A Founder's Perspective:
Our 5th Anniversary as part of Volaris Group

This article belongs to a multi-part series through the lens of our business-unit founders themselves.

Join Eric Dodson, President & CEO of WebCheckout, as he shares his emotional journey with tech entrepreneurship. In this article, Eric openly discusses some of the challenges of running a business, his motives to sell, and his reflection 5 years post-acquisition. A relatable, must-read for tech entrepreneurs considering M&A.

Connect with Eric on LinkedIn to stay up to date on his journey with WebCheckout and Volaris Group.

It all begins.

Starting your own business is one of the most significant decisions that you will make in life, short of marriage or starting a family. And there are many sacrifices a founder must make when bringing new ‘life’ into this world – your ‘baby’, your startup. For me, and most entrepreneurs alike, those sacrifices are happily made because the reward is well worth it.

It doesn’t end there – achieving success in entrepreneurship is a continuous balancing act between decision-making, risk management, and leadership.

There was a lot to be proud of in our years as an independent software vendor. We devoted time and passion towards building a business we could be proud of; fighting like heck for everything we earned. 

But we made it. Persevering through typical and unexpected obstacles like a plant growing between a crack in the pavement. We matured our business processes and created stable, steady growth.


Considering sale.

Fast-forwarding through nearly two decades of dedication, we had undeniably cultured a successful business. But I longed for more.

"I didn’t make all those sacrifices merely to create a nice income for myself. Nor was I satisfied with setting the bar at steady, incremental growth. As nice as those things are, I wanted to drive our ambitions to the next level of success. And I wanted to share that success with the team that helped to get us there. I wanted more for my leadership and staff."

-- Eric Dodson, President & CEO, WebCheckout

I knew our product and services solved a series of operational issues for our customers, and that our plans could help them more. I believed in our software but felt like we needed a catalyst – a push in the right direction, some fresh strategic perspective, and support with our initiatives.


Considering types of acquirers.

Starting a business is one thing. Selling it is another. I knew the sale would have an emotional impact on me, our employees, customers and even our families; and I wanted that impact to be positive. I wanted to find the right home for my legacy to continue.

"I was contacted by several acquirers about selling the business. The callers were likable enough, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they weren’t the future for me and the company."

-- Eric Dodson, President & CEO, WebCheckout

No matter the acquirer - a Private Equity firm or some other existing software company - I found it hard to trust that our business goals and interests would align.

I wanted to increase my chances of achieving the dreams I had for the company, the product, and every bit as importantly, my team; after all, once the deal was done, we would all have to live with consequences.

Sometime around then, I was contacted by Volaris Group. In many ways, the calls were like the others. But I was impressed with some key differentiators:

•  Volaris’ Buy-and-hold philosophy
•  Alignment on the value of my existing team – an understanding that talent management is the first step to having a great business
•  The promise to invest in my team long-term
•  A core value of sharing best practices while providing the autonomy and freedom to operate
•  25+ years of successfully growing software businesses

"Volaris’ buy, nurture and hold forever approach, to me, exhibited their careful consideration of acquisitions and their commitment to support each business unit through thick and thin."

-- Eric Dodson, President & CEO, WebCheckout

Despite being intrigued, I stayed cautious while the discussions persisted, and the relationship grew. In the interim, some of my growth dreams materialized, some were elusive, and others transformed.

Eventually, I came to believe that our best bet to achieve these aspirations was to strengthen at the top.


The decision to sell - joining Volaris Group.

Our investment team decided to sell to Volaris Group in early 2017, closing in June of that year - the relationship is exactly what I was looking for in a business partner:

•  Devoted to fostering an entrepreneurial culture
•  Enthusiastic to help strategize our growth initiatives and win new business
•  Committed to optimizing our functional departments like sales and marketing
•  Invested in talent development and professional growth opportunities
•  A bonus - the Volaris network

"From the very onset, I had access to countless leaders across our portfolio and throughout the other companies within Volaris; all of whom were willing to invest in my success. They never failed to offer advice and assistance or to share best practices and proven procedures."

-- Eric Dodson, President & CEO, WebCheckout

From virtual meetings to in-person events, Volaris has given us access to the power of human capital: knowledge-sharing & networking events, functional summits, seminars with industry experts, and more.

I am grateful to have access to a vast network of sharp, yet humble, people who have experience with the challenges I have faced – people who are always willing to help and on my team in a way I hadn’t anticipated.


What we learned post-acquisition.

We went through what are probably typical stages with joining the Volaris family: learning the Volaris way, questioning whether that always made sense for us, realizing it did - Volaris always has our best interest in mind, and embracing the tried-and-true system.

Any ‘change-over’ will present some challenges. We migrated our accounting system to the Volaris accounting standards and remodelled our set of metrics to measure the performance of our business. And instead of ‘shooting from the hip’, we pivoted towards a data-driven decision-making process. But we adapted and are now thriving.

As unique as we are, software companies are generally made up of the same pieces: sales, marketing, products, engineering, services, support, and back office. The Volaris methodology was not created in an ivory tower, but rather from wisdom gained by supporting hundreds of companies of different sizes and industries.


Post-acquisition - celebrating our 5th Anniversary.

A few months ago, I celebrated my fifth year as part of the Volaris family. Volaris has been a great home for us, offering a balance of a small, independent company feel with big company resources - we’ve grown tremendously while maintaining our culture and legacy:

•  We are empowered to pursue our roadmaps and strategies through decentralization and supported autonomy
•  We have access to best practices and a robust network of likeminded leaders
•  Our team is energized and executing our collectively created strategic goals
•  We all have very clear, measurable goals and professional development plans
•  Everyone has been rewarded as the company succeeded through the bonus plan
•  There has never been more alignment; both individually and as a team
•  And importantly, we have retained our company identity, culture, and people

Now achieving double-digit annual organic growth, we are proud of our successes and confident in our future.

"I am still in charge of the company and maintain autonomy on our go-forward strategy. Our direction hasn’t changed because we were acquired; rather, our goals are more concrete and aligned because we were acquired. I look forward to the next five years of our journey."

-- Eric Dodson, President & CEO, WebCheckout