People who destroy entrepreneurial value are the scum of the earth

On Friday I was touring the Google HQ when I got a voicemail from a Mergers & Acquisitions firm in Dallas, calling to inquire about MightyBrand. My BS detector starting twitching at this point, but I’ve been wrong about these things before, so I called back and spoke to the guy, Gene. He explained that their firm did a lot of M&A brokerage, and they had buyers interested in the space that MightyBrand occupies, and had we ever thought about selling? Skeptical, I didn’t divulge any info of note, but we chatted for a bit and then he explained that they were going to be in town this week and would I like to meet? I might have gone ahead and met with them, but then he mentioned that they were going to be doing a free workshop on selling your business, the process, etc. This sounded suspiciously like a sales seminar, which starting maxing out my BS detector. I told him to email me the info and got off the phone.

Today I had a chance to look up the company in question and see if my instincts were correct. Sure enough, I found critical blog posts and even magazine articles in Entrepreneur and Inc magazines. Turns out this seminar is a high-pressure sales pitch for their consulting services, which cost $30k up-front. Guess how many of those businesses are ever sold by this firm? I doubt it’s zero, as their website lists a bunch of press releases about companies sold, but I suspect it’s very low. More to the point, what legitimate broker of any kind operates in such a fashion? This is like writing a check to a real estate agent for $30k and then hoping they sell your house for $500k. Yes, you’d be stupid to do so, and so are the entrepreneurs who have been taken in by this, but that doesn’t make it any less egregious.

I haven’t mentioned the name of this company because they seem like the kind of scum who would sue a blogger like me for posting this info. After this little episode, I was thinking about how angry it makes me that there’s an entire portion of the economy out there dedicated to destroying the value that entrepreneurs create. They’re not even just siphoning off the value, because it costs an entrepreneur more than $30k to get scammed by this company, in lost time, legal fees, etc. That $30k could have been someone’s salary, and we need jobs more than anything in this economic climate. What’s worse is that the person who started this company has an MBA in entrepreneurship from a good school. Now I know many who read this probably think that makes it more likely that they’d prey on true entrepreneurs, but I think that’s unfair to MBAs. Regardless, how do people sleep at night knowing that they’re spending their talent and energy making the world a darker place? There’s a huge number of entrepreneurs and founders out there who are actively making the world awesome, and you want to spend your time and energy undermining that for some minute gain?

Others who fall into the category of destroying the value that entrepreneurs create include patent trolls, people who blast out irrelevant cease-and-desist notices, and investors who screw over their portfolio companies for short-term gain. Even a lot of the make-money-online and real estate gurus out there fall into this category, because they exploit an entire class of people who are struggling financially but have at least the desire to better themselves and become entrepreneurs.

So if you get a call from a M&A company in Dallas who invites you to an “informational workshop”, I suggest doing a little research. And if you find the same thing that I did, I suggest you hang up the phone and get back to work doing what real entrepreneurs do best: creating true value.