What was your MSP Business and when did you start it?
I co-founded amicitia in 2002, with a former customer who had become a friend and neighbour; he was tech and I was sales. Previously I had worked in IT solution sales roles and like many MSP-founders felt we could do better running a business!
Can you explain a little about the business?
amicitia provided IT support (proactive and reactive management) to the SME marketplace, and at exit had broadly 200 customers, 18 people and annual services revenue of £1m.
Were you always planning on an exit and what was the driver to exit?
The ambition was there to buy and sell, however we didn’t have a plan or experience for either, which is probably why we had only limited small-deal experience when we came to sell ourselves!
How did you find your acquirer and what did the process look like?
The chairman of our acquirer, NewCMI was also our mentor, and expertly navigated the ‘conflict of interest’ fine line throughout the process!
Can you tell us a little about your exit?
NewCMI and amicitia were similar in size with some obvious synergies and efficiencies such as a pooled service desk, finance & admin consolidation with the commercial benefit of expansion into the GB market from NewCMI’s Northern Ireland base.
Really it was a merger, just with my co-shareholder and I dropping ownership; 12-years in we both had ‘shareholder fatigue’ and were young enough to explore our non-IT interests, following a 3-month handover.
12-months on, and attempting to cure my ‘sellers remorse’ I acquired a minority shareholding in NewCMI and took on a part-time role, which actually led me to what I do today, by giving me the opportunity to discover the MSP community, experience of a larger MSP, more M&A and a second bite of the exit pie!
What was the main thing you learned about M&A going through the process?
We actually knew more than we thought we knew and had a better business than we thought we had; at the same time, we needed the guidance of others to unlock that view and support us through the experience.
Knowing what you know today, what would you have done differently?
Nothing! That said, had I discovered the MSP community before exiting it is entirely possible I would have remained more involved and enthusiastic about being in the MSP business, although I would not have had the privilege of working with other MSP owners, which has almost certainly resulted in a richer experience of the marketplace for me personally.
Is there any advice or things to watch out for that you would like to share with fellow MSP Business owners?
Get out there and get to know the MSP community, and when ready get some help with implementing all the great inspiration out there.
What are you up to now and how can people find out more?
Working with many MSP-owners developing and implementing their business plans, surfaced the need in the marketplace for financial management knowledge and leadership; now delivered by https://mspfinanceteam.com/ alongside my co-founder Adam Morris.