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Chicago Booth - Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Series

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A podcast series featuring all things related to search funds and entrepreneurship through acquisition. Hosted by Brian O'Connor, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Managing Partner of NextGen Growth Partners.

A podcast series featuring all things related to search funds and entrepreneurship through acquisition. Hosted by Brian O'Connor, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Managing Partner of NextGen Growth Partners.
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A podcast series featuring all things related to search funds and entrepreneurship through acquisition. Hosted by Brian O'Connor, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business and Managing Partner of NextGen Growth Partners.






One Year In: Adjusting to the CEO Role

In this episode of the ETA podcast, Chicago Booth alum Dave Newberry reflects on why he ultimately chose to pursue an incubated search model and important lessons learned during his 24 month search. Now one year into his role as CEO of Condata Global, Dave discusses aspects of the transition that were different than expected, unforeseen challenges he’s faced in the first year leading a company, and the value of self-assessment.


The Partner Led Search – Complementary Skill Sets and Delineation of Roles

Chicago Booth alums Erick Laseca and Giovanni Barbat discuss their partnered search experience and the important characteristics of their team that led them to the acquisition of American Vision Group, a leading eyecare services platform. In addition to addressing the challenges of consolidating three disparate companies at time of acquisition, Erick and Giovanni discuss healthcare rollups and their strategic plan behind vertical integration.


Democratizing the Digital Supply Chain

Booth alum Nathan Dey, discusses how his investment banking experience led him to take the entrepreneurial leap and pursue ETA, eventually stepping into the CEO role of a 50 year old logistics company. In an industry undergoing a huge digital transformation, Nathan discusses how his company is building on its rich history, positioning themselves to be an innovative leader in the shipping and logistics space, and transforming into a tech-forward global supply chain software company.


Taking the Leap of Faith to Pursue ETA

Booth alum Gabe Barkley, CEO of MHW, reflects on his early entrepreneurial aspirations that led him from a post-college position at a wine shop to the role of CEO of a leading alcoholic beverage service platform. Gabe discusses why he decided to pursue an incubated search, and how he found MHW and formed a valuable partnership with the owner as the incoming CEO.


Transitioning from Military Leadership to Business Leadership

Booth alum Charles Mullenger, CEO of Ethos Evacuation Strategies d/b/a MedSled, discusses the correlations between leading a team in a military environment and leading in a corporate environment, and what aspects of his military background that have translated to the business. Charles also shares how his Midwestern roots played a role in this search, his advice for young CEOs, and important factors to keep in mind when looking for the right business.


Finding the Right Fit: Lessons Learned through a Partner Led Search

Chicago Booth alum Michael Curry, CEO of Krueger Gilbert Health Physics and Apex Physics Partners takes us through his entrepreneurial journey from bootstrapping a custom clothing company in the early 2000’s to a successful partner-led search. Now an operator in the health physics landscape, Michael reflects on the importance of servant leadership throughout his ETA journey.


Beyond the First 100 Days: Building a United Culture

Steve Swinney, CEO of Kodiak Building Partners, speaks to the importance of finding balance between the pace of acquisitions and maintaining an operational focus to build a great business – all while mastering the cyclicality of the construction industry. Additionally, Steve shares lessons learned on the importance of managing a united culture through his over 21 acquisitions.


Building a Practice to Service Entrepreneurs: The “Volume Game” of the Search

Chicago Booth alum Phil Colaco, global leader for the corporate finance advisory practice at Deloitte, draws parallels between Deloitte’s investment banking arm and the ETA search. Phil elaborates on strategies to maximize chances of success in a search, the importance of partners, and trends in lower-middle market acquisitions.


Growing an Investment Business

Ivan Zinn, founder and managing partner of Atalaya Capital Management, elaborates on the evolutionary changes in the credit industry as it relates to the launch and growth of Atalaya Capital, trends in the corporate credit landscape, and considers the intentional use of human capital as a means to drive impact and outcomes.


