Como empreendedores inteligentes transformaram três colchões de ar no Airbnb, o site que faz de qualquer casa uma pousada – com Brian e Joe

Como empreendedores inteligentes transformaram três colchões de ar no Airbnb, o site que faz de qualquer casa uma pousada – com Brian e Joe

Como empreendedores inteligentes transformaram três colchões de ar no Airbnb, o site que faz de qualquer casa uma pousada - com Brian e Joe 1
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Introdução ao entrevistador: Antes de começarmos, preciso lhe dizer que a entrevista que você está prestes a assistir era um urso para editar. Você vai ter um pouco de soluços ao longo da entrevista. Mas eu lhe digo uma coisa; o conteúdo aqui era tão bom que eu não queria deixar esses caras fora do telefone. Ficamos mais tempo fora do telefone pelo Skype. Demoramos mais do que normalmente porque a qualidade era muito boa (a qualidade da informação, não a qualidade da conexão). De fato, preste atenção à história em série que eles contam em cerca de 40% da entrevista. Vocês vão adorar isso. Devo dizer que a edição e grande parte do trabalho aqui é patrocinada, paga e apoiada por essas três grandes empresas: A primeira é o Grasshopper, o sistema de telefonia virtual que os empreendedores adoram. Porque com o Grasshopper, você obtém as extensões e tudo o que deseja com um sistema telefônico robusto. Você pode gerenciá-lo online e usar um telefone comum com este sistema. Então confira Grasshopper.com.

Além disso, confira o Shopify.com. Porque, como você viu, muitos empresários aqui na Mixergy venderam coisas online. E, se você deseja começar a vender coisas diretamente para seus clientes, não apenas publicidade, mas produtos, consulte o Shopify.com. Eles criarão uma loja em questão de minutos. Cinco minutos foi o que me levou. Shopify.com.

Em terceiro lugar, quero falar sobre o Rich WB. Se você for para o Rich WB, receberá um novo tema para o seu site. Eu disse várias vezes que apenas resgatar e rescindir meu site me ajudou a conseguir entrevistas maiores e melhores. Porque comunicava autoridade e comunicava que eu era alguém com mais do que um pequeno e minúsculo blog. Então, confira Rich WB.com. Obtenha seu próprio tema, personalize-o e faça-o por sua conta. Vá lá e faça coisas incríveis para que eu possa voltar e entrevistar você.

Bem. Esses são os patrocinadores. Aqui está a entrevista.

Andrew: Hey, mundo, é Andrew Warner, fundador do Mixergy.com, lar do ambicioso iniciante. E, dos iniciantes cujo sistema continua tendo problemas. Mas, conseguimos trabalhar agora.

Andrew: Então, hoje eu tenho Brian Chesky e Joe Gibba. De fato, Brian, você pode levantar a mão para que as pessoas saibam quem você é? E, o outro cara de óculos bem ali, esse é Joe. Eles são os co-fundadores do Air B&B, um site que a Time Magazine chamou de “Ebay of space”. É um mercado on-line que permite que qualquer pessoa, de uma residência particular ou prosperidade comercial, alugue seu espaço extra. Quantas listagens vocês têm no site?

* Algum silêncio e riso dos três *

Uma das duas entrevistas: Então, sim, é … enquanto sabemos que não sabemos o número exato de listagens que temos, temos em 2.200 cidades e 110 países. E temos cerca de 75.000 viajantes em nosso site.

Andrew: Ok, 75.000 viajantes. Ou seja, pessoas que procuram lugares para ficar, certo?

Entrevistado: Certo.

Andrew: Está bem. Temos alguns problemas aqui. As pessoas que estão assistindo esse show estão me dizendo que é instável.

Andrew: Temos alguns problemas. Número um: está congelando aqui, e é por isso que estou usando este … este suéter excessivo aqui no verão de Buenos Aires.

*Riso*

Andrew: Número dois: Temos duas pessoas aqui na entrevista. O que eu realmente não faço muito. Mas, eu queria conhecer a empresa, o melhor possível. Existem três cofundadores, certo?

Entrevistado: Certo.

Andrew: E, hoje, estamos conhecendo dois. E, então, também há algum tipo de atraso. Mas, vamos trabalhar com isso, certo? É isso que significa ser um iniciante. Se fôssemos a CNBC, esse programa, não acho, teria tanto significado. Isso é um começo para ajudar outros iniciantes a construir seus negócios conversando com pessoas como você, que estão construindo algumas empresas interessantes e obtendo tração.

