I am so impressed with the journey of Joe Gebbia. He is the co-founder of Airbnb but when I heard the story of how he got there, I couldn’t stop smiling.
I was listening to him chat with Tim Ferriss. Joe mentioned that he had convinced his buddy Brian, who he had been in contact with since leaving school at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), to move from LA to San Francisco so that they might start some kind of business together. A few days after Brian arrived at Joe’s apartment, after quitting his job, and packing his life into his Honda Civic, Joe got a letter from his landlord saying their rent would be 25% higher the following month. And neither of them had the money to cover it.
Joe always read the daily paper. He noticed that a big design convention was coming to San Francisco two weeks later and all the hotels were sold out. So, he asked his new roommate if they could blow up an air mattress and offer a place to stay for some of the delegates. Brian agreed. They got two more air mattresses, made a website called Air Bed and Breakfast, and sent it to bloggers who were covering the event. The bloggers shared the link to their website and the calls started coming in. After going through all the interested customers, they hosted three folks, a father of five, a male student, and a single woman. Joe and Brian cooked meals for their guests and brought them to local spots for food and fun. They even got a few minutes at the conference to share their story and pulled their guests up on stage to explain why they loved the experience.
And that was the beginning of Airbnb. They started as a way to make that month’s rent. Now they are billionaires.
Although it didn’t really get going until the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver when Obama was drawing huge crowds. Once again, all the hotels were sold out so Joe and Brian decided they had a solution for that problem. But they couldn’t get any media coverage. CNN hung up on them. But then a blogger picked up the story. Which led to a local paper picking it up. Which led to a state paper. And then a local news station. And then a national news station. And then CNN called. Things really took off after that.
Joe lives by a formula he learned when he snuck in to hear a guest speaker at Brown University as a student at a neighbouring college. SW2 + WC = MO. This means when you come up with a new idea: some will like it and some won’t + who cares = move on.
I love that. You won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. You will hear no. You will fall and fail. But all those lessons will lead you to the exact spot you need to be. If you keep getting up. And moving on.
From an air mattress to luxury villas. The idea had to start somewhere. Where will you begin?