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'Trep Talk

HomeAway Co-founder on Curiosity, Influence and Rejection

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Brian Sharples is as driven as the come. Yet he offers no visual clues of his success. The HomeAway co-founder lives on an expansive ranch in Austin, Texas – a serene sanctuary that mirrors the entrepreneur's outwardly calm and steady demeanor.

Sharples and co-founder Carl Shepherd launched the online vacation rental marketplace in 2005 and quickly expanded globally. After 17 acquisitions, Austin-based HomeAway went public last year and lists more than 640,000 rental properties in 168 countries. Annual revenues totaled $230.2 million in 2011.

For this interview with 'Trep Talk, I sat down with Sharples, 51, at his Texas ranch. It was a brisk day and he was on crutches after a skiing injury. He talked about his "aha moment" for his business, his approach to business planning and handling rejection, among other things. Here are some highlights:

  • His business grew out of his preference for renting homes for family vacations and the realization there wasn't a one-stop shop for vacation rentals.
  • Entrepreneurs who anticipate potential obstacles to their success impress him more than those with rose-colored glasses.
  • His response to rejection: If doors are slamming in your face, figure out why. "Instead of fighting it, learn from it and adjust," he says.
Teri Evans is deputy editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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