This 3.5-day ETA Masterclass aims to provide tools, education and a peer network to embrace the opportunities and address the challenges of buying and building a small business. 


The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Robert Rothman, London Campus
One Bartholomew Close Barts Square
London, United Kingdom

Event Details

The ETA Masterclass is designed for individuals interested in acquiring & operating small businesses. Through expert-led seminars, roundtable discussions, and networking, this Masterclass will provide unparalleled learning experiences and access to a network of professionals pursuing the search fund model. The ETA Masterclass is led by Chicago Booth faculty Brian O'Connor, founder and managing partner of NextGen Growth Partners; and Mark Agnew, adjunct associate professor and former CEO and president of Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. Together they are two of the foremost educators on ETA.

Entrepreneurship through acquisition rests at the intersection of academia and the private sector, and this Masterclass will blend the vast knowledge and insight of academia with the wisdom and experience of practicing professionals.

The 3.5-day masterclass will deliver an immersive experience for both deep learning and networking. Attendees can expect to be challenged through learning and case discussion on the entire ETA process, from thesis ideation, to capital raising, to the acquisition, to creating shareholder value.


  • Individuals seeking to learn more about the asset class, whether considering pursuing the field as a searcher or investor.
  • Search fund investors, searchers and operators interested in building their networks.


  • Learn the skills, discipline, methods and strategies for effectively engaging in the ETA ecosystem
  • Build a personal, customized toolkit to apply impactful and innovative solutions across the rapidly growing ETA landscape
  • Access a diverse learning community and network of key ETA industry leaders for potential collaborations and partnerships


Special student pricing: £595 / $760 per person*

Alumni pricing: £2,800 / $3,595 per person**

General pricing: £3,500 / $4,445 per person
Early bird discount if registered by September 1

*Reserved for all current university students and recent (2023) Chicago Booth EMBA alumni

**Reserved for alumni of Chicago Booth School of Business, University of Chicago, and UChicago executive education programs


Register Online

Deadline: 9/14/2023

Speaker Profiles

Mark Agnew (Moderator) '06

Mark is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, teaching a class called "Entrepreneurship Through Acquisition." Mark is the cofounder and chairman of Pickles Group, a non for profit that supports kids that are impacted by a parents cancer. Prior to founding Pickles, Mark rejoined Lou Malnati's Pizzeria in 2011 after working there in high school and led the company through significant growth for almost a decade. When Mark was CEO and President, the company employed more than 4,000 people and operated 58 company-owned locations throughout Chicagoland and Phoenix, along with an eCommerce company Tastes of Chicago. Lou Malnati's was ranked as a top workplace eight years in a row by the Chicago Tribune.

Prior to joining Lou Malnati's in 2011, Mark spent five years as a Vice President at Dixon Midland Company, a Chicago-based private investment firm. In his role at Dixon Midland, Mark helped source platform and add-on investments as well as provide hands-on operational duties at portfolio companies. Before Dixon Midland, Mark was a private equity Associate at Glencoe Capital specializing in basic industries and an investment banking Analyst at Deutsche Bank with an emphasis on leveraged finance and MA.

Mark has a BS from Cornell University and an MBA with honors from the University of Chicago. Mark resides in Winnetka with his wife Carolyn, and their four children Molly, Elinor, James and Henry.

Brian O'Connor (Speaker) '08

Brian O'Connor is the Founder and Managing Partner of NextGen Growth Partners ("NGP"), a lower-middle market private equity firm that partners with talented entrepreneur-operators to acquire and build great companies in growing industries. The firm was founded in 2015 on the belief that there is significant opportunity for value creation when fundamentally sound small businesses are led by the best and brightest entrepreneurial-minded operators.

Prior to founding NGP, Brian served as co-CEO and Head of Business Development of Innflux, a hospitality-focused IT service company, where he oversaw sales / marketing, business development, M&A and investor relations functions. Innflux was sold to strategic buyer Thing5 in January 2015, after 3.5 years of significant growth. Brian became involved with Innflux after acquiring the business, through his search fund Fellowship Capital Partners ("FCP") in 2011.

Prior to founding FCP, Brian was a vice president with Equity International, a middle market growth private equity fund. Brian was responsible for sourcing, evaluating, underwriting and closing new investment opportunities, as well as working closely with portfolio companies post-acquisition on operations and business strategy.

Brian also serves as Board Member and Treasurer for Distinctively College Bound, a non-profit focused on creating opportunities for students to participate in extracurricular activities that cater to their individual talents and interests and promote continued education.

Brian holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in entrepreneurship, finance, accounting and international business. He is also a graduate of Miami University (Ohio) with a double major in finance and management information systems.


Laurel Elzinga 
Director of External Entrepreneurship Programs, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation