Search Funds

Search Fund Primer

For those contemplating pursuing a search fund, or investing in one, the CES has created a practical guide to answer the most frequently asked questions. The Primer aims to provide an unbiased view of the benefits and challenges, explains the model from the entrepreneurs' and investors' perspective, and gives many operational and execution tips from previous search fund entrepreneurs.

Search Fund Videos

Conceived in 1984, the search fund is an investment vehicle in which investors financially support an entrepreneur's efforts to locate, acquire, manage and grow a privately held company. The model offers relatively inexperienced professionals with limited capital resources a quick path to managing a company in which they have a meaningful ownership position.

Since 1996, the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies (CES) at Stanford Graduate School of Business has conducted a series of studies on the performance of search funds (see links below). The CES has identified and tracked over 177 search funds raised since 1984, many of which have purchased companies successfully in the United States and Canada. The growing cohort of international funds located throughout Western Europe, Latin America, and India are now tracked by our counterparts at the IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain. A 2013 CES analysis of 134 qualifying search funds found the aggregate pre-tax internal rate of return to be 34.9 percent, and the aggregate pre-tax return on invested capital to be 10.0x. For more information, please click on the link to "Search Funds Study 2013" below. Go to the Search Fund Study 2013.

Professor Irv Grousbeck, who helped conceive of the search fund and advises many of the entrepreneurs, expects that use of the search funds will continue to grow: "It's the most direct way I know for aspiring MBA entrepreneurs to get into business for themselves. And now that there are many experienced search-funders out there, those who have gone earlier are advising those who have come along more recently. Our objective is to have the search fund model grow, flourish, and be self-supporting, as one wave helps the wave behind it."

Center for Entrepreneurial Studies Search Fund Library Contents

IESE Search Fund Conference 2015

Search Fund - Best Practices for the Search Phase, by Louis Stern, November 2014

IESE - Search Funds - What has made them work?November 2014

IESE - International Search Funds - 2013: Selected Observations
Search Funds Death and the Afterlife, by Benjamin Kessler, Author & Professor Jim Ellis, Advisor, 2012 Academic Study
Document: Entrepreneur's Corner: Search Funds 101, by Maria Parad, MBA1
Document: Management Principals for MBA Search Fund/LBO Executives
Article: The Search Fund Model: How To Become A 28-Year-Old CEO, by Vanessa Loder, Forbes, August 2014
Article: Stanford's B-School Sensation: Plot A Takeover In Two Weeks, by George Anders, Forbes, October 2013
Article: Business-Buying Search Funds Gain Momentum, by Kyle Stock,, February 2013
Article: Seek and you will find, by Mike Southon, The Financial Times, May 22, 2011 (registration required)
Article: Finders, Keepers, by Thomas Zadvyas, The Deal Magazine, May 6, 2011
Article: Search Funds, A Financing Option for Business Buyers, by Gwen Moran, Entrepreneur Magazine, May 2011
Article: Business Opportunities Abound, Even in Bad Times, by Brent Bowers, The New York Times, February 2009
Article: Paying Entrepreneurs to Buy the Right Business, by Brent Bowers, The New York Times, March 2009
Article: An Alternative Source of Funding by Jonathan Moules, Financial Times, October 2009
Article: Looking for a Company To Run? Search Funds Could be the Answer in Knowlege@Whaton, March 2007
Article: Wanted: A Company to Call Their Own, by Meredith Alexander, Stanford Business magazine, August 2002
Article: You Gotta Have an Attitude, by H. Irving Grousbeck, Stanford Business magazine, March 1997

Search Fund Panel Transcriptions

Search Fund Panel November 2002 
Search Fund Panel May 1999 
Search Fund Panel April 1998 
Search Fund Panel Summary November 2004

Search Fund Panel Videos

Search Fund Panel Videos from GSB events and classes
Search Fund Conference 2008 (HBS site)


The Library Search Fund Information