Sandy Rowe and Gary Conley founded Interware in 1995 after realizing early on the power of the Internet and how it could provide a highly productive platform to deliver innovative solutions that achieve their mantra of “Making government more efficient for all of us.” As Sandy and Gary were approaching retirement and began discussing the next chapter of the business, it was important for them to think about not only their employees, but also their daughter, Nikki, who played an important role in the successful operation of Interware and was still early in her career. Furthermore, maintaining the culture they built at Interware was one of their highest priorities. They wanted to ensure the team was taken care of and that their customers would continue to receive the same standard of service. With retirement in their sights and a liquidity event on the horizon, Sandy and Gary hired Ascend after recognizing our team’s knowledge of the space, tailored approach, and commitment to integrity through work with another client that they had been familiar with. We agreed to take on the challenge of balancing their goals with what would be beneficial for Nikki, the culture, and the Interware team by shepherding them through the entire lifecycle of the transaction:
- Organizing and preparing the company for a sale including a bottoms-up financial model, detailed cross-sell and upsell analysis for each buyer, KPI deep dive analysis, and positioning and marketing materials
- Conducting outreach efforts by developing a bespoke universe of prospective buyers and facilitating communications with each group
- Creating a competitive environment to maximize price and terms
- Soliciting and negotiating letters of intent
- Managing the due diligence process
- Liaising with the buyer’s advisors to close the transaction
- Technology & Software
- Sell-Side Transactions
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Interware is at the intersection of GovTech and FinTech, providing highly sought-after integrated solutions to help local governments monetize payment processing, expand addressable markets, and provide nice growth and uplift. With this in mind, Ascend cast a wide net focusing on three types of buyers — (i) PE firms with a software focus; (ii) GovTech and FinTech strategics with a payments interest; and (iii) International players interested in getting a foothold in the U.S. Ascend produced multiple sets of tailored marketing materials, recognizing the crucial role of painting a vivid picture for each prospective buyer group in order to effectively showcase the company’s unique value proposition.
The strategy generated an enormous amount of interest with thirty parties submitting indications of interest and three submitting preemptive offers. We worked to create an environment that was extremely competitive. While initially one of the offers looked promising, and we went far down the road with deal negotiations, ultimately it was not the right fit considering Sandy and Gary’s situation-specific objectives. The challenge then was going back to the other two parties to explain the situation, confirm interest, and determine the best partner for Interware.
DJ and the Ascend team spent endless hours with our family prior to launching a transaction to understand our collective and individual objectives. They were knowledgeable and responsive, helping us not just maximize value but find a partner we could feel truly good about taking on our family’s legacy and providing our employees, customers, and products new opportunities to flourish and thrive.
- President & CEO at Interware