$3m ARR is an interesting point. You’ve proven real product-market fit … but you aren’t really big enough from a revenue perspective to be impactful to a BigCo.
When BigCos are hunting for revenue to buy in SaaS, they usually are looking at start-ups past $10m-$20m ARR … because it takes $40m+ ARR usually to be impactful to a large company like Adobe, Salesforce, Microsoft, etc. Anything much smaller than that just gets smothered by Big Company processes.
$3m is also too much to be acquired for peanuts, and is irrelevant for an acqui-hire.
So you are at an odd time. Too big to be a dalliance, too small to be material.
Having said that, at $3m ARR, you do really have something, especially if you are growing at least 80%+ year-over-year.
The mistake you’ve made, as you allude to, is not building relationships.
I sold both my start-ups (FBOW). In both cases, it was due to corporate relationships that dated back almost to Day 1. And in the first case — it was a relationship with a direct, Us-or-Them competitor.
Those relationships may not amount to anything. The players change. VPs and SVPs come and go almost annually at Big Companies.
But you have to build those relationships. And drop by in person, at least a few times a year. And do the demos. And send the updates. And share stuff you aren’t even 100% sure you should share. So you are given them some G2 and intelligence into the market.
If you haven’t built those relationships, start now. They may take 2–4 years to bear fruit. I know you are impatient. But. It takes time.
More here: Acquisitions — If You Do Sell, Try to Make Sure It’s At a Local Maximum