afterwards, they really get bored and just start the same company more or less again, right? That’s what we see one. And secondly, indeed, we also had on the show I think a few times also, entrepreneurs mentioning that there was one bid, which was really too fantastic. And in that case, you also say *hire advisors to find more potential buyers to see if that’s the right price, right?

Stian: That’s really important. So there’s number one mistake I’ve seen that they just talked to one potential buyer that contacted them, instead of planning it ahead and really trying to find several buyers. That’s a very typical thing. And they think they get a very good bid and good price, but they’re actually not.

Johan: Yeah, they don’t know the right price, right? So if you think about selling your company, you ask. It’s good to involve advisors. There are all different kind of advisors, right? You have, let’s say, lawyers. You have accountants. You have investment bankers. You have also the big five companies helping with that, but also the small boutique agencies. [00:36:00] What are typically the advisors that you have good experience with hiring for such a process?

Stian: Yes, so for me, I’ve used all kinds of different– I’ve used the big corporate houses for 24SevenOffice because we’re big enough to actually get attention from them. But if you have a smaller company, you wouldn’t be able to get attention from them. So then you have to find more boutique kind of players. So it really depends on the price, the size of the deal, and the size of the company, et cetera. But when it comes to the smaller players, it’s so difficult if you don’t know them, if you don’t know their reputation to choose the right one.

So you should spend time on really talking to people in that business to find the ones that are really good. Because there’s a lot of people that seem good but they’re really not good. So that’s the problem, that you don’t know that [00:37:00] kind of business as an entrepreneur. And then you’re trying to find them and you really don’t know the quality. It’s easier when you’re my size because then, you really know who’s good and not because you have the big players.

Johan: Yeah, and also as an entrepreneur, you probably– and you’re in the unique position that you did it a few times already, but probably, you don’t sell your company every day, right? So you don’t have a lot of experience with it. So it’s good to work indeed with experienced partners also on that end, yeah.

Remy: Stian, thank you so much for your time and insights in this podcast today.

Stian: Thank you so much for having me. It’s always fun to talk about the 24SevenOffice. That’s what I love to talk about.

VO: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of The Big Exit Show by Peak. We hope you enjoyed today’s program. If so, please subscribe to our show on Spotify or on your podcast platform of choice. If you have feedback, let us know. Send us a message to [email protected]. Thanks again for listening, and we hope you join us for the next episode. See you soon.

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