Episode 53 – AirBNB & Travel

The Episode:

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The Story:

In 2007, two graphic designers were having troubles making ends meet in their San Francisco apartment. They had some space that they could free up in the loft which they thought they could use to accommodate travellers, and thought about putting it on Craigslist, but they thought it was too impersonal. Instead, they decided to create a website, offering people passing through a chance to stay cheaply on some air mattresses and eat a home-cooked breakfast. Pretty soon they were receiving emails asking when the service would be available in Buenos Aires, London and Tokyo, and they began to formulate a vision.

They contacted their old roommate, an engineer, to join the team. In a clever move to raise funding for the project, they designed custom boxes for cereal to appeal to voters in the upcoming election, selling 500 boxes of both Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains for $40 each, raising $30,000.


Inviting the hosts to share their listings on Craigslist helped build their guest numbers and traffic considerably, as did spamming existing listings on Craigslist for similar properties. Then by developing their philosophy of offering personalised service, hospitality and something that guests just couldn’t find in a traditional hotel, they solidified their place as a key player in the accommodation industry.

Today, millions of people use AirBNB to travel cheaply, and to make money, subverting the conventional model of tourism and helping people to enjoy cities in a friendlier way. How has this business opened up the world to travellers, making it more affordable and interesting? What is the value of travel in general? Why do some people resist travelling adamantly? We explore these questions and more, in the next breathtaking chapter of … The Paradise Paradox!

The Links:

Into the Wild – movie

Into the Wild – book

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated)

Growth study – AirBNB

How AirBNB started