Venture capitalists and private equity firms approach this 50-person, privately held tech firm almost weekly, says CEO and co-founder Shaun Ryan. "They're out there, looking for deals," he says. But so far, Ryan hasn't been interested in making one for the firm, a provider of hosted site search and navigation solutions for websites. "We don't really need the capital," he says.
When Ryan and his colleagues launched the firm that they eventually named SLI Systems in 2001, they realized they needed recurring revenues to survive and built the company around the software as service (SAS) model. That stream of incoming cash has allowed them to grow the business slowly but steadily by bootstrapping it, avoiding some of the pitfalls of taking an equity investment. "I've seen other founders get pushed to the side and lose control," says Ryan. "Often venture capitalists will have a certain time frame for which they're looking to get an exit. They can often drive an entrepreneur to make decisions or push things to happen that aren't necessarily optimal times for the company and what's happening in the market."
As for Ryan, he'd rather stay in the driver's seat and make those decisions when they feel right: "You can choose the optimal time yourself," he says.
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