Entrepreneurs & Start-ups

Negotiation Consulting for Entrepreneurs and Start-Ups

We have advised entrepreneurs and start-ups around the globe on their most challenging negotiations, conflicts and decisions, helping them thrive amid the unique circumstances of early-stage and/or high-growth situations.

From Peru and Taiwan to the United States and the United Kingdom, we provide specialized negotiation services for entrepreneurs including: positioning a company for sale and negotiating the terms and conditions for that sale to maximize value; managing important and difficult internal disputes or external negotiations; delivering tailored negotiation classes for entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to build their capacity to negotiate effectively; and spearheading strategies to fend off legal battles or bring closure faster and on better terms, while coordinating legal counsel to minimize costs, allowing our clients to stay focused on what they do best: building value and growing.

The Managing Director of Negotiation Advice International (NAI), Peter D. Johnston, spearheads all of our client engagements. He is an internationally recognized negotiation expert, sought-after negotiation consultant, speaker, mediator, and bestselling author. His award-winning book, Negotiating with Giants, relays lessons from our firm’s advisory work and some of history’s most difficult negotiations with a view to helping smaller players succeed, especially entrepreneurs and start-ups. Peter’s negotiation results have been formally recognized by the United States Government for their positive economic and social impact, both domestically and abroad.

We consistently achieve outstanding results in negotiations for entrepreneurs who are busy running operations and need timely expertise to help them negotiate when the stakes are highest — with important partners, board members, customers, suppliers, financiers, acquirers, and even rivals.

Below are detailed case examples of negotiation engagements executed by our principals with start-ups and entrepreneurs.

As negotiation experts trusted by corporate and government leaders, athletes, and public figures, our reputation for discretion and confidentiality is critical to our success. Given the sensitive nature of our work, most of our clients’ names can never be made public. However, we do identify some clients when and as appropriate, only connecting them to detailed project descriptions on an exceptional basis.

“It was a pleasure working with you. I could not have gotten through this ordeal without you.”
—Robert Stock
Founder of Robert Graham
“In my decades of business experience, you are without a doubt the most able and competent firm I have ever worked with. Without your advice on all fronts, I would not have been able to sell my business, and for such a significant amount.”
—Negotiation Advisory Client, United States
“NAI quadrupled our expected valuation in the first financing round, increasing our company's value by tens of millions of dollars.”
—Carter Powis
Technology Entrepreneur & Former McKinsey Consultant

From Negotiating Mergers & Acquisitions and Legal Settlements to Negotiating Financings and Customer Relationships: Case Examples

Case #1: Providing Ongoing Negotiation Advice to a Solar Tech CEO

We have quietly advised the CEO of a highly successful solar technology company on all significant deals over the past decade with challenging larger buyers and suppliers around the world, including national governments, big corporations, and the United Nations. This engagement includes: an ongoing, highly advanced negotiation class to build the CEO’s capacity to handle tough counterparts; advisory work to standardize the pricing of complex product and service offerings; drafting partnership and sales contracts; and developing legal strategies to deal with non-compliant partners.

Case #2: Building Value in a Tech Start-Up Prior to Selling Shares

NAI was called by a young entrepreneur who had a $3 million offer to buy his start-up, and he was looking for guidance. After we learned more about his tech business and ran some quick valuation metrics, we suggested he consider not selling just yet. The first thing we focused on was sorting out differences and undocumented deals among the company’s founders, which then opened up the possibility of bringing in an angel investor, whom we attracted. With this new money, we hired some experienced managers who helped accelerate the company’s growth. As a final step in supporting our client, we negotiated a $5 million equity injection from a leading venture capital player. The company was now valued at $20 million, or $17 million more than just 10 months earlier, prior to our involvement. This engagement included: structuring and negotiating both debt and equity offerings; negotiating employment contracts; advising on overall strategy; sitting on the company’s board; and building internal capacity to negotiate.

Case #3: Launching a New Venture Capital Fund

We helped raise capital for this start-up Canadian venture fund. We also: resolved disputes with former partners that threatened the firm’s ability to move forward; partnered with new players to increase shareholder value; and attracted and vetted entrepreneurs for venture investments. This venture capital fund was later successfully sold to a much larger industry player.

Case #4: Settling a Suit Launched by a Giant

A well-known, fast-growing company in the southern US was sued by a Goliath software corporation and found itself mired in courtrooms and legal fees. Then we were called. After two days with our new client and meeting their legal team, we developed a new influence strategy. We then trained the company’s top executives to execute that strategy through a brief, tailored negotiation class directly related to their legal dispute. We continued to quietly guide our client throughout the settlement process. The result: a deal that met our client’s interests extremely well given the challenging circumstances, while allowing the CEO and his team to focus on what they do best: growing their amazing business.

Case #5: Advising the Chair and Founder of a Well-Known Brand

The dynamic founder of a fast-growing international brand had been frustrated in his ongoing efforts to liquidate a portion of his minority stake and to earn more money from the early-stage strategic investors who now dominated his board. We went to the board on his behalf, promoting his interests, and subsequently helped negotiate the sale of the company to an investment group. The result: our client was able to bank a considerable sum of money, while still maintaining a significant stake under the new owners. We negotiated his new role and higher compensation, hiring lawyers to support us in that process.

Case #6: Selling Fast Casual Restaurants to a Public Company

The owner of a small, fast-growing group of restaurants approached us to help her negotiate directly with the CEO of a large, international restaurant chain who’d expressed an interest in buying her unique restaurants. Over the course of a year, we advised on every aspect of the final sale, which included: guiding the owner in prioritizing her interests in selling or not selling; negotiating with shareholders unhappy with the business being sold to ensure they would approve the transaction once reached; suggesting prioritized improvements to operations to increase value; exploring a range of alternatives and buyers to maximize value in the transaction; negotiating directly on behalf of the owner while she focused on running her business and building its value; overseeing due diligence of the restaurants and final documentation of the deal negotiated; coordinating the legal teams involved to minimize costs and optimize outcomes.

Case #7: Rescuing a Customer Deal and Helping Save a Small Company

We received a call from a small company whose biggest customer had just announced that it was walking away to a competitor, taking 90% of this company’s sales with it. We advised our new client on strategic and tactical steps to be pursued immediately, both at and away from the table. Once we understood its giant customers’ internal decision-making structure, our contract negotiation consultants led the client through discussions with key players there, re-establishing important relationships, while weakening those trying to push our client out. Within two months, instead of walking away, the CEO of the giant customer agreed to expand its relationship significantly with our client. We continued to work with this client on expanding its client base through new marketing initiatives so it would no longer be at the mercy of one or two big customers in its negotiations. We also thoroughly reviewed the details of its customer retention strategies and all of its contracts to make it harder for clients of any size to walk away again.

Case #8: A Company Owner Involved in a Divorce

We started by delivering a highly informal one-on-one negotiation course to this successful female executive and owner of a high-profile niche brand of alcohol. Our goal was to enable her to negotiate directly with her husband, a lawyer himself, rather than involving third-party representatives on each side. Why? Because if younger children are involved, as in this case, we believe it’s best to have the two partners to marriage directly negotiate the basic terms of their separation or divorce agreement whenever possible to build their mutual capacity to deal with one another over time. The result: an outcome and ongoing relationship that far surpassed all expectations when we were first approached to help.

Negotiation Keynote Speaker

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Cambridge, USA — Vancouver, Canada