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Thomas Smale: Unlocking Doors of Opportunities

In an interview with Insights Success, the Founder of FE International, Thomas Smale shares the key insights over his organization’s delivery of reformative M&A services with an emphasis on mid-market SaaS, e-commerce and content businesses, as well as his efficiency and a state of being au fait with all-encompassing advisory and exit planning processes and services. Considering these significant and inspirational traits, Insights Success recognizes Thomas as one of the most influential entrepreneurs of 2018.
Below are highlights from the interview between Thomas and Insights Success:
Give a brief overview of your background as an entrepreneur.
I am the Founder of FE International and serial online business entrepreneur. In my early 20s, I began building and selling small online companies. My experience building and growing digital businesses led me to advising fellow entrepreneurs in the space. This turned into a full-time career when I founded FE International in 2010, from which point we have grown the business with zero funds from ground up and consistently doubled annual revenue, as well as the average deal size. I specialize in advising in the mergers and acquisitions of SaaS, e-commerce, affiliate and content businesses, and at this point have consulted hundreds of internet entrepreneurs on exit strategy, growth and business development.
How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal to the target audience?
As expert M&A advisors, my team and I tailor the exit planning advice offered to digital entrepreneurs to suit the unique needs of the business’ and the entrepreneurs’ goals in question. Similarly, when connecting investors with an acquisition opportunity, FE’s extensive vetting process for buyers ensures that the investor’s needs are closely examined and they are matched with an asset that fits their strategic needs.
Describe some of the vital attributes that every entrepreneur should possess.
Resilience will take you far as an entrepreneur, as well as patience with the ups and downs of the journey. Building a successful business over a decade involves countless growing pains (even and in fact especially if you are experiencing steady growth), which means that it is imperative not to get frustrated and give up when you meet the inevitable obstacles that come your way.
What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that have shaped your journey?
There have been many, but just a few of the highlights would be winning the International Business Broker’s Association Deal Maker of the Year Award two years running and making the Inc5000 Europe list in 2018. Those were some of the biggest milestones, among many others, shaping my journey as an entrepreneur.
How do you strategize your game plans to tackle competition in the market?
As the leading M&A advisory firm for online businesses and thought-leaders in the space, FE International has had the unique opportunity to define a new category in which to operate, so we do not allocate much resource to concerning ourselves with other companies. The key to our success has been to focus on continuously offering the best service in the market.
What were the primal challenges and roadblocks you faced during the initial phase of your career as an entrepreneur?
The biggest challenge initially is nearly always getting the word out about the value you have to offer. Once you determine the best marketing channel for spreading awareness and generating repeat business, the pain points transition to a more operational and development-oriented nature.
Where do you see yourself in the near future and what are your future goals?
To continue growing FE International 100% YoY as well as expand our flagship NYC, and London, offices.
What is your advice for budding and emerging entrepreneurs?
Don’t give up when it gets tough. If the market is responding to your product or service but you are feeling overwhelmed and thus tempted to call it quits, first reach out to friends (or strangers) in the industry through conferences, social groups and forums. One of the best ways to connect with people who will understand your unique challenges is to attend industry conferences; you will gain something valuable 99% of the time.
About the Organization
FE International, founded in 2010, is headquartered in New York, with offices also in Boston, Chicago, Edmond, London, Hong Kong and Singapore. The organization provides advisory services for mid-market SaaS, e-commerce and content businesses. It has become the pre-eminent advisor and valuation thought-leader in the industry, completing hundreds of millions in sales across over 600 deals since 2010.
The team at FE International is comprised of professionals from investment banking, strategy consulting as well as online entrepreneurs, who have an extensive transaction execution expertise. The organization’s advisors complement this formal experience with unique and innovative approaches to deal with marketing and structuring.
FE International offers comprehensive exit planning services as well as direct access to an established network of pre-qualified international investors to drive demand to clients’ businesses and maximize value for the company.
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Source: The 30 Most Influential Entrepreneurs to Watch 2018