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30 Most Reputable Companies of the Year 2023

Exits are always a very critical success point in business and in life. You can’t understate the importance of that.


Founders Trust is a mission-driven Company which is fixing a broken industry. Founders Trust is a direct buyer of companies.  Currently, when highly successful founders and business owners want to achieve a very important success, their exit, they find a broken industry. In the U.S., 95% of companies listed for sale, never sell. Surveys report that the younger generations overwhelmingly do not have an interest in buying companies. The few that do, are not able to. The pool of existing buyers consists mostly of their competitors, and private equity, both of which are known to do layoffs and cost-cutting for either conglomeration, or a sale and quickly meeting returns targets. In this landscape, Founders Trust is a vastly different buyer and owner, focusing on the continuation of the Company as an independent Company. Its focus is culture, stability and continuation of operations, support for growth, and keeping and incentivizing the management and employees.

Matt Williamson, CEO of Founders Trust, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review about how his company is helping founders who have built successful businesses from nothing achieve their exit.

“We’re here to help businesses have the exit and final success they deserve.”

Interview Highlights

Q. When it comes to longevity, Founders Trust has it. I find it remarkable that an organization can continue to provide services for over a decade. How did your firm maintain its adaptability over the years?

“I think it has to do with the fact that we are focused on stability, rather than returns or a quick turnaround, which is the standard everywhere else in the industry,” Williamson says. “It is about focus and strategy.”  He explains that their approach is that of stability and long-term continuation of growth, rather than about trying to achieve quick returns in a given 5 or 10 year period, which leads to a lot of the volatility and quick movements that you see in the private equity and conglomeration type companies. “A focus on these really short term 3 or 5 or even 8 year returns causes a lot of instability, layoffs, quick changes to strategy, and the like – it is the opposite of what we do,” Williamson explains.

Q. What are your main goals?

“We are really a mission driven company,” ways Williamson. “It leads to a very sound and stable strategy that benefits people 360 degrees.”

First, there is the successful founder or owner who is exiting. “He achieves his exit. Exits are always a very critical success point in business and in life. You can’t understate the importance of that,” explains Williamson.

Some founders want to continue to stay on and work in the Company, but after they have taken that successful exit. “They are able to get off of their plate, a lot of things they don’t want to do anymore, says Williamson. “They are able to focus on a role within that Company that they enjoy but usually didn’t have time to do – at the same time as receiving the support of Founders Trust – support for growth, etc. We incentivize them, and want them to flourish.”

Other founders want to retire. “We work with them for a defined transition period to ensure the stability of the Company after the transition period.”

Other founders want to retire and then capture meaning, advisory or motivation. Williamson explains, “There is also this really interesting and untapped desire – it is the desire of a founder to be able to achieve their exit, and then to be able to act in some sort of role as advisor, or “rally-er of the troops” or as a bearer of wisdom. Not to work every day. But as it fits in with their family or health or overall goals. In a way that provides meaning.” This is a completely different concept, and one that we don’t see in the US. “For Founders Trust, we think it is valuable – this desire to coach or teach or motivate. You see it everywhere. It is a human trait. These real synergies come from successful founders who have achieved their exit and who want to act in some way as an advisor.”So for these founders, all with different goals, Founders Trust takes a different approach.


Second, there is the management team and the employees of the Company. In the typical acquisition market, they are regarded as numbers, or as opportunities for cost cutting. Williamson explains, “But if you step back, what you see is that this only brings short term returns, and then the business is destabilized. We have the opposite belief. This management team and employees provide core operational wisdom, and contribute to the ongoing stability of the Company. We incentivize the management team and the employees.”

"We are for sellers that care about their legacy, employees, clients, brand name, history, vendors, and local community."

This is good for the Company going forward. It is also good for the seller, the founder. “When one of these ‘short term profits’ acquirors comes along, does layoffs, etc., it has a real negative impact on the reputation of that founder. Just when he should be receiving praise for having achieved an exit, everyone sees these layoffs and cost-cutting. That is not a good exit.”

Third, there is this certainty of execution. “Certainty of Execution of a transaction is something people don’t realize is important until they are in a situation,” explains Williamson. In the modern world, there is this theme of uncertain transactions.

From very large public companies, with the dramas in the press about whether or not the transaction will go through. To the middle market companies, where buyers or changing markets also cause uncertainty of execution. Founders Trust operates in a different manner.

“Once a Letter of Intent has been signed, the owner can be certain for the execution of the transaction,” explains Williamson. “Many groups submit and sign LOIs with a haphazard pre-due-diligence process, which later leads to problems, and to the deal not being done. Very often, we see sellers exhausted after long periods of being in a pre-transaction period with potential buyers who can’t seem to conclude the transaction at the terms they have promised.”

The strategy of Founders Trust is very different from the strategy of other buyers in the US. The fate that awaits most businesses is a fate that eventually destroys their lives’ work and their families, and it seriously affects the fiber of the nation. “So much is lost,” explains Williamson. “I don’t want these business owners to have a fate like my grandfather had. We need to change that. Owners should have a successful exit so they can set up a ‘family office’ with their family if they want and focus on different goals, live the life they choose, and see their company, their life’s work, flourish in good hands. It is our mission in life.”

Q. Can you talk to us more about your strategy? What are its key features? What types of businesses does Founders Trust buy?

Founders Trust has very specific criteria for the businesses that it is interested in. Williamson explains, “We buy small to medium-sized, privately owned companies with successful management in place and a strong operating track record. That means profitable companies that have some successful history behind them. When we reach the point where we have decided to submit an offer, the offer will be transparent and will be explained in detail. There won’t be any unclarified points that are going to be negotiated, defined, or thought about later. The owner can ask anything, or their advisors can ask anything they need to, and we will explain it.” He explains,“we are not return-driven; we are quality-driven. If it is a good-quality company, then over time, long-term value will be created.”

About | Matt Williamson, CEO

The Founders Trust team has co-led over $4.5 Billion in acquisitions, has a combined 80 years of CEO, Chairman, and C-Level experience, are recognized and respected leaders in their fields, and are industry veterans and executives across a variety of relevant sectors. Over the past decades, Mr. Williamson has personally led over $260 million in acquisitions. He works with the Founders Trust team to provide stability for each company, with a view on the long term.  Mr. Williamson is an experienced veteran investment banker, private equity, and capital markets expert, and was an integral member of teams in charge of hundreds of millions in investments for insurance companies, institutional investors, and private family offices.

Mr. Williamson holds a Masters Degree in Mathematics of Finance from Columbia University, New York, where he was awarded two scholarships, and a B.A. in Urban & Regional Development. He is married to the love of his life and together they have three children, who they home school. They live in a rustic-styled home overlooking a lake and nature, flooded in natural light, and which makes every day feel like it is a vacation on which they enjoy their work as a gift.  It underscores the importance of the “Joy of Work” as one of the greatest gifts of life.

Mr. Williamson is a frequent speaker and moderator at private equity and family office conferences. He is the author of a forthcoming book on successful exits in family business, and the extremely crucial transition, from “Family Business,” through a successful exit, to a “Family Office.”

"The fate that awaits most businesses is a fate that eventually destroys their lives' work and their families, and it seriously affects the fiber of the nation. And we believe owners need a better solution."