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How To Break Up With Your Business Partner

January 18, 2019 |  

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How do you place a fair valuation on your company when one partner wants out while the other is ready to continue?

How do you place a fair valuation on your company when only one partner wants out, and the other is ready to continue? The answer – for Judith Nowlin and her partner Amanda – wasn’t a matter of calculating how far they’ve come, but rather how far they would go.

Nowlin, co-founder of iBirth™, a daily pregnancy, postpartum and baby tracker app, found herself in a complex situation when her co-founder and good friend was ready to step down from the business.

While most would be left perturbed, for Nowlin, it pushed her to evaluate the company’s potential valuation and helped lay the foundation of transforming iBirth™ toward a B2B model with a stream of recurring revenue — and ultimately finding a strategic buyer to acquire the business.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How to handle a business partner who wants out – and ways you can keep them as an investor and advisor
  • The difference between a financial buyer and strategic buyer, and how to approach the latter
  • How a recurring revenue stream can transform your business
  • One easy way to determine if your B2C business can evolve into a B2B model

iBirth™ improved its value by creating a stream recurring revenue, which Nowlin claims to be the key to its success. How could your company implement recurring revenue? Module 5 of The Value Builder System™ explores the Automatic Customer Builder. To discover your business’ potential, take the Value Builder Score.

Our guest

Judith Nowlin founded iBirth™ in 2009 as a mobile daily care companion for pregnancy, birth and postpartum. The original idea for the app was born out of Judith’s prior decade of boots-on-the-ground service in maternity care as a healthcare educator, birth doula and postpartum doula.n addition to designing, building and marketing the iBirth product in the emerging DTC and B2B digital healthcare sector, Judith has co-directed maternity skills trainings for refugee and immigrant women in Denver, was awarded the distinguished 40 Under Forty recognition in Boulder Valley

Transcript

John Warrillow:                This episode of Built to Sell Radio is brought to you by Industrial Device Investments. One of the ways to sell your business is through a minority or majority recapitalization. What’s that? Well, it’s where a private equity group, or PE firm, buys your business. You get to take some of the money off the table and keep your job running your company as CEO and shareholder. Now the problem with a lot of these so called PE deals is that the investor, not always, but in many cases, is a money guy or gal with no clue how to run a business, and that’s why Industrial Device Investments is so different.

John Warrillow:                They are operators, just like you, and they understand what it takes to build a business. The firm was founded by a guy named John Dalton. Look him up on Linkedin. He’s an engineer and spent years at GE and Black and Decker before becoming a full time investor. Here’s the thing, you want maximum value for your business and a bright future for your employees and that’s where industrial device investments comes in. They speak your language, not the jargon of the finance guys, and they invest their own money and don’t answer to outside shareholders. An interesting option for sure. Visit I D invest dot net to find out more. That’s IDinvest.net. Check them out.

John Warrillow:                You know when you break it all down, there’s really two potential acquirers for your business. There’s the financial buyer who buys your future stream of profit, and they’re going to spend more for your business if you can prove that your future stream of profit is likely to grow and it’s very reliable, and then there’s the strategic buyer. A strategic buyer is buying what your business is worth in their hands. They’ve got some strategic assets that they can leverage to make your business worth more to them that it might be to you, and that’s the situation that Judith Nowlin focused or found herself in.

John Warrillow:                She started iBirth, which was an application for moms or expecting moms who wanted to kind of get coaching and knowledge about what the next few trimesters was gonna look like. Well, she sold her business to a company called Babyscripts, and Babyscripts also had a model of helping moms, but they went through physicians in OB-Gyn, and so Judith had the direct to mom’s channel and content figured out, but Babyscripts wanted that piece to add to their equation, and as Judith does a great job describing, it really is the quintessential strategic acquisition. Here to tell you the rest of the story is Judith Nowlin.

John Warrillow:                Judith Nowlin, welcome to Built to Sell Radio!

Judith Nowlin:                   Thanks so much John. Great to be here.

John Warrillow:                Tell me about the genesis of iBirth. I understand this was an application for new moms or expecting moms, tell me about it.

