Airbnb a short term rentals company is a classic Silicon Valley story of bootstrapping, rejection and eventually success. Brian Chesky and his co-founder, Joe Gebbia, decided to start a company, and they moved to San Francisco. There were just two little problems: They didn’t really have a startup idea and they didn’t have the rent money. There was a design conference in the city, and there were no hotel rooms for rent.

Joe and Brian thought, it would be cool to rent air mattresses to conference visitors and make enough cash from that to make rent. Three people bought into the idea. That little idea turned into what is now AirBnB. Today Airbnb has over 110,000 unique listings available in more than 13,000 cities and 181 countries. The company has raised $7.8 million from Sequoia Capital and Greylock Partners and recently received $100M in Unattributed funding.

Here are the things I think you should copy from Airbnb. Brian Chesky, Founder/CEOof shared these lessons in various interviews.

  1. Being broke brings an incredible amount of discipline and focus.
  2. What your company does in its childhood has a big impact on its future.
  3. In solving your own problems, you solve problems for other people, and through this, an opportunity often arises.
  4. Don’t give up when you reach a pivotal success/failure point in your company’s life.
  5. Preserve your company’s culture by hiring similarly passionate, ambitious people.
  6. Don’t give up when you experience your trough of sorrow moment.
  7. For Airbnb, it was all about figuring out how to make the experience less awkward.
  8. You don’t have to be a programmer to make it big in the Valley.
  9. What makes Chesky succeed is his drive to create the perfect user experience and his ideology that every problem has a creative solution on the other side of it.
  10. It’s one thing to technically build our web site—that’s the easy part. Get the marketplace going, get traction, and build a community—that’s the hard part.
  11. Go out and meet your users. Talk to them, understand them.
  12. It just seemed a very good sign to me that these guys were actually on the ground in NYC hunting down (and understanding) their users.On top of several previous good signs- Paul Graham
  13. We literally would fly to New York every Thursday or Friday during Y Combinator. We did this every week and we would be there throughout the weekend.
  14. There were a myriad of tactics we used—we went as far as knocking on people’s doors.
  15. Because of the Democratic National Conventions, some people were using the site in New York and listing places. What we would do is reach out to the very few people we had and basically talk to them, get to know them, figure out what products they needed and what we could offer them.
  16. We tried to build loyalty knowing that if we did that, they would tell their friends.
  17. We’d host parties and meetups and all sorts of different things. We’d just visit all of our users, we’d go to their homes and talk to them and do interviews.
  18. Through that process, they’d get very excited and tell their friends about Airbnb. It was mostly about generating as much buzz and excitement to get them to tell their friends about us.
  19. Press was always the number one tactic for us. The press would spark another group of users, then we’d go visit those people and talk to them and get them excited. It was a pattern that repeated itself.
  20. We have an open floor plan. We have a weekly product meeting and a weekly engineering meeting. There may be daily meetings, but those are impromptu for a few minutes where you just huddle together over a computer and call that a product meeting.
  21. Keeping the culture—if you’re growing quickly, there’s going to be a point where a majority of the people in the room are not going to know much about your company.

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