I am thrilled and happy to announce that tomorrow I will start working for Airbnb! Whoever has talked to me in the last months got first hand proof that I was really excited about this company. I reached out to them and the ink under our contract just dried a few days ago. I will be building Airbnb in Spain, the world’s No. 4 tourist destination!
Here are a few things I love about Airbnb:
1) It fixed my problem. In the last year I have been on the road a lot. I put my Berlin apartment on Airbnb and rented it out to people coming to visit, mostly for a period of 3-5 days. I got a lot of requests and over the “summer” (may - september) my place was rented out 80% of the time. Guests were generally amazing and caring so after some worries at the beginning I felt really at ease and safe once I saw that the system worked.
2) I love the economics of the model. It provides great value for travelers and great value for hosts. For travelers it provides amazing places for unbeatable prices. Just look at all the rooms and apartments you can rent all over the world and compare them to hotel prices in the same cities. You can stay with five people for as little as 89 € at my place. Try to get a decent hotel room for that price in Berlin.
To hosts it provides a great way to earn some money with spare space, no matter if it is the whole place, a room or some space on the floor, you can rent out anything that accommodates a person for a night. Actually there is a guy who rents out his car :).
3) Airbnb is a design driven company. I think one thing that sets many American tech companies apart from European ones is the excellence in product design. Apple is the obvious leader in class but there are many more companies who produce around great design, e.g. Square, Vimeo, Tumblr AND Airbnb.
The company was started by two design dudes so you can really see and feel that they care about a great look and feel and user experience in general. In my former company,Young Internet, I came to believe that for kids every click needs to be a fun experience and I believe the same goes for grown ups. I think Airbnb has done a very good job here and keeps on improving.
4) Hospitality Exchange has been my way of traveling for a long time. Since my brother Veit started HospitalityClub in 2000 I travelled a lot by staying at other people’s places. In the last years traveling became less frequent so I started hosting a lot of people here in Berlin.
Now while staying through HospitalityClub or Couchsurfing has the advantage of being completely for free, it does require some time to arrange the accommodation with the hosts. You need to send mails to many of them before you close a couch. Since I started working, time is more of an issue than before but I didn’t want to give up this way of traveling.
Enter Airbnb. Airbnb gives me the possibility to stay with people and get the local perspective or just stay at their awesome places. For me it is the obvious sequel to 10 years of couchsurfing.
5) The story. Airbnb is a problem turned solution turned company. The beginning was the founders problem to pay the rent for their apartment. They came up with the idea to rent out some space on the floor during a conference and turned this into a solution for everybody with the same problem. I think this story is really strong because it shows how simple the approach to building something meaningful can be. It all starts with a problem.
I am very happy to be part of this and look forward to an amazing journey!
A few months back I read the great book Delivering Happiness by co-founder of online shoe shop Zappos, Tony Hsieh. It is an inspiring story of his path as an entrepreneur and the development of Zappos from a company that sells shoes to one that is all about creating an extraordinary customer experience. There is a lot about the truly unique culture at Zappos (where new hires get an offer of 2k USD to leave the company after the initiation process in order to keep only the ones who really want to stay) but also the connection of personal happiness, happiness in your job and the happiness this creates for customers. The economic sensibility of the whole approach is arguable and Germany based shoe shop Zalando has managed to get to a comparable size as Zappos within three years in the German market. Nevertheless I am a fan of this approach because it works in the long run and I am sure they will be able to use the strong connection built with their customers for other products. Tony Hsieh is working on building an airline now :).