Independent Sponsors or Search Funds – Which is Right for You?

About the Episode

The role of independent sponsors as investors is growing in the M&A world. Bakari Akil is an acquisition entrepreneur, and he shares his inspiring story of learning the ins and outs of buying companies and provides tips on getting started. He defines independent sponsors and search funds, clarifies the differences between these acquisition models, and discusses the role of the investor. Bakari also talks about his experience as a digital nomad and the lessons he’s learned while working around the world.

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“The most revolutionary business realization for me was learning that you can buy a company as an individual. The opportunity is available, and the capital is available, and it can be done – you don’t need to be a massive corporation to complete an acquisition.” 

Bakari Akil

In this Episode

2:30 What is a search fund and an independent sponsor?
5:32 What’s the difference between a search fund and an independent sponsor?
10:25 What is Bakari Akil’s background?
15:51 Where did the money come from for Bakari’s first self-funded acquisition?
19:28 How much money does a buyer need to put into a search fund to purchase a company and prove that they have skin in the game?
21:10 What is the role of an investor with an independent sponsor during the acquisition and then when operating the purchased business?
23:16 What is an SBIC (small business investment corporation)?
24:12 What role do VCs and private equity firms play in the SBIC space?
26:30 What’s the toughest part of putting a deal together?
28:35 What are the first steps after an acquisition entrepreneur has bought a company?
32:19 What has Bakari learned traveling around the world?
36:35 What is the most important business lesson Bakari has learned?
45:30 What resources are available for learning more about search funds?

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Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Terms Mentioned in This Episode

  • SBIC: Small Business Investment Corporations
  • SBA: Small Business Administration
  • VCs: Venture Capital Firms

Meet Our Guest

Bakari Akil

Bakari Akil

Acquisition Entrepreneur

Bakari Akil is the Director of Corporate Development at TriMech and an acquisition entrepreneur, founding Graves Hall Capital to acquire companies. In 2023, he acquired a $35 million burlap bag manufacturing company with Granite Creek Partners, LLC, where he recruited the company’s CEO and sits on the board of directors. In 2021, he executed the acquisition of a $25 million educational technology company with Iron Creek Partners, LLC.

Bakari has previously served as the Director of Corporate Development for an engineering software company, been the Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for an artificial intelligence company, and Director at a technology-focused private equity firm. In each role, Bakari was responsible for sourcing, evaluating, and executing multi-million dollar acquisitions. Bakari is also a visiting lecturer at Cornell’s Graduate School of Management, where he teaches MBA candidates how to buy businesses.

Location Location: New York, USA
Website Website:

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