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2 heads are better than 1

Pam Kauten had access to sage advice on selling her company.

By KRIS HUNDLEY
Published February 9, 2007


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Last week Pam Kauten sold Florida CareerLINK, an employment Web site she built and nurtured to profitability and more than $1-million in sales over 10 years.

The buyer, Eric Straus, is president of RegionalHelpWanted.com of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., which operates more than 300 local job sites in the United States and Canada.

It intends to keep the Florida CareerLINK name and four of its seven employees in Clearwater. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

Kauten, 48, said she relied heavily on her tech exec buddies in the CEO Network, part of the regional Tampa Bay Technology Forum, as she worked through the negotiations.

"They were incredible," she said of the nut-and-bolts advice as well as the emotional support she received from her peers. "I thank every single one."

What made you realize it was time to sell?

As an entrepreneur, your exit strategy is always to sell, but I was not out there looking. A suitor had come to me. When I look in the rear view mirror at all my past endeavors, however, I see that I leave every five years. This had been 10 years and I have to admit I had an itch. I'm one of those serial entrepreneurs.

 

What were non-negotiable issues for you ?

The money had to be right. That was important. And that I didn't need to be there. I was not looking to be employed by a new owner; I'd been working for myself too long.

 

How did you decide which was the best offer?

The initial suitor was a national company and my philosophy has always been to have a local presence. Their plan was to drop the presence here . They were really just offering to pay me to get out of the way. Just a few days after my letter of intent with that company expired, I got a call from another suitor and this one was a perfect match. He was all about the local brand, keeping it so job seekers and employers will not see a difference. Some of our clients have been with us since we turned on the site in 1997 and I didn't want anybody to get irritated.

 

How did TBTF's CEO Network help?

The first time I went to the CEO roundtable with a buyout offer, I took so many notes it was just overwhelming. These guys - there are only three girls on TBTF's CEO board - have gone through selling companies and they really opened up. And when we came down to the final negotiations, Marc Blumenthal, chairman of the CEO Network happened to call as I was going through the process. He was watching over me as a friend, because it can be emotional. This was my baby. It was great to have a big brother.

 

Is it hard letting go of that baby?

It hasn't hit me yet. All this (the sales process) has been going on since Aug. 16 and it's like I have not had a life in six months, so I'm still going a mile a minute. But today I heard a radio spot for Florida CareerLINK and it was not one I created. And I thought: "Okay, this is theirs now. I have to step away from it."

 

What's next?

I'm going to take a couple of months off, then I'll be starting another dot-com, directing my two sons (ages 23 and 26) who came up with an idea that I think is incredible. It will probably be up and ready by July 1.

 

Any concerns about working with your kids?

I worked with my spouse before he died in June 2002. And I think it was my husband up there, making these maneuvers and having that buyer call me. And I'm very charged up about my sons' ideas.

Kris Hundley can be reached at hundley@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2996.

Fast Facts:

 

Florida CareerLINK

What it is: A 10-year old local online job site.

Buyer: Eric Straus, president, RegionalHelp Wanted.com, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

What it does: Operates local job boards in more than 300 markets in the United States and Canada.

[Last modified February 8, 2007, 23:47:30]


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