Respect the emotions of the seller

Tips for buying your own company – from Edward Verté, CEO and co-founder of Diamanti per Tutti

Miguel Meuleman

By Miguel Meuleman

Professor of Entrepreneurship

19 April 2022
Video still 10 + 1 tips - Edward Verté

Entrepreneurship through acquisition offers an alternative approach for individuals to realise an entrepreneurial ambition and become owner-manager of a company.

Through Vlerick’s Entrepreneurial Buyout Academy, we trained over 300 buyout candidates in the past 10 years. And about 15% ended up buying their own company.

One of them is Edward Verté, CEO and co-founder of Diamanti per Tutti, a brand from Antwerp that makes diamonds fun, fashionable and accessible. Edward actively invests in various lifestyle brands as well. In 2015, he did a management buy-in in the Belgian jewellery brand, Wouters & Hendrix. In 2018, he invested in A Suivre, a multi-brand fashion retail chain with its own brand called Collectors Club. And in 2020, he invested in KAAI bags, a functional designer handbag brand from Antwerp.

Based on these successful investments - but also previously failed acquisitions – he learned the hard way that it’s really essential to understand and respect the emotions of the seller, especially when dealing with founders as they are selling their baby to you.

Video still 10 + 1 tips - Edward Verté

Respect the emotions of the seller

Edward Verté is the CEO and co-founder of Diamanti per Tutti, and he actively invests in various lifestyle brands as well. Based on his experience from successes but also failures, he gives tips for buying your own company.

Don’t be the smartest person in the room

1/ Show respect for the accomplishments and personal journey of the seller, especially in case the seller is also (co-)founder.

2/ Make sure you convince the seller you will treat their baby the way you would treat your own - you have to be committed to this:

  • Convince the seller that their baby is in good hands and will continue to thrive
  • While you may point out improvement levers, you should do so with respect and without giving the impression they have mismanaged or were wrong in the past
  • Explain carefully and truthfully how you will protect their legacy
  • Be very patient - the process may take a long time. A no can become a yes when approached smartly with respect for the (including often emotional) expectations of the vendor

3/ When meeting the seller the first time, listen 80% of the time to understand the motivation to sell, learn about the fundamentals of the business, know the concerns of the seller and identify blind spots.

4/ If you manage the emotional side well, you might end up having a competitive advantage vis-à-vis professional acquirers.

Eager for more inspiration and insights on how to become successful when pursuing entrepreneurship through acquisition? Then download our white paper with 10 tips for buying your own company.

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Miguel Meuleman

Miguel Meuleman

Full Professor