Chicago Independent Sponsor / Fundless Sponsor

Since I founded Distant Horizon in 1999 we have worked with over 700 Midwestern companies, building an incredible rolodex of businesses and operations professionals across all industries. We have noticed a problem looming in the American economy due to what I would call the "Three Black Swan Punch" of the 9/11 attacks, the 2008 Financial Crisis and the Coronvirus pandemic.  There is a 20 year (and counting) effect on the financial position and retirement prospects of three connected generations: The Baby Boomers, The Generation X'ers and the Millennials.

In order for a business succession to occur, a business owner has to have an appropriate exit to retirement and a business needs management and financial continuity.  I would argue that a great number of really good American businesses have, and are continuing to be liquidated, sold for a fraction of their real entact value or allowed to fritter away to nothing as its owners hit, 65, 70, 75 years old. Why does this happen?  Because in order for their to be a real succession, someone either needs a next generation in their own family to continue it, or someone who has both the MONEY to buy it and the SKILLS to run it.  Herein lies the problem.  I have seen time and time again - there are people that have the money to buy a business, but they may not have the ability to find that business in the first place; the skills or even the desire to run the business; and certainly not a timeframe that would allow one to consider such a complicated venture. 

The obvious generation to take over Baby Boomer-owned businesses is Generation X, but alas! that is the age group that had just bought their first house and started having children when 9/11 and the 2008 Financial Crisis put many of them into beans and rice situations -- with measureable percentages of that generation experiencing foreclosure or business failures during their 20's, 30's and 40's.  You have a lot of these folks, like myself, that never got "rich" per se, but they do have a lot of experience and a lot of character - both of which are very handy when running a business.

A New Model Is Needed

Our concept, acting as a fundless sponsor, is to:

  • Identify good, profitable businesses, especially ones that are too small for private equity and investment banks

  • We negotiate the purchase of the individual businesses (we call them "limbs") for a mixture of cash and stock in a "trunk" roll-up organization.  Funding is provided by Angel, Private Equity and Institutional investors as appropriate based on the size of the transaction.

  • When the limb businesses form a trunk organization that is large enough to take public, we list it on an exchange, giving liquidity to stock owned by private equity and the prior business owners.

  • Distant Horizon is used as an outsourced marketing department for all branch companies and DH's network of operators and turnaround experts are utilized to find efficiencies in accounting, operations and real-estate without disturbing what makes the business GREAT!

  • The resultant organization is modeled on Illinois Tool Works, Marmon Holdings and Berkshire Hathaway.  It is not necessary that we only focus on a single industry.  What is important is to demand the factors that make all businesses successful:  marketplace demand, quality operations, profitable transactions and financial responsibility.


What Makes This Approach Different...and Better?

  • There is no "minimum size" of business we are interested in.  What we look for is a good niche, profitability, potential for growth and a good reputation.  This factor alone makes us different from 99% of investment banker-types you will talk to.

  • We have a unique way of balancing your "number" (that number we all have in our head as to our businesses' worth) and traditional appraisal and "valuation models" that can lead to a real acquisition.  Specifically, you're not selling 100.00% of the business, because in addition to some cash you are also getting shares in a much larger organization.

  • In exchange for those shares it is expected that you will offer consulting and wisdom on an ongoing basis to the younger operators who will be tasked with continuing your legacy.

  • Everyone has an exit strategy through the publicly traded shares, so they are less likely to become dissatisfied.  Liquidity and voluntary association are important!

  • Most importantly, our model keeps American businesses, many of which are family-founded and multi-generational, running as distinct entities with their own culture, staff and space.

For Interested Parties

Whether you have a business that you think is a good acquisition target, or if you are an investor seeking to participate in the acquisitions, please fill out this form and we will follow up with you.

Fundless Sponsor Inquiries

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Brandon Wilson