Michael M. Carter is the founder and CEO of BizEquity and the inventor of an online valuation service that's helping the small business economy. BizEquity was recently recognized as one of the top 360 companies in the United States by Entrepreneur Media for two years in a row.
1. Tell us about your role in Bizequity?
Michael M. Carter, Founder + CEO. As the founder, this started with an idea and a vision that turned into a mission. That mission rings true today. It is what we work towards everyday. My job is to make sure my team stays on mission and we constantly stay true to it and better serve our clients and partners through continued innovation and always doing the right thing.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I am a software entrepreneur and then learned the venture capital/ private equity business business through my mentor, Warren V. “Pete” Musser. It was through meeting hundreds of entrepreneurs and one particular deal that we were working on together, that I came to realize how little business owners know about the value of their business, and how few resources there are in the market for them in that regard. That began our mission to help democratize business valuation knowledge for every private business owner around the world.
3. How do you think technology is changing the Financial Sector?
It’s forcing the incumbents, and the financial services behemoths to innovate and invest in technology to offer their clients a better overall experience. Technology is allowing for them to make faster and better decisions on things like underwriting, risk assessment, portfolio management etc. Data plays a big part in that, but the data you have is only as good as how fast you can analyze it, deliver it, and consume it. Technology without context or the interpretation of the data through insight of the institution, or the advisor, or the application itself, will not lead to anything compelling or revolutionary. I think what is happening that is so exciting is the partnering we are witnessing in the FinTech and WealthTech space between startups and large institutions.
4. How do you think the introduction of technology is benefiting Business valuation functions?
Before we created BizEquity there was just the traditional offline service model. According to IBIS world, that market is over $8billion dollars annually and consists of 8,000 offline providers delivering business valuation reports that take 4 weeks to product and cost upwards of $8,000.00. BizEquity totally disrupted that market and put it online and enabled advisors to deliver business valuation insight better-faster-cheaper than ever before. Technology through Big Data and the cloud made that possible.
5. Before BizEquity started only 2% business knew their value, what was the reason according to you, and how BizEquity is changing it?
It was because valuation wasn’t built with the business owner in mind. It was slow. It was intrustive. It was off-line. Worst of all it was expensive. We changed that by putting it online, and putting it in the hands of those that serve the business owner. We made it truly a transparent and interative experience. Think Netflix vs. a VHS recording.
6. Can you give us more information about your partnership with Orion Advisor Services?
Very exciting partnership for us. Eric Clarke, their CEO stood on stage at the Schwab impact conference and said, “The $12 Trillion of wealth in private companies today, represents the greatest opportunity for advisors today.” That was music to our ears. I got in touch, we connected on the phone, and within two weeks he flew some of his development team to our Philadelphia offices for a hack-a-thon where we integrated our platform into theirs, and are marketing it to their advisors through our partnership.
7. Recently we covered the news of the launch of Franklin the first advisor based AI enabled lead service, how do you think it will help companies in easing their functions?
Business owners are craving advice. Especially as it relates to the value of their largest asset, their business. Franklin connects those business owners to the best in breed advisors that serve them in several different specialties (estate planning, wealth management, succession planning, risk management, insurance, accounting, M&A etc). Franklin makes it possible for business owners through their advisors to get a 29 page valuation report for free from best of breed financial advisors.
8. What advice would you like to give to the StartUps of Fintech Industry?
Be passionate about what you are doing and stay true to your mission and if you are truly delivering value you will win eventually. Selling into the financial services space doesn’t come without it’s challenges, with time being the greatest one. The banks, wealth management firms, and insurance companies that you want to collaborate with, want to collaborate with you. Make it impossible for them to say no to you eventually. If you have a platform offering, build a bite size / lower priced per seat or instance based application to prove that it works in the field, then they can’t say no at the corporate / home office.
9. What is the Digital innovation according to you that will mark 2019?
I think it’s the overhaul of the client experience through conversational AI or intelligence. No one piece of technology can solve it all, but companies are working hard to provide a better experience for their clients because they are used to getting it elsewhere (Amazon, Airbnb, Netflix etc). The client wants accurate and relevant information quickly, displayed nicely, and cheaply through simple integration and an elegant application or consumption layer.
10. What is the vision, on which you and BizEquity are working on?
We are steadfast on our mission to democratize business valuation knowledge for the business owner. We want to become a noun. When business owners and their advisors think about what they are worth and what products they need based on their value (insurance-wealth planning-retirement balancing-lending-tax planning) they think “I need a BizEquity.” Today we have helped over 250,000 business owners around the world discover their value through nearly 3,000 advisors in real-time for only a fraction of the traditional cost. In the future we will help them optimize their value and have dynamic products that will meet their needs as they grow.
11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
Franklin, our AI engine is getting smarter every day. Today, Franklin connects business owners curious about the value of their business to the appropriate advisor to serve them. Over time, Franklin will provide insights to the business owner on how to grow the value of their business by utilizing different strategies and pulling certain levers. We will also be working with our ecosystem to build products infused by business value that will help business owners.
12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
Our team is terrific. Everyone on the team is passionate about our mission and we all try to get better every day.. Our technology team lead by our CTO constantly innovates and makes our platform better for our clients. Our Success team boasts over 91% client retention and a very high NPS score as a leading indicator. Our new head of sales and marketing team do a great job telling our story and opening doors to get our platform in the hands of more people. We are blessed to have a good team who care about our mission and whom are always trying to do what is right for the client.
13. Which movie inspires you a lot?
I love Sea Biscuit. It is bit of the life of an entrepreneur. Big hopes and dreams, some set backs along the way but in the end you can win if you stay with it, have a good group around you who care about you and your mission, and a focus towards the light, staying true to your mission.
14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, so can you share with us some of the fun pictures of your workplace?
Well we are always trying to get better and improve and have a transparent and flat culture. I think we are all very pleased that the market is beginning to reward us for being ahead and have great product and service that is seeking to help business owners. I think through our engineering team who are always implementing new technology to help us communicate better and faster that has really helped. We have dashboards everywhere and have integrated Slack into many different aspects of our organization.
15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?
UBER – SLACK – LYFT – HOTELS TONIGHT – EXPEDIA – LINKEDIN – BIZEQUITY – TWITTER – AMERICAN AIRLINES- VIRGIN ATLANTIC – TED – SOUTHWEST ARILINES – 23 AND ME – WSJ – FAMILY – QUICKBOOKS – BLINKIST