By: Tim Kelly, MBA ’00, Polsky investor-in-residence

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it through your own passion,

and build a life you’re proud to have lived.”

– Anne Sweeney

I work with a lot of people seeking career advice, from business school students beginning their quest to find the ideal career to senior executives disenchanted with some aspect of their career.

I like to start every conversation with a seemingly simple question.

How do you define success?

The question is harder to answer than most initially think since “success” means something different to each of us. It’s not…


Searcher David Newberry, MBA ’15, sees the increased interest in Entrepreneurship through Acquisition (ETA) by millennials as a product of their experiences working during the Great Recession and a global financial crisis. He, himself, is one of these millennials.

“I grew up with a lot of economic insecurity, and I worked hard to get an education that would position me for what I imagined as career success but what I got was bad timing,” he said.

When he first learned of the search fund model, it was the end of the Great Recession and he’d just started his own business…


There is no linear path when it comes to the Entrepreneurship through Acquisition model. For Michael Tobey, MBA ’12, it was not even a consideration. He graduated from Chicago Booth thinking that he would eventually find inspiration to start his own company. After several years in investment banking, and no inspiration, a friend told him to look into doing a search fund. Reticent at first, Tobey’s research started him down the path that would eventually lead him to becoming the founder and managing principal of Springline Partners, his very own search fund.

The Polsky Center spoke with Tobey about his…


By: Tim Kelly, MBA ’00, Polsky Investor-in-Residence

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Anaïs Nin

We’ve all experienced it — the person who randomly says things or behaves in ways that others find outright objectionable, questionable upon reflection, or simply awkward in the moment.

Oftentimes, these are people we would say are “smart enough” to know better than to say or do what they did. Across my 35 years in private equity, I experienced many moments where highly intelligent, successful, respected, and even admired professionals caused me to gasp at their untoward comments or emotional outbursts. …


By: Polsky Entrepreneur-in-Residence Alex Hodgkin

In the Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) world in general, it’s no surprise that traditional, incubated, and self-funded approaches using SBA loans tend to receive the most attention. However, operator-led independent sponsors, management buyouts, management buy-ins, SPACs, and ESOP transactions are all approaches that also deserve recognition.

And while the main differentiator in each of these approaches focuses on the form in which the transaction takes place, the more important point is that they all consummate the same thing. …


The 2018 Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Conference hosted a record number of attendees.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Polsky Center, in collaboration with the Booth School of Business and the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, hosted the annual Booth-Kellogg Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition (ETA) Conference.

On Wednesday, November 7, entrepreneurs, investors, MBA students, and faculty gathered together and shared insights on the rapidly-growing ETA community and investment class. With an expanded agenda and the largest-ever crowd in attendance, the conference was an overwhelming success — showcasing the rising prominence of the University of Chicago and Chicagoland area throughout the ETA ecosystem.

Since the first Booth-Kellogg ETA Conference held in 2014, Polsky has witnessed…


A conversation with Booth alum, Gil Karsten, MBA ’08, partner, Pátria Investimentos

Founded in the late 1980s, Pátria Investimentos is one of the world’s largest alternative investment managers focused on LatAm assets. A private equity pioneer in Brazil, Pátria has four key components to its investment portfolio: infrastructure, real estate and agribusiness, credit, and private investments in public entities (PIPE). Pátria is distinguished by its team’s stability and experience. The firm has 14 partners — 12 of whom have been working together for over 14 years — and more than 200 employees.

Gil Karsten, MBA ’08 has been a partner at Pátria since 2014 and currently focuses on new business efforts and…


A search fund story, from start to finish

Polsky first spoke with recent Chicago Booth alum Shamus Hines, MBA ’14, in December of 2015. At the time, Hines had just begun his search and provided us with some insight into what his fundraising experience had been like and where he was hoping to target his search. Since then, Hines successfully acquired software solution company Applied Data Corporation (ADC) in August 2017.

And now, with a full year of CEO-dome under his belt, we wanted to check back in on how this post-searcher eventually found the company he acquired, how he has been handling his new role, and what…


How a recent Booth alum turned a potential investor’s portfolio into his own personal job board

The road map to successfully raising a search fund has never been a simple “first A, then B” kind of journey. A searcher’s path to funding and acquisition is winding and complex, filled with many forks, detours, and roadblocks. But, sometimes the most confusing part of it all is the simple task of getting started.

How do you know where to begin? How do you know if you’re even ready to begin? These are incredibly important questions that all searchers and would-be searchers need to ask, and the answer isn’t always what they want to hear.

Recent Booth alum Sri…


Inside Tovala’s newly opened Lincoln Park pop-up

For 2015 New Venture Challenge winner Tovala, the hardest part of their customer acquisition process has always been overcoming the initial “too good to be true” skepticism that comes with any truly disruptive idea.

But lucky for this home kitchen innovator, the Tovala oven and meal-delivery service are as good as they seem. And now, they’re coming up with a new way to prove it.

As of this past Saturday, June 28, the Tovala team has officially opened their very own brick and mortar storefront in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, scheduled to stay until mid-September.

Polsky Center @ UChicago

Fostering the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Chicago | @polskycenter

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