Vacasa - A Lesson in Growth
Association for Corporate Growth November 12, 2019
At the Association for Corporate Growth’s Fall Premier program Eric Breon, Founder and CEO of Vacasa, kept the 130 business leaders attending the event on the edge of our seats.
Brad Gevurtz, Managing Director, Investment Banking at D.A.Davidson & Co. interviewed Eric and invited questions from the audience. Here is an assorted recap of Eric’s answers, comments and remarks.
Q. How did Eric become an entrepreneur?
A. “ I am always trying to answer the question: ‘How can this be done better?’ ”
Q. How did Vacasa get started?
A. Public Relations version: Eric and his wife wanted to find a better way open up and close down a family summer cabin. So, they rented it out to cover annual opening and shut down costs. They far exceeded their revenue expectations in the first year and Vacasa was born.
A. Family version: The vacation rental business has been on Eric’s mind since he and his wife first met – he used the cabin to test his business hypothesis.
Q. What is Vacasa’s Acquisition strategy?
A. “If it moves buy it”
Q. What has been the key success factor in Vacasa’s approach to M&A?
A. It’s all about the inventory, the portfolio of properties controlled by the seller.
Q Where is Vacasa investing the capital they are raising?
A. In their M&A growth strategy, unique technology and opex to keep up with growth.
Q. What does the future of Vacasa look like?
A. Do what we are doing in more places. Scaling real estate. Growing in the upscale market.
Eric’s advice in soundbites:
- Startups should focus on making money, not raising money.
- Choose your investors/board carefully. It’s better to accept bad terms from the right investor than get great terms from a bad investor.
- The owner’s strengths can become the company’s weaknesses.
- Interview board/investors for alignment in goals and culture.
On being the founder of a very successful startup: “One study reports we get happier with more income…until we make $75,000, then our happiness flatlines.” It’s not about the money.
On raising capital in the future: An IPO is a possible option for Vacasa but private capital has plenty of gunpowder left and could surprise.
On the importance of homeowners and homeowners they work well with:
- “We focus on the Homeowners as the key part of our business strategy.”
- “We do well with profit driven homeowners.”
On the challenges of operating in Portland: Attracting senior talent to Portland can be tough (unless the Portland lifestyle is what the executive is looking for). This is mostly due to a low number of great second chance job opportunities in the Portland market. Eric used Silicon Valley as the comparison. There, second and even third, similar job options are much more bountiful.
A proud moment for Eric: The significant impact Vacasa has had on local economies. Turning the traditional slow seasons into active months which allows merchants to stay open all year around. Eric pointed to Vacasa’s presence in Rockaway Beach, Oregon as an example.
Well done, Eric. Thank you for sharing your story with leaders of the Portland business community. We are pleased to share it with our global finance community.
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