January 20, 2015

How to package your company for a boutique acquisition

As we discussed yesterday, the trend toward "boutique acquisitions" by corporations outside the tech sphere is heating up. But how can companies appeal to corporations that haven't traditionally eyed tech mergers? Here are a few tips to position your company for a boutique acquisition:

1. Appeal to a higher calling. Many established brands that are driven primarily by profit also possess corporate values that your startup can support. For example, on the face of it, Under Armour is a sportswear company whose bottom line is selling spandex workout gear. However, the company values health and wellness by proxy. In 2013, it acquired MyMapFitness, an open-source fitness platform that helps users stay in shape. 

"Innovation has always been at the core of our company, and now we are better positioned to design open, digital products for the athlete of tomorrow and become more proactive in providing solutions that will help people across the world lead healthier lifestyles," said Kevin Plank, Founder and CEO of Under Armour, at the time of the deal. 

2. Be participatory. For many companies, particularly those that manufacture goods, customer engagement begins and ends with checkout at supermarkets or department stores. Mobile apps, open platforms and other tech services provide a window for those brands to engage customers beyond the point of sale. Your company may provide an unforeseen interactive marketing opportunity. 

3. Offer integration down the road. It might not be immediately clear how your company can fit the agenda of a non-tech corporation. However, your software or know-how could play an integral role in positioning several steps in the future. Acquisition strategy revolves not just around what value a company offers now, but how its capabilities could be integrated more centrally in the future.