Q: I was CTO and co-founder of a small technology startup that was recently acquired by a much larger firm. We have a two year earn out that I would like to collect. I see myself as a serial entrepreneur (this is my first successful acquisition but I have founded or co-founded several less successful startups in the last decade) but realize I should probably learn how to thrive in a large firm environment as well. In the next two years I would love to have learned how to operate in a public company and to have a few solid wins where I’ve shifted the acquiring company’s business in a positive direction. Any advice about keeping sane and happy, and making sure I could actually make an impact at the new company.
First of all these are a great set of goals: stay sane and happy and learn how to make an impact in a large firm. Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Attend manager / new manager training: this will allow you to meet other managers in the firm and make connections. It’s also a way to learn the “unwritten rules” of your new employer.
- Ask to be assigned another manager as a mentor for an on-boarding period (60-90 days), with mutual consent you can continue beyond that point.
- Attend the “engineering bagel meeting” or “nerd lunch” or brown bag lunches: if there isn’t a regular (e.g. once a week twice a month meeting where engineers present work that they are doing, offering to help organize an event where folks bring in lunch and can meet in a room or over Webex where one engineer presents some recent results and others can ask questions. Presentation might be 6-12 slides 15-20 minutes followed by Q&A and general networking. Rotate speakers from different groups and teams including your own.
- Attend Miller Heiman sales training or Solution Selling sales training: protecting your budget and “tin cupping” from other departments for reqs and project funding benefits from sales skills.
- If your company was not the first acquisition seek out other CEO’s and founders whose company was acquired by your firm–whether or not they are still with the company–and ask for a coffee break or quick call to get some advice on what to watch out for and what they have found helped them.
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