How it Works
Search Fund Accelerator places process and learning at the center of the search process. Through data-driven experimentation, we are constantly reevaluating what works and what doesn’t. Each of our searchers benefits from SFA’s continuously growing body of knowledge after they join their cohort. We work closely with each searcher to build a strong pipeline of high-quality deals. We focus on individual mentoring, coaching and advising so each searcher homes in on their best deal and efficiently navigates the transaction process to a successful close. By working closely together during the search and deal processes, we build trusting relationships that prove highly valuable when our searchers become CEOs. Here is how it works:
1. Accelerate Your Learning
Three intense weeks to learn and launch your search, while creating close relationships with the members of your cohort and the SFA team.
Learn to Search
The SFA experience starts with an intense 3-week Bootcamp during which the SFA team teaches you everything you need to know about our proprietary techniques, best practices and technologies. This will enable you to rapidly build your outreach engine and quickly connect with company owners.
Launch Your Search
SFA Bootcamp is not an academic exercise. Everything you learn is immediately put to use. By the end of Bootcamp, your search will be up and running. By your fourth week at SFA, you will start working with your full-time analyst who will play a key role on your team going forward.
During Bootcamp, you will get to know the other members of your cohort, the preceding cohort and the SFA team even better than you would imagine. These bonds will grow and prove invaluable during your search and in the years that follow as a CEO. The human aspect of SFA is hugely important, something that quickly becomes evident once you’re on board.
2. Build Your Outreach
TAILOR YOUR OUTREACH. OPTIMIZE YOUR PROCESS.
Targeted, well-managed, and well-executed outreach is the key to search success. This requires mastering a complicated process: efficiently identifying companies in select industry niches and intelligently reaching out to owners. SFA has built up formidable experience, knowledge, and IP from over 30,000 hours of search experience (and counting) that, along with constant experimentation, give our searchers a clear advantage.
Build and Manage Your Team
SFA searchers manage their search and their team: a full-time analyst and a dedicated group of interns. We recruit top-notch analysts and interns from large pools of applicants. After searchers select their team, we provide them with an extensive training program to bring them up to speed. We are very proud of the prestigious jobs our analysts and interns have taken after learning and growing at SFA.
3. Think like an Investor
Engage with Thought Partners
While informal interactions occur every day, each searcher has a weekly “check-in” with the SFA team to discuss industry niches, the search process and deals. While we won’t tell you what to do or where to focus, we will ask you questions and push you to evaluate opportunities critically and objectively.
Think like an investor
Thinking like a dispassionate investor does not come naturally. It is learned. It requires significant discipline, practice and patience. SFA coaches its searchers by helping them evaluate opportunities thoughtfully and efficiently. Our mantra is "fail fast and move on." There is no point languishing on deals that don’t meet your standards when time could be better spent on more promising opportunities.
"Trust The Process"
Our searchers adopted this phrase, which captures the robustness of SFA’s processes: if you follow the playbook and work diligently, you will find a great company. You will also find one that uniquely fits your personality, experience and interests. Confidence in SFA’s process should help you avoid any anxiety and pressure to “do a deal.”
4. Close Your Deal
Managing the Transaction & Closing
Transactions are fraught with complications. The SFA team works with our searchers to conduct thorough due diligence, negotiate appropriate terms, and create a solid plan for managing and growing their business. We pay particular attention to helping the searcher prepare for the transition to CEO to make it as seamless as possible. We also help our entrepreneurs manage the inevitable rollercoaster of emotions they experience as closing nears.
work with outstanding deal Partners
SFA searchers work with outstanding partners throughout the transaction process. We pride ourselves on our close relationships with firms that provide legal, accounting, IT, HR, and risk management due diligence services. SFA has also built valuable relationships with experienced banking partners, giving our searchers (and their sellers) the confidence that their transaction will be fully financed.
Keep the Engine Running
SFA works with its searchers to ensure that their outreach continues while due diligence on a specific opportunity is underway. Having other interesting opportunities to pursue gives our searchers the confidence to walk away from a deal if need be.
5. Transition to CEO
Congrats – You’re at the Starting Line
Closing your deal is a momentous and important step in your journey. You are finally a CEO. But the transition will be harder than you imagine. The first months are overwhelming as you simultaneously handle administrative details, adapt accounting systems, tackle HR issues and work through a slew of mundane but important tasks. At the same time, you will be taking the reins from the previous owner, managing operations and overseeing sales as you start leading the company. It’s the moment you will have been waiting for during months of searching, but the real work begins now.
Managing the transition
SFA works closely with our searchers during the due diligence and closing phases so they are prepared to step in as CEO on day one. Since we know the challenges they will face, we spend extra time preparing our searchers for a smooth transition in advance. The SFA team and our diligence partners help our searchers tackle the more technical and administrative aspects of the post-acquisition rush so they can focus on managing the business. We also have weekly check-ins, monthly mini-board meetings, and ad hoc calls and visits after close. Getting off to a strong start is crucial!
6. Manage Your Business
GROW THE BUSINESS
SFA’s CEOs focus on growing their businesses. In particular, they lead efforts to drive sales and intelligently allocate resources to build their organizations. The SFA team works closely with our CEOs as advisors, board members and thought partners. By leveraging the mutual trust created by working side-by-side throughout the search and deal process, we capitalize a strong mutual understanding post-acquisition. Since the SFA team has “lived the deal” with the searcher, we have a strong working knowledge of the company allowing us to provide effective advice.
SFA selects its entrepreneurs because of their ability to be great CEOs but we recognize that successful CEOs need an engaged board of directors. While our searcher’s Boards are initially compromised of members of the SFA team, we help our CEOs find independent directors overtime. Other CEOs from a searcher’s cohort also attend board meetings as shareholders (thanks to the Common Fund) and trusted advisors. Board meetings predominantly focus on the future: how to grow the business, how to allocate capital and how to invest in the organization.
7. Capture Value
SFA’s CEOs want to create personal wealth. While every CEO charts a different course in the early years of operating their business, our CEOs and their Board can elect to return capital to investors through leveraged recapitalizations. Since our CEOs are shareholders, they receive their fair share of the distributions. It is an excellent way for our CEOs to generate wealth while alleviating pressure to sell the company prematurely in order to return capital.
At some point, it will make sense to sell the business. We help our CEOs think through potential exit options and plot a way forward. We help them extract the maximum value for their years of hard work. Given SFA’s strong alignment with our CEOs’ incentives, we are in a strong position to ensure an outstanding outcome for everyone.