Case Note authors: Adam Wilver and A. J. Wasserstein

Completing a search fund transaction involves many challenges. On top of raising capital, identifying a high-quality asset with appealing economic characteristics, and ensuring thebusiness is for sale, an aspiring entrepreneur must also convince the budding seller that they are the right buyer for the business (after all, desirable businesses often have many potential suitors). To accomplish this, the search fund entrepreneur must detect the seller’s top priorities in a transaction and prove that they can fulfill those goals. A deep understanding of what sellers are looking for can help potential buyers offer sellers exactly what they want to proceed toward a mutually rewarding transaction efficiently (or move on if buyer and seller lack alignment).

To date, nearly all search fund research has focused on buyers, meaning search fund entrepreneurs. Research is abundantly available on various aspects of a buyer’s journey – from raising capital to searching to acquiring to operating. However, little research has focused on the important first act of the search fund story – the seller’s background, mindset, and priorities. It takes two parties to complete a transaction, and sellers have been neglected in the current investigation of the full search fund journey. In this case note, we aim to explore what business sellers most care about when selling their business. This will help search fund entrepreneurs better understand sellers’ goals and priorities to more successfully navigate search fund transactions.

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