In our “What I Learned at…” series, MBAs discuss the tools and skills their business schools provided as they launched their careers.
mbaMission connected with Chris Brusznicki, founder of Gameday Housing, the leader in the sports vacation rental market. In Part 2 of this four-part series, Chris explains how his classes at Kellogg helped him make important changes in his business model.
In 2007, while still a student at the Kellogg School of Management, I saw the real estate bubble coming, just as we were building our own portfolio of rental houses at Gameday Housing. I began to question what the bursting of the bubble would mean for us and figured that there might be a lot of empty units in South Bend, where we had our homes. It occurred to me that we might be better off if we were not landlords renting our places, but were brokers renting others’ places on game days. We started to build a portfolio of rental homes that we did not own in 2008, and every weekend of the season, we rented them out through a centralized booking system on our Web site.
This transition seemed easy in hindsight, but at Kellogg, I was taking strategy courses, particularly “Management & Strategy” with Tom Hubbard, which helped me really contemplate the changes that we were making to our model. My core marketing curriculum seemed to constantly challenge our emerging needs—such as, what rate should our commission be for our brokerage? I remember taking a class on couponing, and soon after, we were considering whether we should use a coupon to help bring new renters on board. In fact, Hershey’s came and did a marketing “lunch and learn,” at which they discussed coupon theory and pricing, and it helped me feel certain of my decisions. The whole thing was organic—it seems staged in hindsight, but when you are at business school running a business, it is inevitable that the choices you are facing will appear in one way or another in your studies. I had the benefit of being able to learn and apply learning in real time during my (full-time) MBA, which made my experience all the more meaningful.