Search Fund Conference

The reality is that certain MBAs want to be their own boss but do not have the skills, resources (read no student debt), or the desire to start their own company. Thus the advent of Search Funds. A Search Fund is a form of entrepreneurial private investment wherein recent graduates of elite business schools work to identify and acquire small businesses, with funding primarily provided by a network of alumni, specialized Search Fund investors, and high net worth individuals. Once the transaction is complete, the searchers transition from executing the transaction to being the CEOs of the business. Putting their MBA skill set to work, they then work to grow the company with the intent of realizing a return for the investors through the sale of the company. The search fund model was first pioneered in 1984 at Stanford GSB and since that time there have been over 140 Search Funds formed.

Booth is bringing together a star-studded line-up of investors, searchers, professors, and operators for the first annual Booth Search Fund Conference this Friday October 10th from 10:30 AM to 5:30 PM at the University Club. There are a dozen speakers and panelists in addition to over twenty investors slated to be in attendance. The conference is jointly organized by the search fund student organizations and Booth Search, a Polsky Center initiative that provides resources and mentorship to graduating students looking to launch a Search Fund. “Our search fund ecosystem at Booth continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  We’re incredibly excited about the conference and really looking forward to bringing together the curious, the bold, and the seasoned of the searcher community under the Chicago banner” says Alex Hodgkin, interim program director at Booth Search.

The conference is a chance to learn first-hand about the Search Fund model and to see if it is a viable career choice for students. The conference will feature Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance Professor Steven Kaplan, who has been instrumental in building alumni support and providing institutional momentum for Booth Search. He will lead a fireside chat with Paul Furlow of Dixon Midland company, regarded as one of the top performing Search Funds operators of all time. Kaplan compares the search fund concept to, "putting seeds in the right places and allowing things to grow naturally."

The conference will also feature panels outlining how Search Funds exist in the space of lower-market private equity and fundless sponsors, how to tackle the first 100 days after an acquisition, and how third parties can help navigate the acquisition process. “The experience and perspective that the panelists are going to provide throughout the conference is going to both professionally informative and personally inspiring–we’ve got an amazing group coming,says Dave Newberry, Search Fund Group Co-Chair.  

Students interested in learning more about Search Funds are encouraged to attend the conference. Contact the Search Fund Group for details.

Reid Tileston is Co-Chair of the Search Fund Group reid@chicagobooth.edu