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How to Sell Your Startup

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How to Sell Your Startup

The Complete Guide to Running an M&A Process as a Founder

First Round Review,

5 min read
5 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

A comprehensive guide to selling a startup, from a serial founder. 

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Overview
  • Insider's Take


In this comprehensive guide, serial founder and angel investor Daniel Debow explores the nuances of pursuing an acquisition. He discusses the best mind-set for approaching the process, tips for pricing and advice for navigating the transition to an executive role. Debow also explains why selling can serve the best interests of founders, investors and the acquiring company alike. Driving for a billion-dollar business doesn’t always make sense.


Think of your company as offering a solution to a specific problem for the acquirer.

When selling your startup, your mind-set – how you view your role in the acquisition process – will have a significant impact on your success. First, stop thinking in terms of selling to another company. You’ll be selling to a group of people, and the acquisition should solve a problem for these people. Think of the process as providing a solution for the buyer.

Second, if you see selling as a failure, reconsider. In reality, every founder sells, and the only question is whether to sell the entire company or just a part of it. Raising funds or going public also involve selling shares. By adopting this mind-set, you can pursue the decision to sell with a more positive perspective.

Approach the acquisition process like a job hunt.

An acquisition isn’t just another round of fundraising. When you sell your company, you’ll be joining the acquirer for at least ...

About the Author

Daniel Debow is vice president of product at Shopify. He cofounded Helpful, acquired by Shopify; Rypple, acquired by Salesforce; and Workbrain, acquired by Infor. Debow has served as an angel investor for more than 90 companies. This article, based on an interview with Debow, was published in First Round Capital’s online magazine, The Review.

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