Case Study #69: Know When It’s Time to Go

Case Study #68: Know When It's Time to GoSaaS businesses have developed a reputation in recent years for being all about the numbers as well as a relentless drive forward. Natalie Nagele and her team at Postmark had been in SaaS for many years and she went the other way, establishing a four day work week and confessed that before getting the business metrics in place for acquisition, she couldn’t tell you customer LTV. That didn’t stop her from getting acquired for a life-changing amount of money by Active Campaign earlier this year.

Built for Speed 

Ever had to reset a password? Or got a notice to retrieve an abandoned online shopping cart? Or clicked on a button that allowed you to send a link from a website or app to someone’s email? That’s transactional email, and most people don’t realize there are services operating that help deliver those emails.

Put another way, a transactional email contains information about an action the recipient has already taken. Broadcast email usually wants to nudge the recipient into taking an action. Particularly in the case of a sale, you want those transactional emails to go out as soon as possible, and Postmark built its reputation on speed.

When Is It a Bad Day vs When Is It Time to Sell?

All business owners have experienced a bad day or a bad week or a bad month. You could lose a key employee, have had to fire a bad one, or just not hit your numbers. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and handle what needs to be done. Sometimes you even feel refreshed and rejuvenated when you work through those challenges.

Natalie says that the dividing line between those regular ups and downs and a signal it’s time to sell is the thought, “I can’t do this anymore.” She was nearing that point before the pandemic hit, which temporarily put everything on hold as she focused on making sure the company — and all its team members — were fine. 

She also found herself often dreaming of hotels (a future business venture) which she knew meant that her focus and energy weren’t being put in the company, which wasn’t fair to her team.

But once things stabilized she and her husband (also her business partner in the company) realized that it really was time to let go, and that if she stayed and the team could see that they didn’t really want to be there anymore, that the company would be harmed. The 22 years they had spent building the company came to a happy conclusion when, unsolicited, Active Campaign reached out to see if there could be a deal, and after outlining her “must-haves” to the Active Campaign team, all else in the transaction went smoothly.

Natalie’s Must-Haves

Natalie had quite a few conditions as part of the sale, but the three that really mattered to her were:

  1. No working for the new company. She felt like she had the income she wanted and as we noted above already, after she took time off she wanted to look at a hotel venture. She was happy to have a brief transition period but after that she wanted to head off to retirement.
  2. Four day work week had to be preserved. This was an important step Postmark had taken years earlier and she felt that her employees had built their lives around it and didn’t want a sudden disruption.
  3. Bonus plan. The employees were used to a regular bonus that was tied to performance and she wanted to make sure, at least in the first 12 months, that this was honored. She ended up doubling down on this by sharing 10% of the proceeds of the sale with the team, some of whom also received life-changing amounts of money.

If you’re feeling like it’s finally time to let someone else take your business to the next level, we’d love to help you! Give us a call.