Matt Dittrich, a 2018 graduate of the Yale School of Management (SOM), is launching his entrepreneurial career with the formation of Blue Wood Capital (BWC), a search fund aimed at acquiring a business he will lead as CEO. Following the completion of his MBA at Yale, Dittrich consulted venture-backed start-ups in the Pacific Northwest and helped establish The Fort, a center for innovation at Fortive (NYSE: FTV), where he launched internal start-ups and drove the operational excellence of portfolio companies. He began his career on the management consulting team of Bain & Company in London, England, and then served as the market development manager for the CEO of nLIGHT (LASR), growing the company across four continents and laying the financial groundwork for a 2018 IPO.
“I’m ready to be an entrepreneur,” said Dittrich. “This is exactly what all my personal, professional, and academic experience has been leading toward. I learned a lot at Bain; it gave me great exposure to lots of industries and their models. As for Fortive (a Danaher (NASDAQ: DHR) spinoff), that was a deep dive into acquisitions and operational excellence, part of the Danaher school of process-driven performance. And, of course, Yale was lush with learning practical and theoretical frameworks. All those life chapters have prepared me to be an entrepreneur—to get in the arena and do it. I’m beyond excited!”
After evaluating several search-fund models, Dittrich chose an independent, traditional search structure (as opposed to an accelerator, single-investor sponsor, or self-funded model), and he raised $425,000 from 13 investors.
David Dodson, an entrepreneur, investor, and prolific author on all things search, as well as a lecturer on management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is a proud BWC investor.
“I am delighted with Matt,” Dodson said. “He has a nice way about him and will definitely connect with potential sellers and team members. He’s touched a lot of components in the search-fund ecosystem, and he’s ready to be an entrepreneur. I’m excited and fortunate to be part of his team, and I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes.”
Dittrich said he feels very lucky to have assembled a great group of investors to provide advice, support, coaching, and capital.
“I really focused on the beyond-capital, investor-base value add. These folks are a group of experienced investors and entrepreneurs, and several are veteran search-fund entrepreneurs themselves. I see them as a team of mentors who can help me find the right business, and once I jump into the CEO role, they’ll help guide me in the business’s growth and operation. These are people who have succeeded and excelled as entrepreneurs and investors. And as faculty members and authors, they’re also thought leaders in the search-fund world.”
Dittrich himself has contributed to the search-fund ecosystem since 2017, when he was a Summer Associate at Trilogy Search Partners, a Bellevue, Washington, investment firm with an emphasis on search funds. There, he teamed up with the fund’s managing directors on dozens of potential deals. Further, as a two-time teaching fellow delivering courses in SOM’s Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition and Leading Small and Medium Enterprises, Dittrich advised several Yale searchers. Additionally, he founded the Yale Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition Club and championed university-wide entrepreneurship initiatives as the club’s co-president and a Yale University senator.
When asked about his time at SOM, Dittrich laughed and said, “Yale was awesome. I had fun, loved my peers, and was pushed and challenged intellectually and academically. It was an important chapter in my life. It really helped me grow and find the direction I wanted to pursue professionally. The resources were rich and readily available, and they propelled me to where I am today. I cherished my time in New Haven, and I’m grateful to all my friends and faculty members who touched me in many positive ways. I’m now ready for my next chapter—being an entrepreneur—and I want to make the Yale community proud of what I’m doing. Yale will always have a special place in my heart.
“SOM was a fantastic experience,” Dittrich continued. “I loved the community, the relationships I built, and the coursework. I was fortunate to take a deep dive into search funds in A. J. Wasserstein’s Entrepreneurship through Acquisition course, which was a great opportunity to fully explore the search model, understand the strategy, and figure out how to jump in. I also met a bunch of other searchers, and after hearing their stories, I realized that it was something I really wanted and something I could do. Seeing successful entrepreneurs just a few years ahead of you is truly inspiring and motivating.”
Despite his affinity for Yale, BWC will be based on the other side of the country—in Seattle, Washington, Dittrich’s home state. This is because he has deep roots in the Pacific Northwest, and it therefore makes sense to begin his work there. Nevertheless, his search will be nationwide.
“I’m willing to relocate anywhere I find a business with compelling economic characteristics,” he added.
Dittrich and BWC will initially target its search in industrial, agricultural, and health services. Specific areas include industrial calibration services, agriculture fertilization and pest control, retirement community services, power plant operations and maintenance, agriculture marketing and supply chains, and ambulatory surgical center back offices.