Entrepreneurship through acquisition, or ETA, is seeing a surge of interest among B-school grads.
In high school, Nick Wheeler dreamed of becoming a Green Beret. He achieved that during a decade-long Army stint, eventually leading a 12-man special forces team deployed in Eastern Europe.
After serving, Wheeler applied to a few MBA programs. The day after his interview at Harvard Business School, he met with a fellow Green Beret enrolled there and asked about his plans. When the veteran said he’d like to start a “search fund,” raising money to find, acquire and then run a small business, Wheeler was baffled. “What the hell is that?” he recalls asking. “It sounded like a ridiculous concept.”