Bounce Back to Success, Advises Keynote Entrepreneur

April 10, 2012

Jack DeBoerJack DeBoer"When you stop making mistakes you're in trouble," lodging innovator/ entrepreneur Jack DeBoer told 200 Isenberg students on April 5. "Entrepreneurs pursue opportunities beyond their resources. They consistently calculate and recalculate risk. The trick is to stay in business long enough until you get lucky."



DeBoer was Isenberg's Department of Hospitality & Tourism Management's Spring Keynote Speaker. The author of Risk only Money, he is a founder of the extended-stay hotel business model. His current venture, Value Place, comprises 175 extended-stay lodging centers in 30 states. Before founding Value Place in 2003, he created and developed three hotel chains--Residence Inn, Summerfield Suites, and Candlewood Suites, which he sold to Marriott, Hyatt, and Intercontinental Hotels.


"I never built a hotel in my life that didn't have a kitchen," DeBoer told the students. "In business, you need to follow the rules but you also need to think outside the box." That was true for DeBoer back in 1975, when he pioneered the first Residence Inn all-suite hotel. And likewise with Value Place, a hybrid venture that succeeds both as a low-cost extended-stay hotel and as a temporary apartment/residence.


His current venture's own successful value proposition offers customers no-frills extended lodgings that are, in De Boer's words, "super-clean" and "super-safe." "There's no eye candy; no pool; no free breakfast," he told the students. To keep floors clean and bug-free, Value Place has made beds easier to move and replaced rugs with sound-proof tiles that look like wood.


Echoing his book's title, DeBoer insisted, "Money is the only thing you can risk and get back. It's fungible. Don't risk your name, your reputation, your health, or your personal relationships. I came to understand that when my business got into trouble years ago, because I still had my wife, my health, my family, my energy, and the respect of others. When I finally got it together, I realized that it's no sin to ask for help and important to live your life with people who challenge you. It's no sin to fail.


"Watch out for the person who refuses to accept blame," he continued. "Honesty and truth are easy. So invest in personal relations--honestly.  And when you do succeed, transition from success to significance."  DeBoer walks that talk through his ardent support for the international children's relief organization World Vision and his own philanthropic work on behalf of Burmese children and their families.