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s right. So I built iBirth from the ground up from an idea that came out of my boots on the ground work as a healthcare educator, birth doula, and postpartum doula. I was working for families.

John Warrillow:                I’ve heard of a doula. It’s such a goofy, I can’t even say it with a straight face, like doula. What does a doula do anyway?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah. So a Doula is a non medical labor assistant essentially, pregnancy and labor assistance. So not responsible for the medical side whatsoever, throughout a woman’s pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time. That’s up to the physician, the OB-Gyn, and the midwife, but a doula helps with informational, physical, and emotional support through pregnancy, all the way throughout the entire labor and delivery process, and then a postpartum doula comes in to help with the transition into the home once the family has the newborn baby in arms.

John Warrillow:                So you were, you worked with with moms and got them through the process of giving birth and the first few months after giving birth. Is that right?

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. As an educator, they’d come into classes, you know, you can get the picture in your head. Mom and dad pillows under their arms. We’re going to lay around, we’re going to do some breathing, you know, learn how babies make their movement, all that great stuff and then accompanying them actually through all the blood, sweat and tears, for anybody who’s had a baby, you know all that’s involved there.

John Warrillow:                I don’t wanna get this any gorier than that. That’s it. Got it. Okay, good.

Judith Nowlin:                   You get the picture.

John Warrillow:                I get the picture. I don’t need any more details. So how did the App come about? So you had all this knowledge obviously, and these experiences. So how did you came to the idea to build an App?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah so I was building my business in all of that in the Boulder, Colorado area, and people start telling friends and family about it and I begin receiving phone calls from across state lines. So people started calling from Wyoming and Nebraska and they’d say, “Judith, I’ve heard about what you do and I’d like to sign up, pay the money and come see you every week and drive three hours.” And I’d say, “Oh no, no, no, no. Drive three hours through Colorado in the middle of February in your third trimester? That’s a terrible idea. Let’s not do that. But tell me this, why are you calling me?”

Judith Nowlin:                   And they’d say, “Well, you know, I heard about the transformative power of this and we don’t have that where I’m from.” Right, “I don’t have access to that in the middle of Wyoming where I am. So I’m willing to drive three hours each direction to come and see you.” And at that I’d say, “Well, let me help you find somebody, and I’ll help you navigate and see if we can get somebody who can help you out in your area.” But then as these calls started coming in more and more and more, I realized, oh my gosh, ding, ding, ding. We’ve got a little bit of a problem here, and if there’s anybody to solve the problem, I might as well be the one to solve it. So-

John Warrillow:                And Judith, how did you decide to, so you obviously had this demand and a lot of content to share, how did you decide to go with a mobile App versus kind of a website delivery model or some other sort of IP delivery model? Like how did you decide on, on an App?

Judith Nowlin:                   It was all about the timing. So 2008, 2009 was the year of there’s an App for that, right? App Store is pretty much brand new and everywhere you turn on the radio, on the internet, on the television set, there’s an app for that, there’s an App for that, there’s an App for that, back then.

John Warrillow:                Got it. And how were you, in the original days, how were you planning to monetize the App? Was it a, was it a paid app that people would download?

Judith Nowlin:                   It was. So in the original days, when we first put it out, we put it out there on the marketplace that you’re going to pay a one time fee to download and have access to the App. It was a direct to consumer model we said the price of a class and doula services is all these hundreds of dollars, you know, what is $4.99 to two to purchase an app that’s going to kind of be a doula in your pocket kind of idea.

John Warrillow:                Cool. So whenever Steve Jobs, wasn’t it, he said like a thousand songs in your pocket was the original app and you’re putting a doula in your pocket.

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s right, yeah.

John Warrillow:                And so how did the pricing model change over time? Did you move to subscription?

Judith Nowlin:                   Oh boy. We played around with it like crazy because we realized that asking $4.99 at this time in the evolution of the App economy was almost like asking for a million dollars from people. There were a lot of free apps that were coming out into the marketplace and so we really played around with our pricing model in so many different ways. We’d put the App on sale and now it’s ninety nine cents for a period of time. We tried making the app such that it was a freemium model, so download for free and then pay a little bit to upgrade for certain features and functionality. We split part of the App off and monetize that part of the App, a of a contraction timer, through ad revenue.

