When design graduates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia moved from NYC to San Fran in 2007, their plan had one major flaw: they needed jobs to pay the rent. Quick thinking was required. Better still, a lightbulb moment!
💡Knowing that all hotel rooms in the city were booked for a conference, they bought three air mattresses, set up a simple site and charged $80 a night. Just like that, their first guests were born: an Indian man, a Boston woman and a father from Utah.
Soon after, former roommate Nathan Blecharczyk jumped on board, working his genius on the website. So, they re-launched, this time at SXSW. But alas, they only had two users, Chesky being one. Something wasn’t working.
In 2008, they decided to redesign the user experience. They launched again (yep!) during the Democratic National Convention. This time 600 event-goers booked! Quite impressive, but success was short-lived.
To stay afloat, they designed their own pre-election cereals: Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains. They glued the boxes and filled them with cheap store cereal. Sounds bat crazy, but it made them a whopping $30,000.
Quickly, they capitalized on this success and managed to raise their first funding of $20,000! Afterwards, they visited every user in NYC, going door-to-door taking better photos of listings.
By March 2009, their website—Airbnb–had 2500 listings. Of course, today you can add four zeros to that. And 81,000 cities. Every 2 seconds someone books an Airbnb. Maybe you’re reading this from yours!
A MAGICAL RECIPE
When they first moved to San Fran, Chesky and Gebbia had no other choice but to make it work. Since giving up was not an option, extreme ingenuity coupled with tenacity were the only way out. This magical recipe took Airbnb out of its tough beginnings to make it what it is today. What’s your magical recipe?
© Story by Tarek Issa.