Shara Mendelson

New York, NY

Understanding how your business will be valued and what you have to prove to attain the highest valuation will affect the way you manage your company both strategically and financially.”

Shara Mendelson founded Plum Benefits in 1998.  Under her leadership, Plum Benefits established relationships with 20,000 corporations, working with HR Departments to give over 5 million employees exclusive discount and access offers to live entertainment events, including Broadway shows, sporting events, attractions and family events. During her tenure, Plum Benefits put over 3 million butts in seats, providing a private distribution channel to move distressed inventory while protecting premium brands on behalf of its merchant partners. Shara grew the business organically through cash flow until the company’s sale in 2011 to The Shubert Organization, the parent company of Telecharge, and she currently serves as VP of the division there. Before founding the company, she began her career at Grey Advertising in Account services. Shara is a graduate of Middlebury College. She also serves on the board of The New Group, a non-profit theater company in New York City.

On M&A: "When I started my company, people would ask me, “What’s your exit strategy?” While I understood that selling the company was a goal for many businesses, I was so deeply passionate about Plum Benefits that - in my heart - I could not understand why anyone would ever want to step away from their baby. That mentality was naïve. I learned that, as in anything, it’s always best to be prepared. Understanding how your business will be valued and what you have to prove to attain the highest valuation will affect the way you manage your company both strategically and financially. It will also affect your relationships with partners - which, nurtured over time, may become potential acquirers. The organic creation of mutual interest between partners is far better than the last-minute development of lead lists when you do decide to sell or when the market becomes ripe for sale. Also, researching and learning about the sales process proactively will give you a framework for negotiations when the time comes. You can obtain feedback from entrepreneurs, lawyers, bankers and others who are willing to share mistakes and successes. Especially if it’s your first time being acquired, this information is invaluable, and it is better to have time to listen and digest. Simply stated, I wish I had known that the M&A process begins the day you start your company."


On selling her company: "Selling Plum Benefits has given me an opportunity to reflect on my experiences; analyze what inspired me to become an entrepreneur in the first place; assess what I have learned about building a company; and develop goals for the years to come. This process covers both my business and personal life and will positively impact my ability to succeed in my next endeavor and be exponentially productive for the rest of my life. Taking a “break” to develop a disciplined approach to the direction of ones energies may seem like a luxury to some, but I firmly believe that it is, in fact, a necessity.  After all, if we do not take the time to understand what makes us unique, how can we find our passions? And, without passion how can we succeed? So, don’t wait to sell your company to give yourself this gift. Be sure you are disciplined about stepping back and looking at the business as one step - albeit an important one - on a long and winding road."
Profile added September 17, 2011