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'Trep Talk

HomeAway Co-founder on Curiosity, Influence and Rejection

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Editor's Note: 'Trep Talk takes you inside the millionaire minds of the most intriguing entrepreneurs behind the big ideas. Join Entrepreneur for a more personal look at the creators of some the most successful companies today.

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

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