Michael Shackil (Yale SOM 2021) launches a search fund
Michael Shackil has launched Changebridge Growth Partners, a traditional partnered search fund based in northern New Jersey. “I worked in professional services and some larger corporate environments before entering Yale as a Master of Advanced Management candidate. At Yale, I explored several post-graduate paths, including launching a search fund. As a student, I learned about the entrepreneurship through acquisition model, but I was not quite ready to launch my search fund immediately after graduation. Now, with a few more years of operating experience, I believe the time has come. I am really excited about this opportunity—it feels like my academic and professional experiences are coming together, culminating in an exciting entrepreneurial venture. What I love about the search fund model is the prospect of acquiring a going concern and using that platform for a growth arc. Additionally, mentorship and coaching from the investors will be a fantastic benefit,” said Shackil.
Shackil, with his business partner Derek Margiotta, is focused on acquiring a single business in business services, tech-enabled services, or third-party logistics services, where the current owner is ready to transition out and pass the baton to the next generation of entrepreneurial leadership. The two are targeting a company with more than $5 million in revenues, a strong and positive culture, and recurring revenues that promise to be enduringly profitable. “We are actively looking for a business that we feel we can help scale and preserve the legacy created by the current owner who built it from the ground up. Given our diverse and complementary skillsets, we are confident in our ability to lead, operate, and grow over the next decade and beyond. Because we have both worked at startups in the past, we know that having the wherewithal and mental fortitude to overcome any adversity will be critical. We know that having grit and finding creative ways to solve problems are critical in small- to medium-sized businesses. Having a decade of experience with that and knowing how to “just get things done” are among the most important things we bring to the table.” Shackil and Margiotta share deep roots and connections. They grew up together in Montville, New Jersey and were childhood best friends. The name Changebridge is a nod to this connection—it was the road between their two childhood homes.
Most recently, Shackil worked as a growth specialist at the award-winning boutique innovation consulting firm Board of Innovation before leaving to launch Changebridge Growth Partners. “Being a consultant was a great way to get broad exposure to lots of businesses in a variety of industries. It was a nice extension of my graduate work, but now I am ready to go deep into a single industry with a single business. I intend to go all in with one company and build something special, a reflection of my vison and values. I am so excited to shift from an advisor to a principal role and lead a thriving business with customers and team members,” he stated.
Search funds are a burgeoning career path for the business school set. According to the 2022 Stanford Graduate School of Business Search Fund Study, 138 search fund operating companies and 107 searchers have not yet acquired businesses. What was once a quirky and niche entrepreneurial path is now quite common for post-MBA students. “There is a clear framework and model for what we are doing. We are following in the footsteps of some amazing entrepreneurs, and we hope to build on their knowledge and experiences. We are certainly not making it up as we go. There are great resources and protocols on how to execute a successful search fund, and we are studying everything that might help us.”
Shackil and Margiotta have assembled a strong group of institutional and high net worth individual investors who are located in the U.S. and globally. They plan to use their prestigious investor base for more than just capital. Specifically, they want to leverage their experience and pattern recognition. For example, Jose Moreno (Yale SOM 2023), at Swiss-based AIJ Global Holdings, is an investor. “I am really excited to partner with Michael. He is talented, smart, hardworking, and has the telltale signs of being a successful CEO. Of course, it is a wonderful coincidence that we are both Yale School of Management alumni. I have been investing in search funds for many years, and it is nice to see more Yale folks pursue this path and opportunity. I am looking forward to watching Michael and Derek build a great business for customers, team members, and shareholders.”
Shackil reflected. “I loved my time at Yale. It was a deep dive into all things business. The mission at SOM really resonated with me when I was at school, and I hope to take some of the Yale magic with me in my entrepreneurial project. I want to build a business that is impactful in society and profitable for our shareholders. I know that is a high bar, but I have the right training. Yale prepped me to be a CEO, and I am enthusiastic about taking the next step and shifting into a leadership role. I enjoyed learning, and now I am ready to put all my learning into practice. I remember my time at Yale fondly, and I built some great friendships. Yale is a special place, and I am very grateful to be part of the SOM community.”