Judith Nowlin:                   At that time, I couldn’t figure out, this was way back when, and the app economy was not well established, now I think we’ve got really clear ideas on what subscription model app services look like. Back then it wasn’t well established and for whatever reason I wasn’t coming up with the magic solution on how to monetize the app in a subscription model for our consumers.

John Warrillow:                I love the contraction monitoring service. I think that’s awesome. I like minutes between contractions, that’s great.

Judith Nowlin:                   Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

John Warrillow:                So what did you end up landing on? Like what was the ultimate business model that you had in place in terms of charge, I should say business model, I mean what did you end up charging for it over time?

Judith Nowlin:                   Well, so what we actually ended ended up on is we went direct to consumer, we tried all these methods to monetize it and it really wasn’t sticking, but the way that we were going to market was we were going to the people that we knew, quote unquote our people, which were the physicians, the midwives, the nurses, educators, doulas, we’re showing up at their conferences and saying, “We’ve got an app,” that at that time it was called Mhealth, like mobile health. “We’ve got an Mhealth app that we think your clients, your customers, your patients are really gonna love, and by the way, not only they’re going to love it, but it’s going to help make your life easier as a clinician because everything they need to know about on these particular topics is right inside here, in their back pocket, 24/7.”

Judith Nowlin:                   So few years We were going to these conferences and we had a great, great response. These folks were saying, “Absolutely, this is remarkable. We can’t wait to tell our patient population about this.” Right? “Our new moms and our new dads,” and then the next year we’d show up and they’d say, “We’ve been telling everybody and they love it, and wouldn’t it be so cool if we could really make it our own? Wouldn’t it be great if our phone numbers could be inside, and our address could be inside, and some of the information that we’re telling our patients about could be inside of this app?” At which again, I went, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, okay, I see the light. Let’s go ahead and transition the company from a D to C focused company, direct to consumer, and let’s instead go B to B. Let’s start selling a white labeled, branded and customized version of this app product to those healthcare organizations who want to distribute it to their healthcare consumers, their moms and dads, as a benefit to coming into their care.

John Warrillow:                So what kind of healthcare organizations are we talking about? Like are we talking about like birthing clinics and hospitals, like hospitals and offices that specialized in OB-Gyn, or clinics?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, so I designed the product such that it could scale from the largest of healthcare systems all the way down to individual practitioners and everybody in between. So that included not only those large healthcare systems that have many birthing hospitals and OB-Gyn clinics across an entire geographical region, as well as individual hospitals who have just one site, and freestanding birth centers, and independent practice groups, and we even had a handful of individual practitioners who tried the product out when we first launched B to B.

John Warrillow:                And so what was the ultimate business model, you charged in a business to business setting? You charged the healthcare provider. Did you charge them sort of a one time fee or a per download or how did that economic model work?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, so what we landed on was a one time implementation fee to get the product all wired up and out the door for them, as well as a annual recurring licensing fee.

John Warrillow:                Got It, got it. So you had that recurring revenue from the hospitals or the healthcare providers?

Judith Nowlin:                   Absolutely, yep. That recurring revenue is absolutely key to this whole story.

John Warrillow:                Why do you say that?

Judith Nowlin:                   Well, when I first, you know, with the direct to consumer version of the app, we were charging a one time cost, per download, one time a pay that fee and you’ve got the program for the rest of your life as long as you would like it, and I brought that same line of thinking over into the b to b business and I was course corrected it really quickly from my advisors, who said you do not want to go out with this with a one time fee only, because there are recurring costs that are associated with the upkeep, the development, the upkeep, the maintenance, the support of your software product, and therefore you really do need that annual recurring licensing fee as a result of your software as a service business.

Judith Nowlin:                   I think before these conversations with my advisors, I wasn’t thinking of my company as a software as a service business, but it was only after that transition to B to b that I realized that that’s what we have here. This is actually a SAS company.

