Brian Sharples co-founded HomeAway.com with Carl Shepherd in February 2005. He raised over $400 million in private funding to acquire market-leading vacation rental websites around the world. In a recent Inc. video, Sharples discusses how he came up with the idea for HomeAway.com and what led to its success.
“One of the things that was pretty interesting about this idea is that it seemed pretty simple,” says Sharples. “If there was this huge industry of people renting homes, why hadn’t it been pulled together on the internet before?”
Sharples discovered that Expedia had actually attempted to do a similar thing in 1999 but failed. Sharples and his co-founder arranged a meeting in Seattle with the 1999 Expedia team to learn about what went wrong.
Learning from other’s mistakes
“It turns out that Expedia had made a mistake that we would have probably made ourselves,” says Sharples. “Vacation rentals are actually a complex product. It’s not like ordering up a hotel room at a Marriott. Every vacation home is different and so travelers have lots of questions.”
This meeting saved HomeAway.com from making the same mistake as Expedia. Sharples officially launched the company in 2005, and since, it has acquired over 21 vacation rental websites, consolidating them into one big marketplace. Expedia eventually acquired the company in 2014 for a reported $3.9 billion.
View the full video here.
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