From Startup to Acquisition: Max Yoder's Journey with High Alpha Studio

Max Yoder, former Co-Founder and CEO of Lessonly, shares his experience building, scaling, and exiting the company with High Alpha Studio.

Article by
Muhammad Yasin

Max Yoder, Co-Founder and former CEO of Lessonly, shares his experience building and scaling the company with High Alpha Studio. 

Yoder chats about the value of having experienced mentors during the entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing how their wisdom complemented his time and effort. He also discusses the critical role the High Alpha Partners played in preparing him for potential challenges and making informed decisions, particularly during the acquisition of Lessonly by Seismic.


My name is Max Yoder. For 10 years I was the CEO of Lessonly, I was also a Co- Founder.

Lessonly makes training software. Nine years into the journey we were acquired by a company named Seismic, which now runs Lessonly. We built Lessonly very specifically to focus on these frontline teams who have constant change and need a way to communicate through it. Working with Scott, Mike, Kristian and Eric very closely from the start of Lessonly was very intriguing to me because they could see around corners that I didn't even know were coming, because they had experience with the entrepreneurial journey. So I was full of time and they were full of wisdom and put those two things together, we'd get a lot done. It was really nice to be able to do something and have somebody tell me, "Hey, about a year from now, there might be certain things you're going to need to consider." So then when those things came down the road, I was like, " Oh, I kind of knew this was happening." That pays off in big ways because I could be calmer when the next stage of the journey came, because I was prepared for it.

My experience with High Alpha was at every step of the journey, if I had a pain point, if I had a challenge, even if I had a celebration, I had people to go talk to, and that is what I think makes a great team. We can be there for one another when things are tough, and we can celebrate together when things are working. We know how hard it was to get there, and I had that experience with High Alpha again and again and again from the day the business started to the day that we were acquired. It's neat to think that at the beginning, High Alpha is so helpful to the business. And then at the end, this critical moment when we're transacting Lessonly with Seismic, to have people in our corner at that time was very important. Those are moments where very specific details, if we don't get them right early, they can really set the deal on a course that is not so great. And if we get them right early, we set some good precedent early, we set some good expectations early, everything else can be smoother. They were right there with me lockstep with guidance that I knew was good for the business. When we got through that experience of selling the business, there were so many pivotal moments where if I couldn't pick up the phone in the middle of the night and get on the phone with Scott or Mike, Connor—my business partner—and I may have made different decisions that we would've regretted. Just not something you get to do twice in a lot of cases, right? Sell a business, if you get to do it even once you're lucky. So to have people around who have done it many times makes a big difference, and I'd recommend it.

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