Signing out of account, Standby…
How success happened for Sam Riley, co-founder and CEO of global information governance platform Ansarada.
It’s an ugly statistic, but it’s reality: Nine out of ten companies don’t make it. Disruption in all its forms, whether technological, financial – or more recently, biohazardous – has made it critical that entrepreneurs and business leaders are resilient and can make fast decisions to survive in this landscape.
In this constantly evolving environment, the companies that thrive are those who are innovative, adaptable, and who never stop searching for ways to bring value to their customers.
One man has made it his mission to help millions of businesses raise, realize and protect their potential, and be ready for the most important outcomes in their lifecycle. With more than his share of laid-back Australian charm, Sam Riley is a passionate leader with a knack for great storytelling and a history of challenging the status quo.
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Since those early days of running his startup from an ice cream factory parking lot (listen to the podcast here), Sam has turned Ansarada into a multimillion-dollar global company with 150 employees around the world and annual revenue of 35 million. Ansarada has been frequently listed on Deloitte’s innovative Fast 50, and the company gives back 1% of all equity, time and product to the Adara Group to serve the less fortunate.
After a failed business venture left Sam at a low point, a new door opened in the form of an opportunity raised by his sister (and Ansarada co-founder) Rachel Riley, an accountant for KPMG at the time. Sam and the other founders, two accountants and a Russian software engineer (walked into a café, not a bar), to discuss the early software prototype for simplifying the due diligence process for M&A.
“The prevailing way to do due diligence back then was physical, and that wasn’t going to survive in the digital age,” says Sam. “We spoke to the people we knew to see if this was a problem worth solving – lawyers, bankers, advisors – and they all said it was a nightmare. As Jim Rohn once said, ‘You get paid for the value you bring to the marketplace.’ In the context of multimillion-dollar transactions, we could bring a lot more value.”
The early days of Ansarada were all about listening and responding to the customer, building up trust and confidence through R&D and small deals. After hearing from multiple parties that Q&A in due diligence was a huge pain point, the small team mapped out the Q&A feature.
“I was obsessed with the fundamentals and getting it right – speaking to future customers and diagnosing things so we could build the right features. Step by step, it was about validating every little piece,” says Sam.
The major catalyst for Ansarada came in the form of a high-profile transaction in Australia. A $6 billion dollar deal and very public media recapitalization was executed using Ansarada’s Data Room technology, bringing a flurry of new business in the following years. At this early stage, Sam was supporting this deal from his laptop in the car park of the ice cream factory.
Ansarada’s success stems from Sam’s unswerving attitude to solving problems and making life simpler for the customer.
“Diagnosing problems is in our DNA. We’re always thinking about how we can make things easier, reduce risk, make deals quicker,” says Sam. “Automation, collaboration, predictive technologies and more are here, and things won’t stay how they’ve always been. We exist to champion change and unlock value of all kinds for companies, investors and advisors alike.”
Related: If Your Company Is Not Customer-Obsessed, You’re Doing It Wrong
After accumulating a wealth of experience on tens of thousands of deals, Ansarada was still proactively anticipating and diagnosing the problems at hand. The reality was that most businesses failed to realize the value in their most important deals, and that deals were hugely distracting, stressful and expensive – up to 12 months and thousands of hours to prepare for and execute.
“We learned that deals are risky and time-consuming because the way these companies run their information day to day is not aligned with what investors want when they go through it with a magnifying glass in due diligence,” says Sam.
Ansarada shifted its attention to make it easier for companies as they are operating day to day, so that they can be confident and benefit now, not just when some big event occurs. They created a complete operating system for the C-suite, for total information governance.
Ansarada’s values are fitting: curiosity, care, courage and change. From the beginning, from asking endless customer questions as a founder, that philosophy has followed through. By listening and reacting, Ansarada today is proactively solving more problems than ever. The platform now includes operational functionality around critical activities like risk management, compliance management and board management. “We can simultaneously improve the way businesses operate today, then when they go to do an event like a cap raise or IPO, they pass due diligence with flying colors,” says Sam.
Another key area of focus is ESG, which ties in with the company’s values and mission for positive, sustainable business growth.
“Everyone wants to do ESG really well; they want to be a good corporate citizen and show that their company is acting in the best interest of the environment, of society. And we want to do both – grow the business and do good for the world,” says Sam.
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Using Ansarada’s platform, companies can quickly, easily and credibly demonstrate their ESG strengths to investors, customers, and to potential employees. More than ever, people want to work for a company that is purpose-driven.
“We’re obsessed with anything that helps companies improve the way they operate today, based on the pain they will feel down the line if they don’t,” says Sam. “The better businesses do, the better society and people do. We believe businesses should have a better chance of succeeding, and we exist to help them do it.”
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