Orchestrate: What went into its acquisition by Conga

A workflow automation tool received so much industry recognition that it spun out and became its own company.

Nearly four years later, that company was acquired.

That company is Orchestrate and it was acquired by Conga last month, which is backed by private equity firm Insight Venture Partners out of New York. Orchestrate—which as of March 26 is part of the Conga brand—produces and sells software that automates workflow for financial services companies.

“We were approached last fall,” Orchestrate President and Co-CTO Josh Van Heukelom explained. “When Conga needs certain types of functionality, they work with Insight Venture Partners and their research team to go find people.”

Sayer Martin, Orchestrate COO and Co-CTO said its common for private equity firms to have teams of people meeting with companies and the Conga conversation was one of many they’ve had since launching Orchestrate in 2012.

“Most of them haven’t felt right or didn’t make sense to continue,” Martin said. “This was one that really did seem to fit. It made sense from both a cultural standpoint as well as a strategic standpoint. It’s not like a retail shop and they look at a shelf.”

Martin said when you are building a company, you don’t do it to be acquired.

“There won’t be much value there,” Martin says. “You have to build as if you are going to be around for 100 years, keeping an eye on the long-term and be sustainable.”

Life after an acquisition

Working with an outsourced CFO helped Orchestrate get its reporting structure in place, something Van Heukelom said made the process much smoother.

“It’s a lot of due-diligence work, luckily our house was in pretty good order so it wasn’t too painful,” he said. “Tracking the right metrics for a SaaS (software as a service) business. I think a lot of times smaller companies don’t have this sophistication on the financial side to really track the right things. We spent about a year getting that in place and that was very helpful.”

Van Heukelom said Conga is committed to Des Moines and that their office size will be doubling and they are actively looking to hire.

Martin said that is one of the major benefits from the acquisition.

“We are still around just under a different umbrella and by a different name,” Martin said. “But we are still growing, it’s a great place to work, particularly for technical resources. But we don’t fully understand how much they want to add here yet, but they are committed to Des Moines and growing a team here.”

Advice for future entrepreneurs?

For a company that may go through a similar process or entrepreneur who has been approached about an acquisition, Van Heukelom offered this piece of advice:

“Culture is key and strategic fit. Why are they interested in you? Because of technology and they just want that, or is it your team? And then, what do you want out of it? Some may just want an exit or help it moving forward.”

Martin says be prepared to ask questions, lots of questions.

“Because once it’s done, it’s irreversible,” Martin says. “It’s a very personal thing when you are talking about making a change like that, it involves a lot of people. There are a lot of lives involved so you don’t want to take it lightly.”