“Creativity is the solution to all problems”- Brian Chesky , co Founder and CEO at Airbnb
For those who don’t know, Airbnb is an online marketplace where people can lease or rent short term lodging. The $31 billion company does not own any lodging but is merely a broker.
So how did two unemployed friends(3 founder joining a little later) became the founders of a billion dollar company.
The story starts at Rhode Island School of Design where Brian Chesky met Joe Gebbia. On the day of graduation Joe says to him ‘Brian, one day we are going to be entrepreneurs’. A few years passed and one day in 2007 both of them quit their jobs and decide to start a company together. With absolutely no business idea and a $1000 in bank account and a sleeping bag Brian drove to San Francisco. Turned out the rent for Joe’s apartment was $1150. Strangled with debt they thought of an idea to provide accommodation in their apartment to people coming for a IDSA( Industrial Designers Society Of America )conference in town at the rates that were far less than an hotel. In 24 hours they built a website called Airbedandbreakfast.com and mailed the top design bloggers and in overnight Airbed and breakfast was at the top of the blogger’s page.
An idea that came 48 hours ago to save them from cash crunch was now live on the internet. To their surprise people from all over the world were writing to them. Finally 3 people who came to attend the conference , one of whom was an Indian slept on the airbeds in their living room and became their first guest.
It was then that it struck Brian what if you could book someone’s home the way you book a hotel anywhere in the world.
In 2008 they incorporated the company as Airbed and breakfast. They even called upon their “former roommate ” and “brilliant engineer” Nathan Blecharczyk, to join as the third co-founder of the new venture. To fund the site they created special edition breakfast cereals with presidential candidates Obama and John McCain as the box designs. At $40 a box they generated $30,000 for company’s incubation. All of this created a buzz and in 2009 Y Combinator invested a whooping $20000 in the company as an initial investment ( they had joined Y Combinator’s 2009 Winter Class) . They were further funded by SEQUOIA CAPITAL . The name was now changed to Airbnb and it offered not only rooms and apartments but also castles, manors, boats, tree houses, private island and even an IGLOO, yes you heard it right.
Today Airbnb is the No.1 lodging website in UK. Many people who were on the brink of losing their homes through foreclosure due to financial hardship, have come to depend on Airbnb for additional income. It can be said that it has been a blessing in disguise to various people out there , just as it was one for the founders who got to live their “one day” dream by solving an intricate problem .
but you need to know that the story was not as rosy as it seems and many a days they had to live on cereals only
This is a GUEST BLOG written by my best friend Umang Mittal who like me is a huge startup enthusiast . And edited by me! I hope you enjoyed reading it and came to know the story that you might have wondered about !
Waiting for your views and comments!