This Black entrepreneur sold his software company for $1.2 billion

Abu Mubarik February 06, 2023
Shegun Otulana. Photo credit: Comebacktown

Shegun Otulana is a Birmingham-based entrepreneur with a great ambition to transform the city into an entrepreneurial hub. Growing up, Otulana has always been ambitious and entrepreneurial. His vision is to build great things and work with large teams.

This led him to start TheraNest, a software solution for mental and behavioral health providers in 2013. He recently sold Therapy Brands, TheraNest’s parent company, for $1.2 billion, according to ComebackTown. He reinvested the profit to create Harmony Venture Labs (HVL), which is focused on creating other companies, particularly B2B SaaS (software as a service) products. 

HVL has subsidiaries like HVL Acquisition, which buys existing profitable startups from founders who want an exit; HVL Studio, which creates high-growth startups from internally generated ideas; and HVL Consulting, which “consult with other startups to help them create solutions around marketing, sales, growth, and organizational excellence.”

According to Otulana, his businesses are already generating millions in annual revenue. “HVL is about two years into its journey, and we’re happy with the pace of achieving goals,” he told ComebackTown.

“As an investor, looking at the Birmingham ecosystem and thinking about how I love to build things, I see a future where I want to create multiple startups and help build the technology ecosystem here,” he said. “Birmingham has challenges to building high-growth companies…I feel me and my team can overcome these obstacles and turn these problems into an advantage,” he continued.

HVL will support and grow 40 companies in Birmingham with an aggregate value in the billions of dollars. Otulana said he chose to invest in Birmingham because that is where he is from. However, he is also of Nigerian heritage. He first came to Birmingham in 1998 from Lagos, Nigeria. He studied at UAB, where he obtained a degree in engineering and management information systems.

Instead of working for others or the government, he decided to become his own boss. He launched Zertis, a computer software company before starting TheraNest.

Otulana said his goal is to build multi-billion-dollar HVL-affiliated companies in Birmingham in the next 10 years.

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