Photo: Jacob Mullins
Jacob Mullins is a Senior Associate at Shasta Ventures, a venture capital firm that has invested in startups like Nest and Path.Lately, he’s had a lot of tough conversations with entrepreneurs. Founders are running out of cash because investors have gotten tighter with their money in recent months. Now entrepreneurs are facing the tough realisation that their startups probably won’t survive.
He created ExitRound, a place where struggling startups and large corporations can meet each other to discuss potential acquisitions. It’s the opposite of AngelList, a database where startup founders can meet potential investors. ExitRound is where startups can quietly raise the white flag and explore exit options.
It has the potential to be a powerful tool for entrepreneurs and help less connected founders land softly at companies where they don’t currently have contacts.
When startups get acquired by companies like Google or Yahoo, it’s usually because the founder and the company were already in touch. But if a founder doesn’t have many contacts, its exit options are limited. On ExitRound, the playing field can be leveled.
Founders have to apply to create an ExitRound profile and all listings are completely anonymous. Those who come highly recommended, are financially backed by VCs, or have gone through notable accelerator programs such as Y Combinator are favoured.
Once they’re granted access to ExitRound, founders can create anonymous profiles describing their executive teams and their business models.
Corporations can peruse the information for potential fits for their companies. If the corporation sees a startup it likes, it can message the founder, much like a LinkedIn InMail message.
The founder can either ignore the message or respond, which opens up the discussion.
Like a typical recruiter, Mullins will charge a fee for introducing the two if an acquisition occurs over ExitRound. The cost will be $10-20,000 per person acqui-hired.
Mullins will remain employed by Shasta Ventures while he works on ExitRound, although the two companies aren’t connected.
Mullins wants to avoid taking any venture capital for his startup, because he wouldn’t want to feel in any way like he had to push entrepreneurs to sell their companies.
But for the many startups who will inevitably need to figure out next steps, Mullins will be there to help them softly land.
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