Our Story

Our Sister Company – Founders Advisors

The Investment Grade Advisory story begins as an extension to the story of Founders Advisors, founded in 2003. Founders Advisors (Founders) is a mergers and acquisitions advisory firm focused on serving private owners and families like you, who have often spent their lives or even generations building a business that not only provides for their family but also their employees and community. The Founders team serves as trusted guides to families seeking to transfer their business interests in the form of a sale or recapitalization (partial sale). Founders’ secret sauce is experienced professionals, a detailed proven process, and a sincere relational approach that serves owners and their families with impact.

The Need for Preparation

Founders’ core expertise is the sell-side process for private companies and in turn, salability and valuation. Founders and its professionals have served hundreds of business owners with delightful results; however, they have also had to deliver bad news to thousands of others. The bad news being either their business is not salable or not worth what they expected. Delivering disappointing news to countless companies much like the story below, inspired Founders to develop a process to help business owners identify and amplify the areas of their business that drive enterprise value.

A History of Serving Clients

Inspiration formed into action with Founders’ principal, Zane Tarence, codifying the difference between a company getting an outsized valuation and not being able to sell at all in a speech titled “17 Reasons You’ll Never Be Able to Sale Your Equity”. Then Zane expounded upon these principles in his book, 17 Reasons Your Company Is Not Investment Grade (And What To Do About It).

Investment Grade Advisory’s Founding

The continued desire to help owners get it right has now led to the formation of Investment Grade Advisory (IGA). IGA’s mission is to help business owners unlock and harvest the value of their business. To support this mission IGA developed an actionable value enhancement assessment. IGA’s passion is helping owners grow and improve the value of their company with actionable business owner education. IGA would love to make you and your company part of this story and serve you to this end.

A Story You Want No Part Of

One day a business owner came to visit Zane to discuss selling his family-owned business. After decades of 80-hour weeks, sleepless nights, and missed soccer games, he was ready to monetize his single largest investment and enjoy retirement. Although his children grew up in the business, they were not ready or willing to shoulder the responsibility of owning it.

It was time!

With $10mm in EBITDA, an established history, loyal employees, and great reputation, the owner was confident there would be strong buyer interest. But as Zane evaluated the company’s marketability and valuation potential, he quickly realized the opposite was true. What followed were words the owner never expected to hear, “I’m sorry, your business isn’t salable, it is not Investment Grade”. With significant customer concentration, zero recurring revenue, and a declining market, sophisticated buyers would either pass on the business or make an offer that would not meet the owner’s expectations. Zane told the owner that he would likely be better off operating the business for cash and investing the profits in real estate.

The team at Founders Advisors
Zane being interviewed for entrepreneurs selling their businesses
Zane leading Vistage meetings remotely during Coronavirus
Zane’s book for business owners
Sample pages from the Investment Grade Assessment