John Warrillow:                How did you finance the growth of iBirth?

Judith Nowlin:                   Oh that’s a great question. So, it was bootstrapped all the way. So essentially, I mean when we just boil that down, it’s in the early days, $10 would come in and we’d put that $10 right back into the company and the development of the product. Next a thousand dollars would come in and we’d put that thousand dollars right back in.

John Warrillow:                So how much did you have to initially seed the company with to get the first version of the app sort of out there?

Judith Nowlin:                   It’s a very small amount. My original co-founder and I put in a total of $8,000.

John Warrillow:                A total of $8,000. And was the co-founder someone that worked in the company or were they sort of a silent investor?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, so my co founder, she is to date one of my best friends in the whole wide world, but there was an interesting co-founder unfolding, as many, many co-founder relationships do over the course of time as you start building a company together. So she was a fellow educator and doula here in my area, and we, long before that day where I said, “I’ve got an idea, iPhone app.” We had been cooking up ideas about how to essentially scale all the good work that was unfolding in our face to face work with families. So we’re thinking of all kinds of different ideas. Do we write a book? Do we make a video series? Do we start a website or a blog? Just really just ideating over and over and over again until that day when it just struck me, let’s make an app. If we’re talking about scale, let’s make an app and see how this goes.

Judith Nowlin:                   So she and I did all of the original work together to bring the app to fruition and put it out there into the marketplace, and we had an incredible time doing all of that work, building it up, and pushing it out the door. In fact, nine years ago this week, but as time wore on, and we got into the trying to figure out the business model, trying to figure out how it was going to be a sustainable in regards to the, the financial side of this, and we got into the marketing of the product, she turned to me and said, “You know what, I’m not really all that enthused about this anymore.” And because her heart and her interests were calling her elsewhere. She is an incredible philanthropist and she does incredible work for women and families and the New York City area, and she just felt like her talents would be better used there rather than behind the glass screen and staring at a spreadsheet all day, these kinds of things.

John Warrillow:                So how did you guys sort that out? Because she kicked in four grand, how did you kind of deal with extricating her from the business?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah. So it was one of those talks that was a heart to heart, where I looked at her and I said, “I’m sensing that you are really not in this anymore. I’m getting the feeling that it’s almost like paining you or it’s hurting you in a way, to maintain participation.” She was like, “Yeah, you’re absolutely right.” And I said, “You know, I just want to call a spade, a spade. If this isn’t working for you, that’s okay. We’re not going to try to force something that’s not a good fit. So I want to keep moving forward. I want to keep driving this business towards its success and it’s okay if you don’t want to participate with me in that.” She was like, “Oh, thank heavens, yes, woo!” Pretending like this is working, or trying to make it work when it’s not, wasn’t good for anybody, myself included and her, and end the business at large.

Judith Nowlin:                   So, we sat down at a table and said, what does this look like then to renegotiate our stake in the company? And we came to an agreement and renegotiated that equity stake, something that felt good to her and something that felt good and right to me and then we moved forward. The most beautiful part of the whole story is that oftentimes when this kind of thing happens, I think that relationships can get really spoiled, and people can hold grudges and have, have anger with one another, and serious issues that they’ve got to work through. The beautiful part is that we were able to maintain our friendship and create more depth to what we had started by starting a business together. The relationship continued to blossom and grow even more from there.

John Warrillow:                So how did you guys sort out the percentage of the business that you were going to keep, and because you were now doing all the work, I assume-

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s right.

John Warrillow:                And I assume should have been given the lion’s share of the sweat equity, and by the way Judith, this happens all the time. Right? So co-founders, one realizes, wow this is way more work than I thought, and they bail and there’s this awkward situation it’s like, okay, well, like you can’t have half the equity if you’re not doing half the work. So what advice would you give to another co-founder couple that is trying to, to kind of decouple, a conscious decoupling? Like how do you value the company and do they walk away from their investment? Like what advice would you give someone going through this?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, at that time, so we had not made that b to b pivot yet, right? So it was really after that conversation that I took the bull by the horns and made that full b to b pivot. So at that time we were looking at, you know, how do you value the company, right? What’s the valuation? And boy we were coming up with a whole lot of nothing. Right. And so we said, let’s take a step back and evaluate where we think we’re going, where we think this is headed, and what it’s gonna take to get there, and let’s consider the amount of work that we’ve done to date. What is that amount, right? What percentage of the total overall work toward that larger end goal have you shared in, did you participate in? That’s how we got to our number.

