True Partners for each step of

your search journey.

Inspiring Entrepreneurs

Mentoring Searchers

Empowering CEOs

Inspiring Entrepreneurs

What backgrounds do searchers need?

While many searchers have backgrounds in consulting, investment banking, or private equity, this is not a requirement to raise or run a search. We value the wide range of experiences and skills that prospective searchers bring to the table, regardless of their professional background. Fundamentally, we believe in empowering talented individuals who are passionate about driving growth and creating value in the companies they acquire.

Search Funds

Who typically raises a search fund?

Search funds are typically raised by recent graduates from top-tier business schools or experienced professionals who are looking to transition into entrepreneurship, but who aren’t convinced or drawn to startup entrepreneurship. Oftentimes, this is because they want to operate a firm, but don’t have a groundbreaking idea or want to go about finding product-market fit. In other situations, search fund entrepreneurs are seeking startup like upside but with downside protection.

Search Funds

What is a search fund?

A search fund is an entrepreneurial path undertaken by one or two ambitious individuals (the “searchers”) who form an investment vehicle with a small group of aligned investors, to search for, acquire, and lead a privately held company for the medium to long term (typically 6 to 10 years)

Search Funds

What skills do searchers possess?

Over the last several decades, Relay has had the privilege of working with many successful search partners who attained outsized outcomes for themselves and their investors. While each searcher CEO is unique, those who are most successful tend to share a few common characteristics: 

Strong discipline: While searching is a thrilling experience, at times it can also be difficult, monotonous, and taxing. While having a strong investor group to support you helps immensely, a searcher’s discipline remains paramount. The most successful searcher CEOs are able to maintain consistency in work ethic throughout the vicissitudes of searching, operating, and exiting their companies. 

Sales skills: Sales skills are essential throughout the search fund journey. Whether it’s selling yourself to investors, convincing business owners that you’re the right acquirer, or pursuing new clients for your business, being a successful searcher CEO requires excellent sales skills. 

Technical skills: Technical skills equip searchers with the expertise needed to analyze potential target companies thoroughly and manage their enterprise post-acquisition. These skills include the ability to evaluate financials, assess market dynamics, and identify growth opportunities, among others. 

Bias towards action: Being a successful searcher requires consistently taking many novel actions on a daily basis. Each week of the search accounts for ~1% of a searcher’s runway. As such, having a bias towards taking action is crucial towards making every dollar count. 

Willingness to learn: A willingness to seek feedback, digest information, and act on suggestions from your investor group, advisors, and board members is crucial in a searcher’s ability to expedite their learning curve.

Search Funds

How does Relay support its search partners?

Relay supports its search partners by offering educational and tactical resources (including access to exclusive deals with technology providers), consistent one-on-one mentorship, access to an extensive network of experienced professionals, and capital. We provide guidance on deal sourcing, due diligence, negotiation, and post-acquisition value creation strategies. We also frequently sit on the boards of searcher’s acquired companies if invited to do so.

Relay Investments

Does Relay have capacity to serve on boards?

Although not a requirement to make an investment, we would be happy to support you by serving on the board of your business. Relay's Senior Team currently has capacity to serve on the boards of newly acquired companies. Additionally, when specific industry expertise is needed, we are happy to make connections to our network of operating partners, who can represent us on boards as well.

Relay Investments

What does Relay expect of its search partners?

We strive to provide you with the highest support to ensure a successful journey. In turn, we expect your full dedication to the endeavor, transparency in communication, and openness to ask for help. Being focused, open, and knowing where you need additional guidance is key in allowing us to make the most of our partnership.

Relay Investments

What position does Relay take in search funds it supports?

As one of the largest investors in the ecosystem, Relay acts as a lead investor in the majority of the search funds that we participate in. Typically, we take 15-25% of a search cap table, with the aim of investing $1M-$3.5M into the equity check for the searcher’s future acquisition. Relay is industry agnostic and will evaluate deals from nearly any vertical. Additionally, while Relay is U.S. focused, we are also one of the largest investors in search funds internationally.

Relay Investments

Where does Relay’s expertise come from?

Across time, we have assembled a robust and diverse team, with individuals from different professional and personal backgrounds, with several decades of collective experience. Through our experiences, our network of experts, and leveraging Sandro’s 30+ years in the space, we have been able to develop a strong sense of pattern recognition that allows us to identify opportunities and threats across industries and businesses.

Relay Investments

What are the first steps in raising a search fund?

When considering raising a search fund, the best place to start is by connecting with current searchers and operators in the ecosystem. We recommend that prospective searchers speak with 25-35 individuals in the space before fundraising. This allows prospective searchers to go in with their eyes open to what the process entails. After these conversations, searchers should develop a Private Placement Memorandum (“PPM”), determine which investors they would like in their group, and begin setting up introductory calls.

