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Taylor Garden '22 Launches a Search Fund

Taylor Garden

Taylor Garden has launched a search fund, Melrose Legacy Partners, since graduating from the Yale School of Management last spring. Garden entered Yale as a Wall Street and corporate finance professional and exited as a budding entrepreneur. “I learned a lot working in finance before my MBA program at Yale, and I enjoyed those experiences. Wall Street was a crash course on business models, capital structures, and financial markets. After Wall Street, I worked in corporate finance at a luxury footwear brand and got the chance to apply my Wall Street experience to a single company. Yale opened my eyes to many new business models, career paths, and potential ways to be an entrepreneur. After a lot of soul searching, conversations with mentors and faculty members, and thinking about what I want my life to be, I committed to launching a search fund. I feel like this is a progressive step that will allow me to synthesize and operationalize all of my career and educational experiences to date,” said Garden.

Yale SOM's first female searcher, Garden is focused on acquiring a single business in a fragmented industry where the current owner is ready to transition out of the business and pass the baton to the next generation of entrepreneurial leadership. She is seeking a company with a predictable recurring revenue model, low capital intensity, and earnings in the $1.5 to $10.0 million range. “I did not know about search funds before entering Yale and quickly became enamored with the model in class. I am really excited about the opportunity to lead, develop, and build a business. Starting a business from scratch did not appeal to me since I did not have a breakthrough idea. The search fund framework will let me focus on building and growing since I will purchase a healthy business that is a going concern. Another appealing dynamic in the search fund model is the investor group, which provides coaching and mentorship to a first-time CEO like me. The entire search ecosystem has been extremely helpful and supportive. I feel fortunate to have discovered this community while at Yale.”

Garden likes the search fund approach with its focus on leadership, long-term focus, and people in the business. She believes this is an appealing contrast to private equity’s financial engineering and shorter-term orientation. Garden wants to use her managerial and leadership skills in building and creating instead of exclusively focusing on balance sheet structuring. “I want to own a small business and use my professional and academic experiences to build, grow, and lead. Wall Street was great, but I‘m ready for my next chapter,” she declared.

Locating a business to acquire is not easy and demands hard work with a dose of serendipity. However, Garden is not fearful since she is used to competitive challenges. In college, she was a national-caliber elite rower who captained her team. “Of course, searching will be a challenge, but I am fully committed, excited, and ready to get into the game and find a business. I am used to competitive environments and am looking forward to this journey.”

Lacey Wismer, founder of Hunter Search Capital and an investor in Garden’s project, commented regarding Garden, “I am really excited to partner with Taylor. She is smart, poised, articulate, and energetic. She has the personal, academic, and professional credentials we look for when backing search fund entrepreneurs. I have gotten to know her over many conversations and always walk away feeling energized and confident about her ability to acquire and lead a business. I look forward to working with Taylor and being part of her journey. I think she has what it takes.”

“I am a big fan of Taylor’s,” said Steve Divitkos, a professional search fund investor and founder of Toronto-based Mineola Search Partners.” Taylor has all the characteristics I want to see in a search fund candidate. She has a likable demeanor that will resonate with potential sellers and employees. Taylor was a highly sought-after entrepreneur in the investment community. She had the opportunity to build out her cap table with whomever she wanted. I am lucky to have the opportunity to partner with her, and I think she will do a fantastic job.”

Garden reflected, “I loved my time at Yale. The MBA program was a perfect match for me at the right time in my career. The classes were great, and I learned a lot about theoretical and practical models – I have the foundation I need to be a successful CEO. I felt challenged intellectually and grew as a result. My fellow students were amazing. I made friends from all over the world and learned as much outside class as I did in class. I am certain my friends will be a huge resource in my entrepreneurial venture. I was sad to leave Yale, but I am also thrilled to be moving forward into the next chapter that Yale helped me prepare for. Yale SOM’s mission is to educate leaders for business and society. They succeeded with me – I am ready and excited to lead.”