Andrew: O que me surpreendeu em vocês é a maneira como vocês resolvem o problema dos ovos e galinhas. Você sabe, você tem um site que deveria ter listagens para conseguir, uh … uh, viajantes. Deveria atrair viajantes para conseguir listagens. Então, eu quero saber como vocês fizeram e como fizeram tão bem. Esse é o número um.

Andrew: Número dois: todo mundo conhece meu fascínio por Y Combinator e tudo a ver com todo o ecossistema lá. Quero saber como vocês conquistaram o Y Combinator. Como você .. o que você conseguiu com isso além do dinheiro. E eu quero saber como isso ajudou você a construir a partir daí.

Andrew: Também estou fascinado com a forma como um site como o seu pode se destacar tanto! Quero dizer, eu vi você no New York Times. E então eu vi a Time Magazine no seu site. E então comecei a pesquisar e me deparei com o Washington Post. Então, eu fui à sua página de imprensa que tinha acabado de … * imita uma grande explosão com as mãos gesticulando * Então, há muito para cobrirmos aqui.

Andrew: Bem. Vamos voltar de onde veio essa ideia. Na conversa que tivemos antes do início da entrevista, você disse que começou na sua sala de estar. Em que ponto você e seu…

O entrevistado intercepta: Certo. Que é apenas cerca de 10 pés .. (ininteligível). Então … vamos voltar para outubro de 2007. E, a propósito, deixe-me saber se o vídeo será um problema. Mas continuarei falando de outra maneira.

Entrevistado: Então, outubro de 2007. E, na verdade, a sala de estar fica a cerca de 3 metros de distância de onde estamos agora. Então, estamos no apartamento original, onde tudo começou. E aconteceu porque, hum, Joe aqui estava morando neste apartamento em San Francisco com nosso outro cofundador, Nathan Blecharczyk, e Nate acabou se mudando. E então, eu estava morando em Los Angeles. Joe disse: ‘Eu tenho um quarto extra’. E então eu disse: ‘Bem, eu adoraria ir para São Francisco. Eu, literalmente, fui bastante impulsivo, larguei o emprego, subi aqui. Aqui estávamos neste apartamento incrível que temos agora e porque é muito bom, era muito, muito caro. Então aqui está você, um casal de aspirantes a empreendedores, meio que desempregados. Há uma linha tênue lá.

Tentar descobrir uma maneira de ganhar dinheiro e isso era meio que um problema. Essencialmente, temos um problema e o problema era que precisamos fazer aluguel e também queremos conhecer pessoas, porque queríamos iniciar nossos negócios. Então chegou a oportunidade. Na verdade, foi literalmente naquele fim de semana. Houve uma conferência internacional de design em San Francisco.

E no site da conferência, todos os hotéis listados foram esgotados. Veja como eles tinham hotel, hotel, hotel e dizia: esgotado, esgotado, esgotado. Aqui estamos pensando: Bem, precisamos ganhar algum dinheiro extra. Adoramos conhecer algumas pessoas e temos todas essas pessoas presentes nesta conferência que precisam de um lugar para ficar ‘. Então isso foi meio que uma lâmpada que saiu da nossa cabeça e dissemos que deveríamos criar um pequeno design bed and breakfast.

Puxamos duas camas de ar do armário. Os expusemos e dissemos: ‘Oh, isso será. Isso está indo para o bed bed and breakfast ‘. Não foi necessariamente … Não era como voltar para as notícias de hackers. Esperando que um dia. Nós, literalmente, éramos dois designers tendo um problema. Acabamos hospedando. Sim, colocamos a placa pensando que algumas crianças de mochila usavam. Imaginamos dois caras da nossa idade ou de vinte e poucos anos que voam para a conferência conosco, escolas realmente modestas.

Lembro-me de conversar com nossos amigos e familiares. Pessoas pensando: “Bem, acho que talvez isso seja algo que crianças jovens fariam. Eu realmente não vejo pessoas mais velhas fazendo isso. Não sei se as pessoas mais velhas o usariam. Bem, acabamos tendo três pessoas ficando conosco. E as três pessoas que ficaram conosco quebraram todas as suposições. Sobre os negócios, o mercado, tudo. E desde então, pensamos de maneira diferente.

