Luc Pettett used the capital from selling his business to improve his work-life balance, study with leading artificial intelligence (AI) researchers and break into the financial sphere.

With a story like that, you’d think Pettett made his exit with plans set in stone. But Pettett says, “The truth is – actually – I didn’t have a clear picture as to what I wanted to do next.”

Read on to learn how Pettett patiently explored his options before springboarding his next venture.

Luc Pettett’s exit

Nine years before his exit, Luc Pettett started his business Punters from scratch with a small team, Pettett among them as a software developer. In time, Punters grew into Australia’s largest horse racing website. Corum Group helped Pettett sell his company to News Corp Australia in 2016, and he stayed with them until 2018 to ensure a smooth integration.

After that, Pettett took time off and traveled. He says, “It was probably the best six months of my life, I think – spending quality time with my kids and traveling the Caribbean and Tahiti and so on.”

Pettett’s favorite memory from his travels was spending time in Tahiti, “I think we had about 10 acres to ourselves in an Airbnb. We had to take a little fishing boat across to the other island to get our groceries for the week. So, a lot of fond memories of my young kids sleeping in hammocks, just laying by the beach.”

But while traveling, Pettett studied and spent time thinking about what he wanted to do next. On this trip, he says, “I was still on the laptop, still enjoying learning. And it wasn’t ‘tools down,’ so I think it was just about the right balance.”

Studying artificial intelligence

When deciding his next move, Pettett kept in mind advice he’d received, which was, “Don’t hurry. Take your time. Be patient. Too many founders rush into the next thing.”

Rather than formal study or obtaining an MBA, Pettett chose to learn directly from a professor in a field that excited him – artificial intelligence. This was around 2019, before large language models like OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s LaMDA transformed the tech industry.

“I’d just fly down and spend a day with this professor learning about the fundamentals of modeling or predictive modeling. And that was wonderful – just taking my time to experiment.”

Entering the finance space

Along with advancing his software development skills through studying artificial intelligence, Pettett resolved to improve his financial prowess.

“I think for anyone moving out of their first exit and coming into a lot of capital, you do need to know how to deploy that capital,” says Pettett. “And to me, I was like, well, it would be sensible to spend my time in finance, so I know better those skills as an investor – but also build a business around that.”

From there, Pettett founded his next business, Dabble, which offered a tool for organizing and sharing investment ideas. But after six months of operating Dabble, a wagering company acquired the assets – due to Dabble’s name.

Pettett says, “It was quite a weird clash of worlds. And we sold that business after about a year, so that I guess that’s not really my second exit, but – in a kind of weird way – it is.”

Founding Telescope

After that unexpected sidestep, Pettett founded an AI platform that integrates with stock brokerage apps. Pettett explains his company, Telescope, like this:

If you’re trying to discover stocks, and you’re interested in investing, at the moment, people have to browse the internet and read a Motley Fool article or a Bloomberg article to understand a theme that they acquired the assets for their interested in.

So, my new business telescope allows you to just simply put in a prompt. For example, space tourism or hydrogen vehicles or any theme you want or any concept you want…

It uses AI and language models to build and construct an investment portfolio surrounding that theme, but it ultimately uses second and third order thinking to help construct an investment portfolio.

So, the idea is, it’s a fun, easy way to filter stocks, so it’s hyper personalized.

To compliment Telescope’s enterprise platform, Pettett and his team also built a consumer platform for AI-assisted investment portfolio creation, cheerily dubbing the company “Potato.”

Advice to tech CEOs

Pettett describes the M&A process as “wonderful,” and he encourages other CEOs to open themselves to the idea of exiting their businesses:

I think most people just have this reluctance and reservation around an exit. I had that feeling, but ultimately, what really matters is the facts – and is the timing right to exit your business?

…I think everyone needs to be comfortable with diving in the deep end and going through an M&A process at some point. And I’ve heard a lot of war stories of people missing that opportunity.

And it’d be very difficult to go through that – to miss the chance to run an exit.

So, I think you just need to be honest with yourself as to whether the timing’s right.

Pettett says his biggest takeaway from the M&A process is not to worry about what’s next. He says, “The capital gives you a lot of opportunity to pursue many interests, and that can be education or founding a new business immediately. But there’s plenty of time.”

Take the next step

We at Corum Group are excited to see what’s next for Pettett and his new business Telescope.

And if Luc’s advice convinced you to exit your business, or you’re simply wondering about your business’s value in today’s market, contact us for a no-obligation company assessment. Our experts are former CEOs like you who have been through the M&A process to sell their own businesses. They’ll help you make the right choices with the most important transaction of your life.