CEO Series Ep.2: Adam Ilowite and Michael Upex – Ep.160

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This episode is the second in our CEO series with early career search CEOs in their companies. Today I’m joined by Adam Ilowite and Michael Upex, CEO and President of Axero Solutions, respectively. Axero is a digital workspace platform for internal communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing that was acquired by Adam and Michael in July 2021.

We discuss the timing of making changes in the business, creating a budget from scratch, talent planning, and managing an incredibly steep learning curve, among various other operations topics.

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Axero Solutions

Michael on LinkedIn

Adam on LinkedIn

Frank Slootman on Invest Like the Best


(4:47) – What was your experience Searching and how were the first few months after the acquisition?

(7:14) – Were there any skills from your careers in Consulting or Investment Banking that played a role in your Search?

(8:55) – What advice did you get from investors or peers on how to handle your first year within the business?

(11:04) – Was there any challenge or learning curve that stands out from that first year?

(16:52) – How did you go about learning ideal process implementation?

(22:52) – What lessons on change management have you learned?

(23:51) – How has your mindset changed as you navigate your second year of ownership?

(26:51) – What are your top 3 priorities?

(28:07) – What’s your philosophy for putting together budgets and hiring plans?

(29:44) – How do you decide on edge-case expenses when you’re structuring a budget?

(31:49) – How did you think about what positions were needed when creating your hiring plan?

(34:38) – What are some common errors or omissions you’ve seen in budgets that you try to avoid?

(36:05) – What are your thoughts on filtering advice and who you should be listening to?

(38:18) – How does industry factor into the types of people you reach out to for advice?

(40:10) – Have you found value in going to industry conferences or trade publications?

(42:28) – What excites you the most about running this business in 2023?

(45:05) – What strongly held belief have you changed your mind on?

(48:33) – Are there any entrepreneurs or CEOs that you study and admire?

(49:49) – What’s the best business you’ve ever seen?

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Oberle Risk Strategies– Oberle is the leading specialty insurance brokerage catering to search funds and the broader ETA community, providing complimentary due diligence assessments of the target company’s commercial insurance and employee benefits programs. Over the past decade, August Felker and his team have engaged with hundreds of searchers to provide due diligence and ultimately place the most competitive insurance program at closing. Given August’s experience as a searcher himself, he and his team understand all that goes into buying a business and pride themselves on making the insurance portion of closing seamless and hassle-free.

If you are under LOI, please reach out to August to learn more about how Oberle can help with insurance due diligence at Or reach out to August directly at [email protected].

Oakbourne Advisors– Oakbourne is an independent retirement plan consulting firm that helps small companies design and implement great retirement plans for their teams.  Whether you already have a 401(k) in place or are looking to start one for your team, please reach out to learn more about how Oakbourne can set your people up for success in retirement at

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