Getting Started in Search

What qualities should I look for in my investor group?

We recommend that prospective searchers engage in conversations with current and former searchers to learn about the advantages of various capital providers. The space is filled with many excellent investors that provide value beyond capital. As such, we suggest that searchers select an investor group that best complements their skills and aligns with their long-term goals.

Getting Started in Search

What should I do if I’d like to learn more about working with Relay?

Whether you’re fundraising, seeking capital for an acquisition, or simply considering searching and want to learn more, we’d be thrilled to connect with you. Please do not hesitate to reach out through our contact form.

Getting Started in Search

How can I connect with searchers and operators?

You just need to ask. Whether it is through a cold email or a warm referral, you can reach out to different members of the community and ask for some time to chat. The search fund ecosystem is extremely open and collaborative, and most searchers and operators will be happy to guide and support you. 

Tactically, you can leverage your school or work networks to see which individuals you might be most closely connected to in order to begin your outreach. We would be happy to connect you with some of our search partners and CEOs if you need a place to start. 

Getting Started in Search

Should I have a partner?

The decision to search on your own or with a partner is a deeply personal one and must be taken with extreme care. Historically, partnered searchers have delivered higher returns, however, this alone should not be your reason for deciding to search for a partner. We have seen very successful search funds be led by both solo and partnered searchers.  

Solo searchers might prefer work mostly on their own, with the support of their investor group, and be the one making the decisions, while taking a higher share of the upside (up to 25%). Partnered searchers, however, will take a smaller share each (up to 30% between the 2 searchers), but will benefit from their complementary skillsets, emotional support and split roles and responsibilities.

Getting Started in Search

Mentoring Searchers

Preparing to launch

From thesis formation through launch, we're committed to helping our search partners avoid common but unnecessary hurdles, so they can focus their attention on hitting the ground running

Searching at scale

Whether through mentorship calls, our Search Fund Starter Pack, the Relay Search Forum, or our proprietary tech partnerships, we’ll be by your side as you work to expand and optimize your outreach efforts

Deal construction and diligence

With former searchers, private equity professionals, investment bankers, consultants, and entrepreneurs on our team, we have the background and skills necessary to help you diligence opportunities and construct mutually beneficial deals with sellers

Empowering CEOs

Building a Successful Enterprise

After acquisition, your success as an operator is our #1 priority. The capital we provide is just the start. We’ll be your partners as you go through the process of identifying industry experts, constructing a board, taking over the reins, and growing your firm into a successful enterprise.

Christopher Sykes

CEO, Swoogo

Relay was the first investor in my fund and has guided me through this process from fundraising, to searching, to acquiring and running my business. Sandro, Felipe and Alfonso have provided me with industry introductions, friendly advice, and hands on guidance. When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020 and my deal was in jeopardy, Felipe was the first person I called. I would not have been able to close my deal without Relay's support.

Mark Anderegg

Chairman and Former CEO, Little Sprouts

Sandro was one of my original investors more than a decade ago. After many years of close collaboration, I still consider him amongst the most experienced and thoughtful longtime leaders in the search fund ecosystem.

Chris Avery

CEO, WholesalePet.com

No one seeks to create more value-added networking opportunities than Sandro and his team. They draw from years of experience in the search investment process…And with Sandro on my board, I see firsthand how he channels this experience into growing the business and investment.

Vito Giurazza

Group CEO, Tikedo

I counted on the Relay team for their enormous resources during the entire fundraising process. Sandro is invaluable because of his global investing experience... Relay has been a core part of Maestrale Capital and Tikedo since day 1.

Jane Kaggwa

CEO, AquaVita Holdings

The Relay Investments team has been a great investor-partner for me as a search fund entrepreneur…Sandro and Relay are fully engaged, well informed on emerging markets, and have facilitated a mutually beneficial partnership.

Malcolm & Simone Collins

Co-CEOs, Travelmax

Relay manages its investors’ money brilliantly while also mentoring and supporting searchers in a manner that empowers them to constantly expand their capacity. The team is always there to step in and lend a hand, be it with due diligence, financial models, contract review, negotiating tips, industry/geography insights, or general strategy advice. We’ve never had an investor respond so graciously to what we worry come across as dumb questions—or respond so astutely to what we find to be intricate, nuanced challenges. We regularly speak about doing search funds at universities and when MBA students ask us which investors we’d recommend, Relay is always at the top of that list.

An experienced team

A team with rich backgrounds as operators, searchers, and investors - there for you through thick and thin