John Warrillow:                So historically speaking, so I know you can’t say exactly what the proportions were, but let’s assume that leading up to that conversation you had put in 60 percent of the work and she had put in 40 percent, then going forward, you’d 60 she’d own 40, is that the kind of way you saw it off? Or did you look at, and going forward I’m going to put an 100 percent of the work you’re going to put in zero, and so I should get more than 60/40.

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s correct.

John Warrillow:                Did you think about the future?

Judith Nowlin:                   It’s the latter. That’s right.

John Warrillow:                I see, I see. Okay, got it. That’s helpful. That’s helpful for sure. So you make this pivot. How big did you get this business, Judith, before you decided that you were going to sell it?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, so after the pivot, so before the pivot was about four years, give or take that it was that direct to consumer model or trying to figure it out, and then after the pivot it was about four years, give or take, a until the point where I did go ahead and make the decision to sell it. So in that four years we were able to build a platform product that was truly software as a service that would meet the needs of those largest healthcare systems all the way down to the smallest ones, everybody in between, and we were able to get healthcare customers in 14 states around the nation.

John Warrillow:                Fantastic. So these are health care providers. How many downloads did you get to?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, overall in total, we were able to impact nearly one million families with our iBirth product, and what’s interesting is way back when we started, Amanda, my co-founder and I, we were sitting around her kitchen table, putting the product together, doing product development, and content curation, and design work, all of these great things, and we’d sit around with our cup of chai and our dark chocolate and it was often after-

John Warrillow:                How did I know it was going to be chai and dark chocolate?

Judith Nowlin:                   Did you know that?

John Warrillow:                Well, I dont know, a doula? Come on. It wasn’t going to be like rye and, you know, a cigar.

Judith Nowlin:                   Oh gosh. Well it was chai and dark chocolate, we have a favorite chai that’s born out of Boulder, Colorado where we are here. These moments, they were almost like, when I look back on my life to date, these are purely magical moments, where she and I, we have seven kids between us, right? So we’re building this software product. When we’ve got all these little kids, we’ve got husbands who travel for work, and we were so dedicated and so crazy about making this work despite all the challenges, despite the fact that neither of us have a technology background, neither of us have a software background, right, and we were so crazy to make this work that most times we would get together to do our work after we put the children to bed. So oftentimes I’d drive over to her house, I’d bed my children down at her house while her children are in bed, and then we’d get to work.

Judith Nowlin:                   Now I remember so clearly some of those moments around that table, saying to each other, do you think anybody’s going to like this? Do you think anybody’s going to want this? Is this going to be useful? Well, there’s no telling until we do it and put it out there. I mean, we think based on all our market research that it is, but really we don’t know until we get it out there and we’d say, if honest to goodness, for all this work that we’re doing, if it impacts one family towards a better outcome, a positive outcome for themselves and their child, then mission accomplished. We’ve done well, we’ve done well, and so at the end of the day when we’re able to say we’ve impacted almost one million families with what we built, I mean it’s glorious, honestly.

John Warrillow:                Obviously its impacted a lot of people, and it far exceeded what you thought in those late night sessions with Amanda for sure. It’s incredible to think about it in that, in that regard. Did you dream about with Amanda, I mean did you guys talk about selling it one day? Was that sort of part of the plan on those late night sessions?

Judith Nowlin:                   Honest to goodness, it was not. It was not. It was all about we can build something that is going to change lives and we are hyperfocused on that.

John Warrillow:                So what changed? What was the trigger that made you want to sell?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah. So fast forward now, right? We’re full eight, nine years past those late night sessions around her kitchen table, and I’m doing the b to b business, right? 14 states around the nation and our customers, who are the healthcare providers, are coming to us just like they did when we were going to those conferences and they’d say across the table, “Yes, our patients, our moms and dads absolutely loved this, but what if? I can totally see how wonderful this would be if we could really make it our own and tweak this, and tweak that part, really speak our language and share our message that we’re sharing already with the moms and dads that we serve.”

