Search Fund Center

2nd International Search Funds Conference

3rd International Search Fund Conference

Barcelona, October 4-5, 2018

Search Funds

Search funds are a niche asset class that have historically been focused on the US market. These investment vehicles enable high potential and entrepreneurially spirited individuals or partnerships to locate, acquire, manage and grow a privately held company. For many prospective entrepreneurs search funds offer a rare opportunity: The possibility of becoming an equity owning manager of a business early in their career.

IESE Search Fund Center is committed to supporting entrepreneurs and investors from around the world who are engaged in search funds. Through our research, events, and network, we try to understand the specific challenges of search funds and provide resources to help entrepreneurs and investors make their decisions and successfully engage in this form of entrepreneurship.

In 2011, IESE agreed with the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) to identify and track international search funds. The first note “International Search Funds - 2011: Selected Observations” was published by IESE in 2013. IESE plans to update it bi-annually in concert with Stanford’s note on search funds in North America and with recent data from international search funds as the number of search funds outside North America increases.

IESE’s MBA curriculum offers an intensive course focused specifically on search funds. IESE was the first business school outside North America to have such a course.

Since 2008, IESE has hosted an annual Search Fund Conference with the aim of bringing together the search fund community to discuss issues and opportunities that individuals and the community face and further explain the general model to MBA students and potential investors.


VIDEO - Search Funds: Is the Time Right to Go Global?
IESE, April 24, 2015: A video explaining why the search fund model is now taking off worldwide after achieving success in North America - Bill Egan, Rob Johnson, Jane Kaggwa, Jonathan Moules, Jose Stella, Simon Webster

VIDEO - The Search Fund Model
IESE, April 24, 2015: Learn more about the way search funds have developed and then hear from the people who are tracking search funds around the world about the results of these searches - Sara Rosenthal, Lenka Kolarova, Sandro Mina, Jürgen Rilling, Jonathan Moules.

VIDEO - What has Made the Search Fund Model Successful? 
IESE, April 24, 2015: Hear investor and searcher insights about the key factors that have contributed to successful funded searches - Coley Andrews, Will Thorndike, Bill Egan, Rob Johnson

VIDEO - Now I am a CEO... What Do I Do? 
IESE, April 24, 2015: Find out how investors as well as searchers have contributed to the search process and to the success of acquired companies - Ritz Steytler, Alexander Kirn, Mario Sicilia, Jose Stella, Simon Webster


IESE - International Search Funds - 2013: Selected Observations
IESE - International Search Funds - 2011: Selected Observations
This note is a biannual study completed by IESE Business School on search funds that were formed outside the United States and Canada. It was undertaken in partnership with Stanford Graduate School of Business.

IESE - Search Funds - What has made them work?
This note highlights the key success factors of search funds, an entrepreneurial acquisition model that has been successful in the United States and Canada for more than 30 years and is now growing in popularity in Europe and other parts of the world.

IESE - The First 10 Questions for Would-be Searchers
This note answers ten of the most common questions asked by people who are relatively new to the Search Fund model, or have never heard of a Search Fund before. The content of this note is based on the experience of Search Funds from around the world, and will help prospective entrepreneurs become familiar with the Search Fund model and the important questions that should be answered before considering the model more seriously.

IESE - Considerations for Entrepreneurial Acquisitions
This note synthesizes interviews with entrepreneurial acquirers and financiers from across the globe. The discussion and recommendations that follow reflect the varied experiences of practitioners of Entrepreneurial Acquisitions. Also it attempts to summarize the considerations any would-be entrepreneur should address as they embark on the journey of acquiring an entrepreneurial opportunity.

VIDEO - IESE Introductory Session on Search Funds
IESE, October 20, 2014: Simon Webster, Rob Johnson, Marc Bartomeus

E-conferences: Search Funds
IESE, November 18, 2013: Rob Johnson, Sandro Mina, Simon Webster

E-conferences: An innovative entrepreneurial acquisition model: the Search Fund
IESE, February 11, 2013: Marc Bartomeus, Pep Casas, Rob Johnson, Will Thorndike, Simon Webster

VIDEO - Global Entrepreneurship Week: Simon Webster, Mark Egan
A video introducing Search Funds and the Search Fund experience.


Stanford Search Fund Primer
For those contemplating the pursuit of a search fund, 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.

Stanford Search Fund Page (including historical studies)
Stanford’s Search Fund Page provides links to their Search Fund Primer and Search Fund Studies.

VIDEO - Search Fund Videos from Stanford GSB
A series of videos from classes and panels focused on Search Funds.

What it Takes to be a Search Fund Entrepreneur
The search fund model explained by experienced investor Coley Andrews.


Search Fund Guide to Internships
The purpose of this guide is to provide a ready reference for the use of interns in search funds. It provides searchers with resources describing how to recruit, train, and manage interns, along with checklists, forms, templates, and samples that searchers need for managing internship programs.

Harvard Search Fund Page
Harvard’s Search Fund page provides an overview of the model and several good videos that cover topics relating to Search Funds.

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth - Note on Search Funds
This note provides an abbreviated overview of the Search Fund model and is a good place to start for those who are new to Search Funds.

Search Fund Model in Germany
Platform created by Search Fund investor Jürgen Rilling to spread the Search Fund model to German speaking countries.

The European Search Fund Association (ESFA)
The members of the ESFA are entrepreneurs, business professionals, academics and investors with experience investing in and running search funds. The association facilitates the sharing of information regarding this investment model in the UK and Europe.

Blog - Jim Sharpe, HBS
Jim Sharpe is an Entrepreneur in Residence at the Arthur Rock Center in the Entrepreneurial Management Unit at the Harvard Business School. His interests are in the area of search acquisitions.

Academic Partners


Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (EIC)