Member Keith Matasci Speaks: Focus on Bench Strength

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by a member, whose company was developing a very promising product. However, only very few employees understood it enough to bring it from development to production. A strategic partner, moreover, not only prepared to invest in the company, but perhaps eventually acquire it — thanks to the added value this new product promised.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were riding in your saddle, I’d rigorously train several of your people so their knowledge mirrors that of your veteran all-star employee. Besides helping to mitigate risk of intellectual property loss, this strategy will also make your company more attractive to the potential acquirer you are reeling in.

You’re in an enviable spot: not only do you have a barnburner of a product coming online, but you also have strong preliminary interest from a partner to buy it. This is all thanks to your very small all-star team, who have the slugging power to take this promise and make it into a manufacturing reality. But what if your team captain gets traded away? Or decides it’s a great time to retire? If I were in your shoes, I’d immediately handpick several proteges to learn what your team captain already knows. The best coaches beef up their benches.

This is the first time we’ve met, so stop me if you’ve already reviewed and discarded this strategy. However, permit me to point out another benefit of adding depth to your bench beyond intellectual property loss risk mitigation. From your potential acquirer’s perspective, every member of your team with this critical knowledge represents an insurance policy that the transition from development to production is possible. Not only would this boost their confidence, but may also augment the valuation they offer you.