While everyone has heard of Airbnb, not everyone has heard what the “bnb” part means. It stands for “Bed and Breakfast.” This may come as a surprise to some readers, because, as those who’ve had an Airbnb experience and can testify, breakfast is not a normal part, nor is it an expectation, of a typical Airbnb stay.
When I read the story of Airbnb’s founding, I was surprised that some enterprising entrepreneur hadn’t run with the concept earlier. I mean, it’s brilliant!
It all started . . .
It all started in 2007, when college buddies Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia came up the idea of creating a “bed and breakfast” in their small San Francisco apartment by renting out a simple air mattress on the living room floor. As everyone knows, San Francisco has a reputation for being overly-crowded and not having an adequate inventory of affordable lodging solutions. Realizing they had likely tapped into a gold mine opportunity in the hospitality industry, the friends turned their concept into a business and launched a company called AirBed & Breakfast.
Soon after hosting their first paying customers, and with a functional website in place, the friends further developed the idea by attending business start-up workshops at the 2008 Industrial Design Conference. It was there that they attracted the interest of investors at Y-Combinator, a startup incubator training program sponsored by computer programmer Paul Graham. The folks at Y-Combinator were intrigued with the AirBed & Breakfast concept and, in exchange for a small stake in the company, Y-Combinator provided $20,000 of seed capital to take the venture to the next level.
Less than a year later, the company had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings. A decade later, over 2 million people were staying with Airbnb each night.
Airbnb is unique in the hospitality industry. It competes with hotels, but it owns no hotels. Instead, the company acts has a broker, matching vacation property owners with willing renters. That’s it! And although COVID-19 affected its operations, it didn’t paralyze the company. When the virus hit, CEO Brian Chesky let 1,900 of its employees go of the total 7,500 workforce.
Give your little ideas serious thought!
So, the next time you come up with a little idea, like renting the air mattress, give it some serious thought! It just might be the next billion-dollar solution!