Meet the Goworkers: Max & Misha

Max Oltersdorf and Misha Ponizil have been working together to run their new company Quiddity. They have known each other since 7th grade, kept in touch, and knew that they wanted to work together. They moved to NYC from San Diego to work full-time, going at it for the past four months. Check out their full story!

As Max put it, Quiddity works to “make the business-sale process suck less. When someone builds a good business and they want to sell it, we’re trying to be the go-to resource where they can go to get introduced to people who want to buy it, to get people in touch with investment bankers and other people who will help them sell it, and to provide them information and guides on what to actually do.”

Quiddity is short for liquidity and it also means the inherent nature or essence of something. We like that because each business has its own nature, essence, culture, and we thought that reflected how we personalize each transaction and make sure everyone gets exactly what they want.”

Before this, Max worked at a private equity firm and saw that many businesses didn’t have good options when it came to selling their business. “The folks they were interacting with were charging them high fees [and] not really providing them the value and the service they deserved, and so we thought we could do it better.” He thought that business owners should have the option to manage the selling process themselves instead of hiring a third-party to be their advisor or representative.

Misha added, “But in order for people to be able to do that for themselves, there’s a handful of barriers. The first one we’re focusing on is the introductions to people who might be interested. There’s a wide range of entities out there that want to buy small businesses, private equity being a small segment of that, but also private families that want to buy companies. There’s a thing we’re looking at now where entrepreneurs just want to run a company so they’ll go out and look for a company that’s available, and go out and try to raise the capital to acquire it because they don’t have it off the bat.

“So, being able to at least have a starting point for these business owners, find the people that might be interested, we thought at the very least we could help and provide that for free for people.”

While Max worked in private equity Misha, on the other hand, has been working in technical, product development, and engineering. “I’ve known I enjoy building things and making products and tools that solve problems for people. I knew I wanted to, at some point, try something myself but didn’t know exactly what that looked like. Fortunately, Max took the lead and found something he wanted to build and convinced me to come join in.” For Misha, Quiddity is an opportunity to build something from the ground up.

Max and Misha both like the idea that they’re providing value to a part of the population that historically has not had good options and enjoy building things for others to use.

The Struggle and The Freedom

Both have enjoyed the freedom that comes with being their own bosses.

“The struggle is fun. Knowing that it’s all on you. Knowing that when we show up everyday, no one’s saying ‘Hey, this is what you need to do today.’ It’s all very self-motivated. It’s all like ‘Okay, I know that I could go home and sleep for a week and literally nothing would get done and it’s kind of a cool feeling that if I don’t do it, it’s not going to get done.”

They also appreciate the flexibility and freedom when it comes to solving problems that come up. Misha likes that he can experiment without having to convince others to get on board with the idea. “I can be like ‘I have this idea. I’m going to try this, let’s see what happens. And that’s super refreshing.”

Max and Misha currently aim to get their first deal done by the end of the year. They want to prove the concept of their business and get some revenue short-term, and become the go-to place for people looking to sell their businesses long-term.

Following the Winds

Like any new business owners, Max and Misha find it challenging to manage expectations. “Things don’t move as quickly as you want them to, especially in a business like ours, where our primary role is an introductory person. People won’t respond or people will say one thing then do something else. It’s just a lot of managing people, managing expectations, and managing processes.

Another obstacle is having clarity over what they should prioritize. “Some things are really obvious like if we have a potential customer and they’re having an issue signing up. When it comes to creative marketing strategies, how do we get on more people’s radars? How do we get people to understand us as genuinely as possible and really get a genuine sense of what we’re all about and what our values are? That has been really challenging.

“We’ve done things with the way our website works, like the functionality of the website, the phrasing,… email outreach, and the way we describe ourselves in that form,” Misha elaborated.  “From the technical product side, I’ve found it personally challenging to try and translate what I can build that will map effectively to creating trust, credibility, and a sense of ‘These are people I want to work with’ because a lot of the early stages of what we’re doing mostly comes down to the relationships that we have with people. The technical platform is to set us up for the direction we’re going in and to help make things more efficient and then, on some fundamental level, create some credibility around what we’re doing.”

Despite the challenges, the two are staying positive. Max said, “You just have to be very self-motivated and willing to show up everyday, and keep pushing until something works. I think it really helps to be optimistic or have an optimistic vision of the future to do that. I think also taking the wins where you can get them. Take the small victories and make yourself feel good about them. Keep pushing.”

“At first I thought you said ‘winds’ like the breeze,” Misha responded. “which resonates for me because it kind of feels like we’re a ship meandering through the ocean and here and there. A gust of wind will start blowing in some direction and we won’t necessarily detect it immediately but then we’ll call out ‘Oh, this is flying us in this direction. Let’s go over here and see what’s going on.’”

For Misha, the ship analogy means being flexible and willing to try new things. It means being patient and not taking things too seriously. “It can be very challenging to be very results-oriented, to have a specific idea in mind…  get attached to that and in reality when you’re creating something new and you’re iterating on it constantly, you just have to enjoy the process and let it unfold versus try and control it all the way through.”

“The business that we’re working on is very interesting in that at this stage,” Max added. “All that matters is our first transaction and that’s the only way we make money based on our business model which we intentionally chose to do so it’s very high stakes, high reward. But it’ll be super fun.”

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