What Really Came Of Rent Like A Champion From Shark Tank?

Have you ever traveled to watch your favorite college football team but found all the accommodations booked up or wildly expensive? That's exactly the problem that Rent Like a Champion founders set out to solve. When CEO Mike Doyle and co-founder Drew Mitchell appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2015, Rent Like A Champion had already been running as a successful vacation rental business for nine years.

The original co-founders, Drew, Derrick Shenk, and Jordan Curnes, came up with the idea when they were students in South Bend, Indiana. In 2006, they listed a vacant apartment they owned on eBay and Craigslist as a weekend rental for football games when the local University of Notre Dame was playing. The rental was snapped up, and a business was born. 

Mike Doyle met Drew at Notre Dame and turned down a job offer at Target to join Rent Like A Champion as CEO. He immediately began the process of expanding to other football college towns, starting with Penn State. If you think this sounds like Airbnb, you're right. But Rent Like A Champion started about a year and a half before Airbnb came onto the scene.

In an interview with Shark Tank Blog, Drew and Mike talked of their excitement before taping the show and how they prepared their website for an influx of traffic. What really set Mike's heart racing was hearing that Chris Sacca was going to be the guest Shark for their taping. Mike not only admired Chris but also knew that he regretted passing on investing in Airbnb. The stage was set.

Rent Like A Champion on Shark Tank

In Season 7, Episode 6 of "Shark Tank," Drew and Mike pitched Rent Like A Champion to the Sharks, asking for $200,000 in exchange for 10% equity. Drew and Mike began by setting the scene of a crisp fall day watching your college team win by a touchdown with your family beside you. Football fans would be hard-pressed to find a better way to spend their weekend. They contrasted that with the feeling of returning to a soulless hotel with everyone heading to their own rooms.

The pitchers then threw out facts such as: In the previous year, 49 million Americans had traveled to watch a college football game, with 70% of those fans in need of a place to stay. Inevitably, the Sharks had concerns about rambunctious football fans trashing the homes they stayed in, which sent Shark Lori Greiner out. Drew and Mike also explained what set their company apart from Airbnb: They concentrated on underserved college towns with a focus on the event, rather than the destination.

After assurance from the founders about low damage claims, three Sharks offered their investment. In the end, the Rent Like A Champion pitchers walked away with the $200,000 for 10% equity they'd asked for from Sharks Mark Cuban and Chris Sacca. Score!

What happened next

In Season 8 of "Shark Tank," a follow-up episode aired with Drew and Mike at a tailgate party in Auburn, Alabama. Investor Sharks Chris and Mark turned up to check out the promotional party and celebrate the business they'd invested in. In just one year, the business had grown enormously. As Mike said, the year before "Shark Tank," they had done $2.3 million in sales; in the year after the Sharks came on board, they did $5.46 million in sales.

Speaking to the camera, Mike said that Mark helped take the backend operations of the business off their plates, while Chris had been urging them to look for new markets to expand into. And expand they did. They continued to provide vacation rentals in college football towns but also broadened their offerings to become official partners with six PGA gold tournaments, offering accommodations to players, caddies, and tournament sponsors.

Can you still Rent Like A Champion?

Absolutely! Go to the Rent Like A Champion website to see what they have to offer. In August, we decided to check out how it worked and searched for "Auburn, Alabama." The platform impressed us by returning results sorted by local colleges and showing the date of their next game. University of Massachusetts was playing on September 2, and there were nine available rentals; for the game at OleMiss on October 21, there were six available rentals.

Customers love Rent Like A Champion, too. It has a 4.9/5 rating on Facebook and Google. Reviewers comment on the proximity of the homes to the sporting event, and many write that they'll be back or have already rented with the company several times. People who use the site also like the clean interface and how easy it is to use.

The company has continued to expand. In August 2021, Rent Like A Champion had 3,000 homes in over 27 towns and was offering accommodations near Nascar events as well as football and golf games. By October 2022, the company's annual revenue was $12.6 million.

Where are they now?

The founders and early directors of Rent Like A Champion have moved on from the day-to-day management of the company. Derrick, Drew, and Mike are all on the board of the company, though Rent Like A Champion has a new CEO: Dave Longwell.

In addition to being on the board, Mike co-founded Off Map in 2020, a glamping resort in southwest Michigan, and has been the Development Manager of Holladay Properties since January 2023. Drew also works for Holladay Properties and leads the Chicago office. He is also on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement Chicago, Indian Boundary YMCA, and the Westmont Chamber of Commerce.

Derrick is the CEO of Mobile Generation LLC, a Verizon Wireless Retailer based in Chicago. Jordan Curnes is no longer with Rent Like A Champion, but he has kept busy as a co-founder of IrishAngels, an angel investment group, and MicroTransponder, a medical company in the neuroscience field, of which he is President and COO.