Business Innovation Changes the Soundtrack of Society

Mar 18, 2021

March 6, 2021 a visionary individual, Lou Ottens, who literally helped create the mobile soundtrack to most adult lives for the better part of 30 years passed away at the age of 94.  If you don’t recognize the name Lou Ottens you are in the overwhelming majority.  Mr. Ottens, along with his product development team at Philips, created the cassette tape introducing it for the first time to the world at a Berlin trade show in 1963. Lou Ottens, inventor of the audio cassette tape, dies at 94 (   Pause a moment and think how this small, inexpensive device, which facilitated enhanced mobile music and audio transmissions via portable devices including the omnipresent Walkman of the 80’s & 90’s, Boomboxes which made stereophonic sound cheap and transportable, and in vehicles created opportunities to personalize music selection versus the radio and share content.  However, his forward thinking vision for music was not limited to product creation, but also included recognition that standardization of product was in the best interest of consumers and manufacturers, so rather than compete for market acceptance on product parameters around the world, he collaborated with Sony and other companies sharing technology to create a unified public offering.  If you are interested in learning more about Mr. Ottens and the history of the cassette tape the following documentary provides a good overview: CASSETTE: A Documentary Mixtape (

The COVID-19 pandemic experienced by the world during the last year has changed the song being played in many consumer and business environments as old processes and products have been enhanced through adaption to an unexpected set of market conditions.  A year ago, who would have predicted the percentage of business meetings, academic engagements, and social encounters that would occur through virtual tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams that were traditionally facilitated in person.  Similarly, who would have imagined that technology & fitness would merge through product offerings like Peloton that would allow people to stay motivated to achieve fitness goals in their own home.

IBA, as the oldest business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, traditionally represents three different types of people in the sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  Our most common client demographic is business owners who are selling to facilitate retirement after a successful, profitable career as an entrepreneur. Another common reason for hiring IBA to sell a business is a situation of company turbulence caused by partnership breakup, divorce, health issues, bankruptcy, or death.  However, the third group of entrepreneurs that commonly employs IBA to sell their companies frequently brings us into an invigorating environment for mergers & acquisitions intermediation. This group of clients are the innovators.  They are parties that have created new products and processes in their kitchens, garages, and through virtual engagement with colleagues online that have taken wing and are flying up and above competition in the marketplace by offering superior product quality and improved performance supported by modern systems and superior customer service.  These individuals frequently come to IBA to facilitate the sale of their business for three reasons.  The first reason is that they recognize they do not have the knowledge and skill set necessary to facilitate the business model achieving its potential in the marketplace.   The second reason is that they do not have the capital resources to facilitate growth to the next level of production, staff, and product distribution.   The third reason is that they enjoy creation more than management.  This last group includes a client that I have represented in business sales multiple times in the technology space.  Mohammed is a visionary entrepreneur.  However, knowing his management style he commonly recognizes that it is time to execute an exit strategy when his company evolves from a dedicated, small group of hard-working people working to achieve a common goal to one that needs full-time human resource staff.

Currently IBA is representing for sale a company that has elements of all three innovator motivations for sale. The company is an amazing entrepreneurial, success story that started with the creation of products and processes in the founder’s kitchen.  2019 company revenues of the business were under $2 million.  2020 found revenues more than doubling with increased brand awareness and enhanced manufacturing infrastructure.  Revenue is anticipated to fall in the $6 – 8 million range in 2021.  This unique acquisition opportunity in the consumer products space entered the market after their corporate tax return was filed on March 15, 2021.   Buyer candidates interested in signing a confidentiality agreement and demonstrating financial capability are encouraged to contact Gregory Kovsky at IBA at (425) 454-3052 or for additional information.

Vinyl records were introduced to the marketplace in 1931.  Cassettes started to compete with vinyl in the United States in 1966 featuring artists like Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, and Johnny Mathis.  The first album released on CD was Billy Joel’s 52nd Street on October 1, 1982.  The iTunes Store opened on April 28, 2003 with 200,000 songs reinventing the personal music space for the fourth time in less than 100 years.  The only given in life is change.  The profit and innovation opportunities found in the United States free market economy have created more products and services than any other national, economic garden in the history of the world.  Taking to heart what Casey Kasem famously said at the end of his weekly radio Top 40 countdown of the most popular songs in America, “Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars”, I encourage Pacific Northwest entrepreneurs to keep creating the businesses of tomorrow. The world would be dramatically different if a person in their favorite pair of Nikes couldn’t go to the airport, grab a Starbucks coffee for their flight on a Boeing airplane and settle into their seat prepared to watch a movie they purchased from Amazon on their Microsoft Surface.  The only question is what great entrepreneurial song will be created next in the region.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, accounting, legal, wealth advisory, and real estate communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.