In 2007, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky moved from New York to San Francisco. They couldn’t afford their rent because they had no current employment.
Knowing that a big design conference was coming to San Francisco, and hotels rooms were becoming increasingly hard to come by, they had a brainwave.
They created a simple website, airbedandbreakfast.com – and bought three air mattresses, and arranged them in their loft, offering conference goers a cheap place to sleep and a choice of their very own purpose-branded cereal; Obama O’s and Cap’n McCains breakfast cereal in the morning. This is where airbedandbreakfast was born.
Whilst they initially struggled to turn the idea into a fully operational business and got rejected multiple times from investors, they continued to push forward with the project and used the funding from their own breakfast cereal to generate a stream of income (worth $30,000) to keep the project going.
In March 2009, the company finally scrapped the Air Bed & Breakfast name and simplified it to Airbnb. After years of trial and testing, in 2011 they attracted the biggest Venture Capitalists in Silicon Valley, turning it into a ‘Unicorn’ which is a private start-up that is valued at over $1 billion.
Airbnb now has 7 million listings worldwide with accommodation in over 220 countries, and in September 2017 it was privately valued at $31 billion.