This Michigan-based Company Connecting Business Founders With M&A Experts Could Be Pushing Big By Building Relationships, One Deal At A Time

Networking and deep industry-specific knowledge and experience are key to finding a buyer for your business.

Michigan-based Exitwise doesn’t refer to itself as an investment bank. It says it is more like a network of investment banking and M&A (merger and acquisition) experts that exists to help business owners navigate possible exits.

Exitwise’s M&A experts have worked for some of the biggest names in investment banking, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS and JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM.

By building a network of specialists, Exitwise looks to tap into ever-increasing numbers of contacts. The company doesn’t directly target business owners since their inbound deal flow is already substantial and growing; instead, it targets M&A experts with direct knowledge of industry sectors who know the operators within them. 

“We are a network of the best investment bankers who are very niche,” Exitwise CEO Todd Sullivan told Benzinga. “Our experts are only working in a single industry, and they know the buyers intimately.”

Sullivan should know. He’s founded and sold a number of companies, some with a software focus.

Sometimes he hired outside help to help sell the businesses, but it wasn’t until he was asked to sell another company as an M&A specialist that he knew he was out of his depth. That company was outside his area of expertise, and he wasn’t the right fit to sell the business.

Hence the idea of building Exitwise and its network of highly specific M&A experts. For example, Sullivan recruits M&A experts into the Exitwise network who aren’t just specialists in heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), they are experts in HVAC distribution.

All About The Owners?

But while specialist knowledge is key, it is the relationships between the M&A experts and business buyers that are perhaps the most important, according to Exitwise.

Close relationships with buyers built over periods of time can help ensure top dollar for the business owners as they seek to exit their well-run operations.

While some in the Exitwise network have specialist sector knowledge in terms of being investment bankers, and therefore well-established relationships with the buyers in that industry, many of them have also run their own businesses and appreciate the challenges involved in doing so.

“It is a true honor to be part of any entrepreneur’s journey,” Sullivan said. “We have been through that battle and know all the challenges so that we can relate as founder to founder.”

Exitwise operates mainly in the United States but also has M&A experts in Toronto and London. The company generally works with businesses with annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $2 million to $25 million.

Picture credit: Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

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