Technology in ETA: Acquiring and Running a Software-Driven Business

In this episode, David Rhodes, a technology consultant and active ETA investor, discusses how he advises search entrepreneurs when they have interest in a software-driven company. David emphasizes the importance of evaluating the product, process and team, and highlights some of the challenges and opportunities presented by SaaS.


Success as a Self-Funded Searcher: Benefits of Funding Your Own Deal

In this episode, Chicago Booth alum Darrin Shillair, president of Specialty Sales LLC, discusses his ETA journey and explains the benefits of pursuing a self-funded search and how he was able to acquire Specialty Sales a little over a year after beginning his search. Darrin explains how his search model provided him with a unique advantage in identifying smaller cap companies and being able to narrow his search to a specific geography.


ETA Alternatives: Management Buyout (MBO)

In this episode, our host Brian O'Connor is joined by Dan Kessler, partner at Cyprium Partners, and Ken Sander, former chairman and CEO of Kellermeyer Building Services. The pair work through the mechanics of a management buyout (MBO) and discuss how Cyprium Partners worked with Ken's team to facilitate the MBO of Kellermeyer Building Services.


Lessons Learned as a First-Time Operator

Mark Agnew, president and CEO of Lou Malnati’s and adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Chicago Booth, speaks about his journey with Lou Malnati’s and the lessons he’s learned as president and CEO of the company. Mark stresses the importance of making every experience a learning opportunity and developing a strong company culture. He attributes the success of Lou’s to the commitment of the people working at the company and their ability to innovate and lead from within.


Staying the Course: Insight into Growing your Business to a Successful Exit

Successful entrepreneur Rob Swanson, former founder and CEO of RAS & Associates, shares his experience founding a company, driving growth through sales and employee development, and ultimately exiting the business. As an operator, Rob’s insights into his sales and growth strategy for RAS & Associates serves those in the ETA community that have, or are looking to operate a business.


ETA Alternatives: Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP)

In this episode, Mary Josephs, founder and CEO of Verit Advisors, discusses employee stock ownership plans (ESOP) and their role in ETA. She provides listeners with an overview of ESOPs, how they work, and their role as a corporate finance alternative to acquiring a business.


Navigating Your Search: Lessons Learned Along the Way

Co-founders and Principals of Calyx Capital Partners, Trista Engel and Jessica Markowitz discuss their ETA journey and how they came together to form a search fund following their time at Chicago Booth School of Business. The pair reflect on their partnership and share insights into how they've been able to maintain both a professional and personal relationship throughout their search. Trista and Jessica speak about the ups and downs of their search and provide valuable advice for those...


ETA Alternatives: The Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC)

On this episode, Mike Wallach with Levy Family Partners discusses special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, and provides listeners with an in-depth look into how the investment vehicles are structured and can be used to carry out a transaction. Mike speaks about his experience with the Levy Acquisition Corp. and their ultimate acquisition of Del Taco in 2015.


Going Global: Launching a Search Fund in International Markets

Co-Founding Managing Directors of Relay Investments, Sandro Mina and Martin Steber, touch on a variety of topics including launching an international search, working with a partner, and managing your search budget. Sandro and Martin have over 45 years combined experience in search fund investing, participated in 100+ deals, and invested in 16 countries on 5 continents.


Invaluable Advice from a Veteran Search Fund Investor

This episode features Michael Miles, Co-Founder and Partner at the Operand Group, a fund that exclusively invests in search funds. A longtime search fund investor and operator, Michael shares his insights on forming a search fund, attracting investors, and closing a deal. He also goes through some do's and don'ts for budding entrepreneurs.


Building Out Your Team

Devin Matthews, Partner at ParkerGale Capital, discusses his firm's investment strategy and the significance of a portfolio company's management team. He highlights the importance of putting together the right team and the qualities he looks for in an operator when evaluating a potential investment.