Dan Kurber is eschewing the traditional MBA recruiting process and job search, instead launching a self-funded search firm, Red Letter Capital, based in Columbus, GA. While at Yale, Kurber immersed himself in all things search fund, coming to SOM with the intention of leading and building a small business as a CEO. Yale was essential in propelling Kurber toward his final goal of launching a search fund to serve as a vehicle for purchasing an existing business. Between his first and second year, Kurber did an internship with the CEO of Alliance CAS, Judd Lorson (Yale SOM 2017), a company Lorson acquired through a search fund. Beyond their alma mater, Lorson and Kurber shared a history of service as Navy and Army veterans, respectively. Witnessing Lorson in action as a CEO gave Kurber the confidence that he too could acquire, lead, and grow a business. In his second year, Kurber enthusiastically devoured all of SOM’s courses related to search funds and small businesses, confirming his path after graduation—a search fund where he could fulfil his entrepreneurial vision.
Kurber aspires to replicate the success of fellow classmate Ross Butler, also a self-funded searcher who acquired Cleveland-based BPI Information Systems before graduation. “Seeing what Judd and Ross have done is really motivating and inspirational. Ross and I worked together on group projects and discussed search funds, and Judd is a vet like me. I have a ton of respect for them both. They sourced and acquired attractive businesses and are now leading them successfully. It’s awesome. What is so exciting is the notion of using all my leadership skills from the Army and all my academic training at Yale in my role as a CEO. My search will be focused in the southeast. I am looking for an operationally simple business that is enduringly profitable. I do not need anything that is ‘sexy’ or exciting. I am looking for a $1 million EBITDA niche services business with recurring revenue, low capital expenditure, some organic growth, and an opportunity to professionalize and scale the company over decades. I’m hoping to find something that my family can use to positively impact the local community and run long-term.”
Kurber is a married father of three children. He believes being a small business CEO and entrepreneur is a wonderful way to integrate his personal and professional goals. “I love my family and spending time with them is a major priority in my life. A couple of my kids even ‘audited’ (sat on my lap) some of my Zoom classes this year! I think running my own business will give me a great deal of flexibility to structure my time so I can attend school plays and parent-teacher conferences and then get back to the office to lead my team. Being an entrepreneur will be hard work and great fun, but it’s important to maintain balance with my personal life.”
Before attending Yale, Kurber was a company commander in the U.S. Army. He graduated from West Point and served for eight years. “Yale was a great transition for me professionally. I am an Army guy, so I had limited business or commercial experience coming into school. West Point was a phenomenal environment to observe and think about leadership and culture, and Yale gave me the competencies necessary to launch a search and work as a CEO. Yale’s two-year immersion in finance, marketing, operations, and accounting has imbued me with the confidence I need to put all of my experience into practice.”
Describing his time at Yale, Kurber exclaimed, “I have gotten so much from my Yale experience, and although I still have a lot to learn, I am ready to launch. Judd has been an invaluable mentor for me and is a great example of the power of the Yale SOM ecosystem. I have so many peers at SOM with similar entrepreneurial interests, there is a growing search fund network percolating at Yale with current students and alumni sharing ideas, best practices, and emotional support. I have loved so many of my courses, especially Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition and Leading Small and Medium Enterprises. These both clarified exactly what I want to do. I am ready to move forward into the next chapter of my career as an entrepreneur and CEO. I appreciate the openness of others within the Yale and search fund communities and am looking forward to sharing my experiences in the future.”