|Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, USA|
|Acquisition Date: March 2017|
|Vertical Market: Higher Education|
It was the late 1990s when a group of talented developers-for-hire took on a new project, creating a campus-wide equipment and scheduling management solution for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The result? WebCheckout – a robust software solution designed to handle the full lifecycle of an equipment circulation program. That’s everything from scheduling, budgeting, and acquisition, to tracking use and eventual decommissioning.
By the year 2000, the team transitioned their business from ad-hoc development work to bringing WebCheckout to the broader market. Today, WebCheckout serves over 300 academic institutions around the world and has expanded to support private corporations, including many entities in the broadcast and production arena.
“I knew we had something really great in WebCheckout but felt like we needed a catalyst – some fresh strategic perspective and a push in the right direction – to see the break-through levels of growth I thought were possible.”
- Eric Dodson, CEO, Webcheckout, Inc.
The Decision to Sell
For 17 years, majority owner Eric Dodson and WebCheckout’s other shareholders poured their hearts, souls, and, at some points, wallets into their business. They had come a long way since their start as developers-for-hire and, in 2017, began thinking about what was next - next for the business and next for each of them.
While each of the shareholders had different ambitions, what they all agreed upon was that WebCheckout had a strong foundation and a bright future of growth ahead if they could find the right investor. They were ready to de-risk and, for several shareholders, retire or move on to their next endeavor.
When Eric thought about what a third-party investment in WebCheckout would look like, he knew it was going to be about more than just dollars. Eric planned to continue leading the business. He wanted to ensure WebCheckout’s brand and culture would remain intact and that the investor would be able to infuse fresh ideas and proven best practices into the business and its employees.
“When it came to evaluating acquirers, what really stood out about Volaris was their approach. Sure, they were going to want a return, they were going to want to see our profitability increase, but they weren’t going to hang us out to dry. They were going to help nurture and grow our business and our employees.”
- Eric Dodson, CEO, Webcheckout, Inc.
Since its acquisition by Volaris Group in 2018, Webcheckout has achieved double-digit annual organic growth, enhanced their solution, and continued to see profitability increase over time. For Eric, this is exactly what he was hoping for: retaining the freedom to run Webcheckout while accelerating growth and strengthening the business with the resources, support, and strategic know-how of an organization like Volaris Group. Eric is quick to point out that this support and know-how doesn’t just come from Volaris leadership but from all of the talented leaders and professionals at the companies within the group.
Some of the greatest benefits Eric has seen since joining Volaris Group have to do with personnel and talent development. Gaining immediate access to in-house specialists in the areas of human resources, legal, and IT have bolstered the Webcheckout organization. More strategic attention can now be paid to these areas which allows Webcheckout’s leadership team to continue focusing on their own day-to-day responsibilities.
Webcheckout has also evolved in the areas of sales and marketing. They recently added a marketing analyst to their team and Eric says he “can’t imagine going back to not having in-house marketing support.” By networking with other marketers across the portfolio, Webcheckout’s new marketing analyst has been able to bring her own creative ideas, as well as other teams’ best practices to Webcheckout. Pair that with their new sales team member and Eric says, “Webcheckout is experiencing a much more stable and predictable sales funnel.”
As for Eric, he has appreciated the opportunities to continue to learn and grow as a leader. Eric acknowledges that “Volaris doesn’t tell you what to do or what not to do. When you have an idea, they ask ‘Why?’ and ‘What’s that going to do?’…they make you think more deeply and in different ways.” For Eric, this encouragement, along with the frameworks and benchmarking to aid strategic decision-making, and the networking events have been great. When reflecting on company-wide events like Volaris 101 or Volaris Quadrants, Eric says, “They’re not just seminars with someone talking at you. They’re opportunities to interact with people, people who are on your same team, who want to share ideas, keep in touch, and help each other get better.”