Workplace Innovations · · 4 min read

Common Trust Raises $2.6 Million to Propel Small Business Transition to Employee Ownership

Common Trust, a platform specializing in employee ownership buyouts for small businesses, has announced securing $2.6 million in seed funding. The financing round was spearheaded by Crossbeam Venture Partners, with substantial contributions from Schmidt Futures and esteemed investors well-versed in

Common Trust Raises $2.6 Million to Propel Small Business Transition to Employee Ownership

Common Trust, a platform specializing in employee ownership buyouts for small businesses, has announced securing $2.6 million in seed funding.

The financing round was spearheaded by Crossbeam Venture Partners, with substantial contributions from Schmidt Futures and esteemed investors well-versed in this arena.

Common Trust’s primary mission is to empower small business proprietors to transition their enterprises to employee ownership seamlessly.

The platform is meticulously designed to assist selling owners and management in crafting personalized employee ownership trusts, procuring aligned capital to facilitate the buyout, and executing a successful transition.

Across the United States, there’s a burgeoning trend of business owners approaching retirement, with countless small businesses poised for a change of ownership in the coming decade.

About Common Trust

However, traditional exit strategies, such as private equity or private buyers, have left many owners increasingly disillusioned, as these routes often disregard the welfare of employees and the long-established culture and values of the company.

Astonishingly, 75% of these owners express regret over their sale within a year.

Employee ownership presents a compelling, legacy-aligned exit strategy for selling business owners.

Unfortunately, the cost and intricacies associated with traditional options have deterred many businesses from pursuing this route.

Here’s where Common Trust steps in, offering an alternative exit strategy that simplifies the transition to employee ownership.

The platform provides small- and mid-sized business owners with an accessible, attractive, and cost-effective exit solution using employee ownership trusts – a groundbreaking approach for businesses seeking to become employee-owned entities.

What is Employee Ownership Trusts?

Employee ownership trusts (EOTs) represent an innovative approach to business ownership and management. These trusts are designed to empower employees by granting them a significant stake in the company they work for, effectively making them co-owners.

In an EOT structure, employees collectively hold a substantial share of the company’s equity, often through a trust vehicle, which ensures their interests are aligned with the long-term success and sustainability of the business.

This model not only provides employees with a financial stake in the company’s performance but also fosters a sense of ownership, engagement, and commitment among the workforce.

Moreover, EOTs can serve as an effective succession planning and exit strategy for business owners looking to retire or sell their company while preserving its culture, values, and legacy.

The Transition Steps

Step 1:

Feasibility Assessment In the initial step, Common Trust collaborates with co-owners, family members, and key stakeholders to assess the feasibility of an exit strategy through a trust.

This evaluation ensures that the trust exit aligns with the client’s objectives and is financially viable.

Step 2:

Exit Strategy Development Common Trust takes an active role in constructing, legally formalizing, and refining the business exit trust.

During this phase, the focus is on safeguarding the client’s operating principles and ensuring their preservation over the long term.

Step 3:

Tailored Financing The third step involves the creation of a personalized financing package, designed to secure the necessary capital for the conversion.

Common Trust seeks out affordable and aligned financial resources to support the client’s transition.

Step 4:

Transition Support Common Trust continues to work closely with the client and their team, offering guidance and resources to prepare the next generation for effective management, leadership, and stewardship of the company’s growth in the years to come.


“For many founders preparing to retire, exiting through employee ownership offers a pathway to receive fair compensation while also ensuring that their people and community will continue to reap the benefits of the company’s growth, long after the sale.” – Zoe Schlag, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Common Trust



“With 40% of small business owners in the U.S. on the verge of retirement, three in five small businesses will seek a sale over the next decade, and only a small fraction of them are likely to be absorbed by buyers.

Common Trust’s unique, employee-centric exit strategy is transforming the space and creating positive social impact by providing small business owners an inclusive and mission-driven exit solution.” Ryan Morgan, Partner at Crossbeam


About Common Trust

Common Trust is a platform dedicated to employee ownership buyouts, providing small business owners with the means to access liquidity by facilitating their exit to their employees.

They work closely with selling owners, management teams, and investors, offering invaluable assistance in the design, financing, and execution of employee ownership buyout strategies.

Founded in 2022, Common Trust’s inception drew from the shared ownership expertise of its co-founders, Zoe Schlag and Derek Razo.

Their backgrounds in the shared ownership space at Schmidt Futures and Purpose Foundation, respectively, laid the foundation for this remarkable venture.

Schmidt Futures, an initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, and Purpose Foundation, a leading think tank championing alternative ownership and financing structures to preserve mission and cultivate community wealth, played pivotal roles in shaping the vision of Common Trust.

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