Entrepreneur Matt Ehrlichman founded his first company, All Star Camps, as a freshman at Shorecrest High School in Seattle. “In the first summer, it was a small multi-sports camp for my brother (who is 10 years younger than me). It went well and I expanded it quickly from there,” he recalled.
All Star Camps grew to have multiple sites across Western Washington for kids first through sixth grade. “I grew All Star Camps through my freshman year at Stanford,” Ehrlichman said. “I then started my second company, CampRegister.com, to provide technology to help summer camps like mine take online registrations and manage their events business.”
That company, which became Thriva, was bought by San Diego-based Active Network about three-and-a-half years later.
“CampRegister rebranded to Thriva in order to take the technology we had built for summer camps into other markets such as corporate events, sports leagues, and school events,” he explained. “Thriva scaled rapidly as we ramped up our sales team and provided a flexible web-based software package for a large number of businesses. Our primary competitor at that time was Active Network. We had met their team years earlier when CampRegister was only a year old. But years later, we reconnected and it was the right time to sell Thriva and join the Active Network team to build that company together.”
Once he sold his company, Ehrlichman became Chief Strategy Officer of Active for five years until founding another company in his hometown of Seattle – Porch.
Below, he talks about his career-defining experience at Active, why he moved back to Seattle, and his company’s recent acquisition of Oceanside-based HireAHelper. See how things come full circle?
Active Years: After selling Thriva to Active Network, Ehrlichman worked at the company for five years as part of the leadership team. “It was an incredible experience working with an amazing group of people. I learned so much about leading and growing a complex business, financing, M&A, and putting together the right people to solve hard problems. Active had an incredible run, but the capper to my experience was when we took the company public and celebrated with the team at the New York Stock Exchange.”
“I learned everything at Active – how to build and motivate a team, how to organize the business, how to think about where to invest, how to build products, how to finance the business, and much more,” he added. “I feel grateful for my experience with both Thriva and Active, and the people who helped me when I was a kid (I was a lot less smart than I thought).”
Lifestyle: “Active was filled with special people,” Ehrlichman said. “Active was grown in part through a number of acquisitions, and as such had different offices with different cultures. It was fun to see a central value about living a healthy lifestyle spread across the offices and make a big impact on lives.”
Porch: After his time at Active, the serial entrepreneur knew he wanted to build another business. “I wasn’t immediately sure what the industry would be or the problem to solve, but I knew I wanted to build a great business, a household brand, and make a dent in the world,” said Ehrlichman, who launched Porch in Seattle, which is where both he and his wife were born and raised. “I started the process of building a home with my wife and it was the classic entrepreneurial moment – experience personal pain, realize it should be better, and set out to change it. Porch has scaled quickly and we have a number of people who worked with me at CampRegister, Thriva, and Active who are a part of building this company.”
Two other Active alumni who have worked at Porch include the company’s Co-Founder Jake Cooney, former Senior Web Designer at Active, and Chris Bohnert, who joined Porch after being General Manager at Active, and who is now Senior VP, Product at San Diego-based GovX, which also includes several Active alumni.
Porch has built a unique company in the home services space. “We help homeowners through the journey of their home – from the move through ongoing repairs and maintenance,” Ehrlichman said. “We provide a Home Assistant who will help make your move easy from coordinating movers to getting your utilities set up. And once you are in your home, we’ll help you with every project you have around your house.”
San Diego Ties: Earlier in 2019, Porch acquired Oceanside-based HireAHelper which allows consumers to compare local movers in order to get the best deal – all online.
Ehrlichman said HireAHelper is a great fit for Porch. “It is a fabulous team that fits right into Porch’s values and strategy. HireAHelper is the largest and best provider of moving labor. So for anyone who is moving, rather than breaking your back carrying the couch up the stairs, they provide top-rated and guaranteed movers around the country at very affordable prices. Today, Porch is the Home Assistant for about 20% of all US homebuyers every month. Before HireAHelper, Porch didn’t effectively help with moving labor, but together we now delight our collective customers.”
Since the acquisition, Porch has expanded HireAHelper’s services from moving labor to now helping with any type of move. “Through partnerships with the top truck and storage brands, we now can help with any type of full service, intrastate, or local moves – all with unbelievably high satisfaction ratings and guaranteed,” Ehrlichman said.
While he’s not moving from Seattle anytime soon, Ehrlichman is happy to be back in San Diego for occasional site visits.
“It was fun and very familiar when I recently flew into the San Diego airport to visit the HireAHelper team,” he said. “I look forward to spending more time back down in the beautiful San Diego area.”
Editor’s Note: This is part 10 in a series about the early pioneers of online race and activity registration, the subsequent companies they went on to create and run, and how they are still “active” in the San Diego tech ecosystem. Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8 , Part 9 & Part 11.