Judith Nowlin:                   So now, just most recently this past year, I’m starting to collect feedback from my customers who are saying, “Hey, this product is amazing. It’s working so well. In fact, it’s exceeding our expectations. Our patient population loves it and it’s helping our health system in these ways, and what if the app that we’re using today could speak to the certain risk stratified conditions, the risk conditions of pregnancy and postpartum?” So for instance, we’ve got a lot of gestational diabetic patients, and right now the app covers really the healthy pregnancy, but what if we could do something with the app so that we can speak to the needs of the gestational diabetic mother? What if we could do something with the app that could speak to the needs of the postpartum hypertension problem that we’re having and so that we can address that and do earlier intervention?

John Warrillow:                You kinda lost me though. So my question was like what triggered the desire to sell, because you guys were building this kind of mission business, mission oriented business, so what is trying to serve diabetic moms have to do with the triggering event?

Judith Nowlin:                   Great. Thanks for bringing me back around. So, the triggering event was when I came back to my desk and said “They’re right. We absolutely need to build toward these risk conditions.” Well, meanwhile there’s a company in Washington DC, who for the past four years has been selling a product to OB-Gyn physician groups, healthcare systems, and hospitals in the pregnancy space, that is built entirely around the risk conditions and the risk modules in pregnancy essentially, but they know that they need to build towards this very highly emotive, patient centric experience that we have.

John Warrillow:                So their app was really the clinical, the technical, it’s for the OB-Gyn and they talk technical. Your App was really for the moms and it spoke directly to them.

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s right.

John Warrillow:                And so again, I go back, I get the strategic relationship, I understand that, but, but just personally, why not continue to run it independently? Why consider selling the business essentially?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah. So essentially after getting on the phone with them, with this other company in Washington DC, they called me out of the blue and they basically said, “Hey, we’ve had our eyes on you. We’ve been watching you. You have something that we know we need. We think we have something you need and perhaps we should consider a partnership.” To which I said “A partnership? What are we really talking about here? Are we really talking about coming together?” And at the end of the day when I really sat and thought about continuing on on my path versus coming together with this other company, my perspective was that the whole was better than the sum of its parts, and that bringing the two companies together into what I now refer to as a blended family, would be a much stronger presence in the marketplace than if we were to continue on our path that we were on.

John Warrillow:                Right, but you went from the mission driven mom with Amanda to like, I guess ultimately you would become an employee of a bigger company, Right?

Judith Nowlin:                   That’s correct.

John Warrillow:                How did you reconcile that in your mind?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah. That is a great question, John. So I had been the owner of the company. I had been the founder of the company. I had been the boss, right. I knew everything that was going on, every reason behind every single thing we did, every move that we make. So there was a strong consideration from my side around what does it look like to become no longer all of those things and join up and, in essence, just be an employee of a company. That said, in the negotiations we talked so much about my background, my expertise, and what I could bring to the founding team of the new company.

Judith Nowlin:                   So yes I am, on paper and on the books, an employee of the new company, but I am truly a member of the founder team. They brought me into the founder’s circle of this company saying, “look, we are bringing the two companies together on paper. It’s an acquisition in practice. It’s more of a merger, and so Judith brings with her that area of expertise, or that subject matter expertise, from the patient experience,” that they didn’t have before I joined them.

John Warrillow:                How did Amanda react to the offer?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yes. So, she had been out of the inner workings of the business for about four years at this point, and she had been acting with her equity stake that she still had, she had been acting, in a sense, as one of my advisors. So I would bounce ideas off of her, she would give really clear and concise feedback, and she’d do a tremendous amount of listening to me and helping to understand where I’m coming from and give appropriate reflection and guidance, and honestly, when I said, “Hey, I’m really considering this. This seems like something that I want to do and where I want to move the company into.” And she said, “Judith, you’ve made all the best decisions to date. I trust you.”

