People who overcame hardships and persevered despite all odds are the most inspiring stories of entrepreneurship. Although Rags-to Riches stories have been around since the inception of businesses, they continue to resonate with budding entrepreneurs who are ready to leap. This inspiring story of a successful startup serves to educate, inspire, and encourage young entrepreneurs who are looking to start their businesses.
The Birth of Air Bed & Breakfast
The founders, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia moved to San Francisco in 1995. They couldn’t afford to rent their San Francisco apartment. They needed extra cash so they rented their living room as a bed-and-breakfast to friends who couldn’t afford a hotel room for events.
The idea of creating an app to help people find accommodation all over the globe was born.
Airbnb, an online platform for renting vacation rooms with more than 4 million hosts and 54 million active bookings, could offer a cheaper way to stay abroad than traditional lodging options. It would also allow people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to travel the world. Their idea grew and became the website that is the ticket for everyday travelers to explore the world. It was just an idea without funding before it revolutionized modern travel.
Creative Fundraising That Worked
The trio came up with something very ingenious to sell to finance their initial idea. The three roommates sold special-edition cereals they created during the Presidential election between Barack Obama & John McCain. The three roommates created their cereals called “Obama O’s”, and “Cap’n McCains”. They sold them online and at rallies. Their ideas needed to be creative in order to succeed with crowdfunding.
These limited-edition “collector’s items” sold more than $30,000 in total sales. This money was used by the roommates to launch Airbnb. It was used for startup costs like website design, marketing campaigns, and licensing. Although the money raised successfully got Airbnb off the ground, the three entrepreneurs weren’t at the top of their game.
A Rocky Start
As many startups experienced, Airbnb’s initial launch was a disaster. It wasn’t generating enough buzz or getting enough media attention, and soon its revenue dropped to $200 per week. This was losing them cash after production costs and a three-way split among each founder. The fledgling company was not being taken seriously by investors, so the three founders were forced to max their credit cards to keep the idea alive.
Airbnb finally gained footing, and Paul Graham, the co-founder of Y Combinator, agreed to fund their idea with a $20,000 investment. This opened up the possibility to attract more investors.
Two other investors invested $600,000 in the company and they were soon on their path to becoming a reality. However, not everyone was convinced. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures rejected an investment opportunity. This mistake he later regretted.
However, the difficulties did not end with funding. Airbnb faced several safety issues after a guest robbed his house. This scare hampered the business and led to hundreds of people quitting using the service.
Airbnb and its investors were unable to solve this problem and so they came up with several solutions. These are listed on their Safety FAQs page. They have created solutions that include identity verifications, profile creation, a review system, and protection for guests with the Host Warranty program.
From Failing Startup To Multibillion Dollar Business
The founders were able to focus their efforts on introducing people to Airbnb after they had covered all the bases. Although it was risky, the founders were able to make a significant profit by using Craigslist, a well-known housing site, to promote their business.
Craigslist was their ideal audience, people who wanted to find accommodations that were not hotels for their travels.
Airbnb used a complicated strategic move to direct users to their website instead of Craigslist. People who found Airbnb used it over Craigslist because they had better photos and more detailed descriptions of the properties. This campaign strategy drove tons of traffic to Airbnb, greatly assisting in its huge-scale success.
The founders of Airbnb started brainstorming ways to make their site more popular after it began growing its audience. The founders decided to make Airbnb more accessible to people in cities all over the globe and to broaden its capabilities beyond housing. They wanted to assist users at every stage of travel and changed the focus of the website to provide affordable housing, but now they offer all-inclusive hospitality services.
Brian Chesky, who was driven by the desire to make Airbnb a top-notch customer service place, was the driving force behind this initiative. Two new programs were created by the company, Neighborhoods, and Local Lounges. They show the area around the location that they are interested in using photos and city mapping. This allows them to showcase the beauty and hidden gems of the city while still being honest about the actual city.
These programs have fueled Airbnb’s already-established platform as a destination for authentic experiences abroad. They also continue to increase Airbnb’s appeal to customers.
Learn From Airbnb’s Success
Airbnb today is valued at $25 billion. It caters to more than 60 million people in 190 countries. They are known for their innovative website design, their determination to not give up despite hardships, and their entrepreneurial thinking outside the box.
Although they made some mistakes, the founders of Airbnb were successful with their unique strategy. Their success is not the only story of Airbnb’s startup success. Every entrepreneur can adapt Airbnb’s techniques to suit their needs.
Airbnb was the first company to put its customers first. Airbnb wasn’t just about making a profit for the three founders. It started as a way for people to travel more easily.
Airbnb has been in business for eight years and has always put customers’ needs first. This is why its website design has been as simple as possible throughout its eight-year history. They outperformed Priceline’s competitors by making their website more user-friendly, modernizing it, and removing unnecessary page fillers.
Airbnb was second in that it found its niche in an established (but still stagnant) industry. Craigslist was already an established site offering accommodation alternatives to hotels. But the founders of Airbnb did not let that stop them.
Instead of getting discouraged, they discovered what Craigslist was lacking (such as high-quality photos) and created Airbnb to address these gaps. They are always looking for ways to differentiate their brand, such as providing maid service.
The founders of Airbnb did not give up. They took the negative news with a positive attitude and made their mistakes into fuel for future success. They did everything they could to get their idea off the ground and continued to work hard even when investors refused to invest in it.
Entrepreneurship is not without its risks. How you respond to these challenges will make you stand out and determine your path to success.