saas.unbound is a podcast for and about founders who are working on scaling inspiring products that people love brought to you by, a serial acquirer of B2B SaaS companies. We’re dedicating the full month of March to amazingly talented female founders. In this episode #1, Anna Nadeina talks with Sharon Gillenwater, founder of Boardroom Insiders, one of the leaders in executive intelligence, enabling enterprise sales and marketing teams to close bigger deals, faster. She sold the company to Euromoney LLC for a whopping $25M and is now openly sharing her exit experience with other founders.


The Journey of Building and Selling a Successful Business



Today we are talking with Sharon, the founder of Boardroom Insiders, a leading executive intelligence company. Sharon shares her experience of building and selling her business for a whopping $25 million. We will dive into her background, the inspiration behind her company, the challenges she faced, and her advice for fellow entrepreneurs. Join us on this exciting journey!


From Writer to Entrepreneur

Sharon’s journey into the world of business began later in life. After working as a writer and journalist, she found herself drawn to the startup scene in San Francisco during the late 90s internet boom. Despite not having much knowledge about technology, she realized that it was becoming a fundamental part of every company.

After founding her first startup and raising $3 million in venture capital, Sharon faced challenges due to the dot-com crash. However, this setback didn’t deter her entrepreneurial spirit. She went on to work in tech marketing and gained valuable experience working with major tech companies. It was during this time that she identified a recurring problem faced by marketers – the need to sell to C-level executives. This realization led her to create profiles of C-level executives, which eventually evolved into a subscription-based database product.


The Journey to Success

Building a successful business is never easy, and Sharon’s journey was no exception. She faced obstacles, such as the ups and downs of the market, personal challenges, and the impact of major events like 9/11. However, through perseverance and passion for her work, she continued to grow her company.

Sharon’s company gained momentum, and in 2010, she took on a business partner to further enhance its chances of success. Together, they navigated the challenges of bootstrapping and developed efficient strategies for running a business with limited resources. 


The Path to an Exit

While Sharon and her partner didn’t initially plan to sell their company, they eventually found themselves considering the possibility. They engaged an M&A banker and started an extensive process that involved reaching out to potential buyers, reviewing offers, and undergoing due diligence.

One of the most surprising aspects of the due diligence process was the amount of paperwork and organization required. Sharon’s partner’s meticulous approach to documentation proved invaluable during this time. They ensured that all necessary documents were readily available and organized, which made the process smoother.


The Excitement of the Sale

After months of negotiations, Sharon and her partner received an offer from Euromoney LLC for $25 million. Although the initial offer was lower than their expectations, Sharon didn’t settle. With the guidance of her advisor, she confidently asked for a higher price, which eventually led to an agreement. The final deal involved $25 million in cash, with various fees and taxes deducted.

Sharon’s transparency in sharing the financial details of the sale, including fees and taxes, has been enlightening for fellow entrepreneurs. It highlights the importance of understanding the financial implications of a sale and preparing for the tax obligations.


Advice for Founders

Reflecting on her journey, Sharon offers valuable advice to fellow entrepreneurs considering an exit. Here are some key takeaways:

Hire a fractional CFO: A fractional CFO can help you create accurate financial forecasts and provide guidance on spending decisions.

Organize your paperwork: Keeping your documents in order can make the due diligence process much smoother. Consider appointing someone responsible for paperwork and document management.

Build a network of entrepreneurs: Connect with other entrepreneurs who have gone through the exit process. Seek their advice and learn from their experiences.

Engage an M&A banker: Consider hiring an M&A banker to guide you through the process. 

They can help you find potential buyers, negotiate deals, and ensure you get the best outcome.

Create a strong leadership team: Transitioning responsibilities and authority to your team members sets them up for success. It also demonstrates to potential buyers that the business can operate smoothly without the founders.



Sharon’s journey from writer to successful entrepreneur is a testament to the power of perseverance, adaptability, and strategic decision-making. Her experiences provide valuable insights for fellow entrepreneurs who aspire to build and sell successful businesses. By embracing challenges, seeking guidance, and organizing effectively, founders can navigate the complex world of entrepreneurship and achieve remarkable success.


Head of Growth,