John Warrillow:                And so even though it had a material financial impact for her, she let you run the negotiations almost independently.?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yes. That is true. Yep.

John Warrillow:                Wow, and you just Kinda said, “Hey honey, I gotta check for you.”

Judith Nowlin:                   Totally. Totally.

John Warrillow:                Wow that’s great. She put a lot of trust in you, that’s amazing.

Judith Nowlin:                   I think that’s the beauty of the relationship that we continue to create and build upon since we had our founders split, is that that level of trust, which is so important, and so for her to say, “Judith, honest to goodness, you’ve made all the best decisions. You’ve got it to this point, so you know, go ahead, go for it and, and let me know.”

John Warrillow:                Now I know Babyscripts didn’t reveal the deal term, so we have to be careful around that topic. What, you know, if you look at the entire sort of arc of the deal, so I’m not really referring to the entire company now, I’m talking about once you’d sort of entered into that initial conversation with Babyscripts, is there something that, if you had it to do over again, you might change or do differently?

Judith Nowlin:                   That is a great question. Gosh, it went really smoothly. We were in tight communication. So we had meetings that were happening every single morning, very early in the morning since they’re on the east coast, very early for me, but good news is I’m an early riser, so that wasn’t too much of a trouble. So it went fairly smoothly. I mean would, gosh, would I change anything about how it went? Oh, I mean, just the unknowns when you’re negotiating, and you put something out there and then it sits out there for awhile. I don’t have control over this, but what’s happening for you as a founder on the other side, when you don’t know what they’re thinking, you don’t know what they’re going to come back at you with.

Judith Nowlin:                   You know, if I had some kind of crystal ball that would have, I think, created a lot fewer gray hairs for me perhaps, but it’s kind of like sending your child off to college. That’s how I would think about it is, it’s now time for this child, that I’ve born and raised, to go off to college and we’re putting our college application out there and let’s wait and see what they come back with and let’s see if we really agree that this is a good fit. I knew the whole way along that, you know, it might not be. It might come back at me that this is not the right fit at the right time and that would be totally okay.

John Warrillow:                Did you ever consider sort of shopping the business more proactively, getting other companies to bid on it in addition to Babyscripts?

Judith Nowlin:                   Prior to their phone call, I was in conversation with a handful of other types of organizations looking at do we go down the funding path? We had taken zero funding today, not a single dollar. So do we go down that path? There were other companies who were approaching on the topic of acquisition, and so all of this was wheeling around in my head at the time of the negotiation with Babyscripts, and the truth is that, for many of those other companies, it was a little bit difficult for me to see the fit. It wasn’t just clear as day how we fit together, and they were approaching because they saw and they saw a need to fill a gap in their businesses, but for me, it was like kind of, you know, we’re working a little too hard to see how these things work together and what the go forward plan is.

Judith Nowlin:                   Babyscripts was the exact opposite when they called. It was, it was just clear as day to me how the two companies would fit together, how the two companies merged together would fit into the overall scheme of the marketplace, and how we would grow together toward our combined mission toward helping to transform maternity care in the United States today.

John Warrillow:                Well it’s an amazing story and I’m grateful for you sharing it. Judith, what is the best way for people to learn about you, what Babyscripts is up to, the iBirth app? Where would you send people to listening to this?

Judith Nowlin:                   Yeah, Linkedin is a great spot. So I’m pretty active on Linkedin and sharing lots of our media, and the publications that I do, all on the Linkedin channel, and I’m always happy to message with people and get to know folks and answer questions, all that good stuff.

John Warrillow:                Awesome. So it’s Judith Nowlin, but it’s spelled a little funny. A little differently than it sounds. So it’s spelled N-O-W-L-A-N, but pronounced Nowlin.

Judith Nowlin:                   Well no, there’s an I. N-O-W-L-I-N.

John Warrillow:                Forgive me. Thank you for correcting me, much easier to find as well. So that’s great. On Linkedin is the best place to reach you with. Judith, thank you so much for joining us.

Judith Nowlin:                   Thank you John. So glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

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