Connor McCarthy, Canyonlands Fund
Canyonlands Fund, Current Searcher, Traditional Search
Survey completed September 18, 2020.
Why did you choose your model? Would you make the same choice again?
Mentorship & resources with a funding expectation prior to transaction. Almost went solo/captive but didn’t like the idea of reporting to one person, being an employee (explored for almost 3 months). Considered self-funding but economics weren’t meaningfully different and the mentorship is worth the tradeoff.
Are you searching with a partner? If so, why did you choose them? How did you find them? If not, why did you choose to search solo?
Yes – my fiancée (who I met in business school)
When is the right time to start speaking with investors? How did you select your search and/or acquisition investors?
1-2 months before you’re ready to launch. Fundraising happened super fast. We wanted to have our legal fund formation and bank accounts set before accepting any commitments. We sourced largely through Stanford GSB network – professors who invest and classmates who had searched made introductions to their networks
Did you get an MBA before searching? If so, where and why?
Yes – Stanford. I wanted to be an entrepreneur, knew I’d need a network of advisors and to someday fundraise
What is your work experience prior to searching?
Pre-MBA: McKinsey, Google corporate strategy; Post-MBA: CEO of PE-backed business (sold it in August, 2019 and formed our fund in December)
What industries and sizes of companies are you pursuing?
Outdoor recreation and active travel. We’re building a holding company, hoping for 5-10 investments in next 3-5 years
How long have you been searching?
What systems do you use? (CRM, Email Manager, etc)
ZoomInfo, Outreach, Gmail
How do you identify prospects to acquire? Do you use only brokers, only direct outreach, or both?
Brokers and direct, sourced through intern research and ZoomInfo. Industry associations have been extremely helpful (we may end up acquiring one who started as a river guide…)
Approximately how many direct outreach calls and emails have you made to owners?
How do you find company lists?
Do you use interns? If so, how many? What do you have them do?
3-4 per cohort 8 week cohorts Training program, first and foremost – includes lectures, case studies, and investor speaker series Industry research and lead list building
Approximately how many deals have you reviewed?
How many companies have you gotten to the LOI stage with? How long before your first one?
1. 7 months. We’d probably be at 4 right now if not for COVID
What has been the most challenging part of your search? What was harder/easier than you expected?
“Hurry up and wait” approach… feels like we’re always putting tons of effort into things in sprints and we don’t see the fruit of their labor for months
What articles, books, and resources were most helpful to you in preparing to search?
Stanford Search Fund Study Primer, HBR Guide.
What do you wish you knew prior to searching?
There will be many slow days! That’s okay… There will be many deals you get your heart set on. That’s also okay.
What single piece of advice would you share with prospective searchers?
You’re committing 5-10 precious years of your life to this. You have agency. Choose an industry, geography, and company that’ll be worthy of the best years of your career — make sure you love it.