Konstantinos Ligris’ exit from Ligris Companies is not part of a traditional sale or IPO, but it’s the one that was right for the company’s future.
On May 20, Ligris, MBA ’18, announced he was stepping aside as CEO and managing partner at the real estate law firm he started in 2005. He will now focus on property technology startups and is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.
“I knew that after having been exposed to the innovation ecosystem at MIT and Kendall Square, that this was my time to pursue opportunities and I just wouldn’t feel challenged enough in my current role,” said Ligris, who will stay on as a board member and adviser.
In leaving, Ligris put into place a carefully crafted succession plan with partners and the management team. Here’s what he learned.
How did you decide on your exit approach?
My exit is one based on a succession plan to the partners and management team that have been part of this amazing journey. The fact that they had been such an integral part in building the companies, our culture, and our principles, makes this bittersweet exit feel like the right thing to do. It shows our people that we support organic growth and we “walk that walk.”
How did you know it was time to exit?
I knew that I wanted to make a much larger impact — to the industry as a whole and not just within our organizations. I worry that too many ideas and teams don’t have a subject matter expert on the team, leaving me with a sense of urgency that the time is right for me to put my contacts, experiences, and knowledge to use in shaping what the future of real estate looks like.
What was the hardest part of the process?
I love my clients and customers. Their problems are my problems. Service businesses are a different animal; they are very relationship driven. Some of my closest friends have either been or started off as clients. Letting go when you have spent 15 years building a brand with your name is not easy. I take great pride however that I have played a role in creating opportunities for truly talented coworkers that continue to impress me, but more importantly our clients. Regardless, it is hard to give up control of your brand regardless of how remarkable the succession team is.
What is your most important piece of advice for entrepreneurs approaching an exit?
Money can be a factor, but never let it be the factor. If you care about what you have built, who you have coached, and your customers, then you should really care about who is taking over. Your legacy will be shaped by these decisions, especially if you are a serial entrepreneur. These decisions will have a lasting impact on your future opportunities. In every decision you make, ask yourself how it affects your stakeholders. It is always about people and team because nobody has changed the world alone.
Are you an MIT Sloan alum with an exit strategy to share? firstname.lastname@example.org