MiBiz presents the 8th Annual M&A Deals & Dealmakers Award to spotlight best practices and excellence related to mergers, acquisitions, capital formation and other types of deal making throughout Western Michigan. MiBiz recognizes ten categories for their Deal of the Year awards, and Calder Capital’s client, Foxbright, rose to the top of the Technology category!
Founded in 2002 by Paula Whisman and Catherine Ettinger, Foxbright is a software and web services company whose primary goal is to help schools improve and manage their websites.
Catherine Ettinger approached Max Friar of Calder Capital in mid-2019 with a desire to transition out of the company. Throughout the preceding years, Catherine had delegated most of her responsibilities and she felt it was time to move onto a different phase of life. Her business partner, Paula, agreed and desired to remain with the business and embraced the idea of transitioning herself to an employee role.
Calder put the business on the market confidentially and Hannah Lawrence, a young entrepreneur with a background in finance and technology, was immediately drawn to the opportunity.
“Personally, I was impressed with Hannah’s intelligence, drive, and accomplishments,” complimented Max Friar, Managing Partner at Calder Capital. It is not as often that business buyers are younger women and Hannah made a strong positive impression on me. From our perspective, she really put her head down and committed to the deal without looking back. We like it when buyers are fearless!”
Within 6 weeks of ownership, COVID shutdowns happened and, prioritizing safety first, Hannah had her employees work remotely. With a focus on work/life balance, flexible working arrangements, and a family first attitude, Hannah communicated with her team via weekly meetings to continue to try and build relationships and foster trust with them. This is no small task for a brand-new owner!
In addition to several reforms that Hannah made to Foxbright in her first year of ownership, including CRM improvements and redesigned marketing materials, Hannah facilitated the implementation of several systems to aid her clientele through the pandemic.
Foxbright developed the Floating Budget Badge that you see on Michigan school websites. These badges can have multiple uses and they became quite useful in communicating state required COVID information with easily viewed and direct links to COVID information. Foxbright also has built in tables which many schools have been able to utilize for their state required COVID reporting dashboards.
Communication in schools is one of the biggest needs right now. Foxbright has developed an app and is focused on informing schools of its communication features. The app can help staff and teacher’s communication directly with the community at large, specific groups/classes or even individual students and parents.
Additionally, Foxbright responded to many requests for an online chat feature so that staff in the district could reach out to their internal help desk while they adjusted to remote work by successfully building this feature.
“We are proud to have facilitated a strategic acquisition of Foxbright, and we’re very pleased that Hannah was awarded this well-deserved recognition!” commented Max. “Congratulations, Hannah!”