Acquiring and operating an existing small business is a time-tested path to entrepreneurship. Rather than creating a new venture from scratch, the entrepreneur can search for a current business – which has people, product, and process assets – and acquire those assets to mitigate the start-up risks. The entrepreneur can focus instead on executing a turnaround, scaling the business, or whatever strategy best positions the company for success. The search process and the acquisition itself may be funded by outside investors. This path to entrepreneurship is often called Entrepreneurship through Acquisition, or ETA.
NEW COURSE Entrepreneurship through Acquisition (Independent Study, offered Fall 2) – Interested in becoming an entrepreneur but don’t have an idea for a startup? This course is for you. This class introduces students to ETA, the process of becoming an entrepreneur by buying an existing business. Students will cover the entire process, beginning with exploring different funding models for ETA, conducting a search, negotiating a purchase transaction, the first 100 days on the job, and exiting a successful business. Class will include a mix of background reading, case discussion, meetings with guest speakers, and industry analysis. The course includes a final project that identifies a candidate industry or geography for a targeted search, or else identifies a candidate acquisition target and potential deal structure. This course is an independent study only. You must sign up here for information on how to enroll.
Interviews with ETA practitioners
To learn more about entrepreneurship through acquisition, please check out the following interviews of ETA practitioners conducted by Fuqua students.
- Start here: An introduction to this series of interviews and an accompanying slide deck Introduction to ETA by Prof. Shawn Munday
- Perspective from an entrepreneur actively searching for a business to acquire (“Searcher”): Interview with CJ Casselli MBA ’19
- Perspective from a Search Fund investor: Interview with Badge Stone, Managing Partner and Co-Founder, WSC & Company
- Perspective from an entrepreneur actively operating an acquired business (“Operator”): Interview with Brian Alvarez, CEO of Manley’s Boiler
- Perspective from legal counsel: Interview with Raam Jani, Shareholder and member of the Corporate practice area at Vedder Price.
If you are interested in learning how to get started with ETA, including recommendations on Fuqua courses to take, student clubs, and other activities to consider, take a look at our Scaling Middle-Market Firms page.