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  • Writer's pictureGail Montgomery

River Guides of Business: Zane Tarence, Partner and Managing Director of Founders Advisors

(You can also view us on Spotify or listen to it on Apple Podcasts. )

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Zane Tarence, a partner at Founders Advisors, an investment banking firm based in Birmingham, Alabama.

Zane shared invaluable insights on entrepreneurship, investment banking, and the evolving business landscape.

Zane's passion for helping founders has a long and interesting history, which makes Founder's Advisors uniquely positioned to help entrepreneurs when they are ready to sell!

Here are three main topics we discussed that will resonate with business leaders and entrepreneurs alike:

1. Building Value for Founders: The Journey from Idea to Liquidity

Zane Tarence's journey into investment banking is unconventional yet deeply inspiring. Originally a software engineer at IBM, Zane's entrepreneurial path began when IBM funded his startup. His firsthand experience of building and selling a company led him to his true calling—guiding other entrepreneurs through the complexities of creating and realizing business value.

At Founders Advisors, Zane and his team specialize in helping founders navigate their business journey. Whether it’s securing capital, managing debt, or planning an exit strategy, their focus is on maximizing enterprise value. Zane describes his role as a "river guide for entrepreneurs," helping them take some chips off the table or "meat off the bone," as he puts it. This metaphor beautifully captures the essence of his mission: to ensure entrepreneurs achieve successful liquidity events, reflecting the value they’ve built.

2. Current Challenges: Interest Rates and AI Disruption (Truly fascinating!)

In today's business environment, Zane identifies two significant headwinds: rising interest rates and the disruptive potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

Interest Rates: Higher interest rates have a direct impact on business valuations. When rates rise, the cost of borrowing increases, which in turn reduces the leverage buyers can use. This decrease in leverage often results in lower business valuations, discouraging entrepreneurs who remember their businesses trading at higher multiples. Makes sense!

AI Disruption: While AI presents tremendous opportunities, it also introduces uncertainty, particularly in traditional and technical industries. Zane emphasizes that AI's potential to disrupt existing business models can make some companies less attractive to buyers until the technology’s impact becomes clearer. However, he also sees AI as a tool that, when combined with human creativity and system thinking, can create substantial value. That's what we've been saying all along!

3. The Importance of People and Relationships in Business

YES! And...Zane is a firm believer in the power of exceptional people to create exceptional results. He advocates for investing in A players—those who are intellectually curious, continually learning, and capable of significant impact. His approach underscores the importance of emotional intelligence, relationship-building, and authentic communication in achieving business success.

System Thinking and Communication: Zane highlights the value of being a system thinker, someone who can understand and navigate complex systems, whether they are organizational, technical, or relational. He also stresses the importance of being a memorable communicator—someone who can captivate an audience and convey ideas effectively. This skill, according to Zane, is timeless and crucial for leadership.

Investing in People: For Zane, investing in people means more than just hiring talent; it involves nurturing their growth, understanding their personal and professional needs, and fostering a culture of continuous learning. He encourages leaders to know their team members' love languages and support them in both their professional and personal lives. Now, THAT we can get behind!


Zane's insights provide a roadmap for entrepreneurs and business leaders looking to build, sustain, and realize the value of their companies. His journey from a software engineer to a trusted investment banker underscores the importance of adaptability, learning, and authentic leadership. Which, by the way, represents all we stand for at ExperienceYes!

By focusing on people, navigating current challenges with strategic foresight, and leveraging emerging technologies like AI, entrepreneurs can create lasting value and achieve their business goals.


Founders Advisors is a transaction advisory firm serving private companies. Their focus spans a variety of industries, including Business Services, Consumer, Healthcare, Industrials and Technology. Through their team of dedicated professionals, they utilize proven expertise and process-based solutions to produce exceptional outcomes for their clients. They work to form authentic relationships with their clients to understand their specific goals and design a solution to achieve the results they desire.


ExperienceYes is a learning and development company focused on turning soft skills into hard results with its Business Relationship and Leadership IQ programs, innovation, and mind-blowing keynotes. Contact us if you want to know more!

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