A primeira pessoa que ficou conosco foi um cara da Índia. Então esse cara literalmente nos rastreia como se quisesse tanto ficar em nossa casa porque acabamos de criar este pequeno site. Ele achou tão legal. Sua oportunidade de finalmente ficar em São Francisco por muito barato, conhecer pessoas. A segunda pessoa que ficou conosco era uma mulher de 35 anos de Boston. Então, aqui vamos nós, não os dados demográficos que estávamos esperando. Não de alguém de Boston e mais velho. E a terceira pessoa que nos surpreendeu totalmente foi um pai de quarenta e cinco anos de cinco anos de Utah que ficou conosco.

Nesse ponto, estávamos pensando basicamente em três demografias diferentes. Absolutamente apaixonado por essa idéia, talvez exista um mercado maior por lá. Então postamos essas pessoas. Acho que ganhamos quase mil dólares ao longo de uma semana. Pagamos o aluguel. Conhecemos alguns designers incríveis. Tempo sério e inacreditável. Vezes percebeu e depois que algo assim acontece é tão bem sucedido. A coisa começou a florescer a partir daí.

Entrevistado2: Imagine esse Andrew. Você vai a uma conferência na cidade de São Francisco. Você nunca esteve antes. Apenas entre a diferença entre voltar para a reclusão de um quarto de hotel. Algumas costas o conectam à cidade onde você está para voltar ao apartamento de alguém com outras pessoas. É um ambiente muito social e esse foi o feedback que recebemos desses três convidados. Eles realmente adoraram o elemento social que trouxemos para a mesa. Além de economizar dinheiro e de conhecer São Francisco, veja os olhos dos habitantes locais.

Andrew: Então este era apenas para o seu próprio lugar?

Entrevistado: Certo. Este era apenas para ser o nosso apartamento.

Andrew: Isso não iria ser entendido além disso? Foram vocês construindo um site, construindo essas coisas apenas para o seu próprio apartamento?

Entrevistado: Certo, por um fim de semana.

Andrew: E então é só porque as pessoas gostam, porque … desculpe, vá em frente.

Entrevistado: Eu ia dizer que começamos a receber e-mails de outros designers aqui em São Francisco. Ele diz: ‘Ei, posso fazer isso também? Como posso participar? Eu tenho um espaço extra. Posso alugá-lo através do seu site? ‘E naquela época éramos apenas nós. Começamos a pensar por que não?

Andrew: Eu vejo e o único outro lugar que as pessoas podem fazer isso antes. Temos algum tipo de atraso por aqui. Está tudo bem. Nós vamos fazer tudo funcionar. As pessoas que estão na sala de bate-papo estão especulando no computador em que vocês estão. Você está na área de livros do Mac?

Entrevistado: MacBook Pro.

Andrew: Mac Book Pro, eu também. O profissional deve ser capaz de lidar com isso. Tudo bem, devemos alternar por aqui. A propósito, acho que o conteúdo dessas entrevistas deve ser tão bom que, se alguém no fundo como seu terceiro co-fundador, Nathan, estivesse no fundo arranhando um disco em um toca-discos, como todos nós estamos conversando. Que o conteúdo deve ser tão útil.

Andrew:… Que as pessoas ainda devem estar sentadas e quase apertando os ouvidos tentando obter todas as informações. E é isso que somos – é o que estou tentando trazer disso, algo que é útil. E, a propósito, pessoal, se algumas pessoas estão especulando que são os efeitos de fundo, não é. Não são os efeitos de fundo em um show ao vivo. Estou vendo que no Skype aqui temos um pouco de atraso. Vamos seguir em frente. OK. Isso é apenas casualidade. Você construiu essa coisa por si mesmo. Você o construiu porque queria alugar um espaço extra em colchões de ar. Quantos colchões de ar você tem? Você possui três colchões de ar?

Entrevistado: Sim.

Andrew: Como você acaba com três colchões de ar?

Entrevistado: [laughs] Como temos três colchões de ar?

Entrevistado: Temos um apartamento considerável. Adoramos receber amigos quando eles vêm para São Francisco. Por isso, sempre temos acomodações extras, só para garantir. Essa oportunidade nos permitiu monetizar os colchões de ar extras que tínhamos no espaço extra pelo qual já pagamos. Veja, já estamos pagando aluguel por esse espaço. Então, o que essa ideia nos permitiu fazer é realmente usar esse espaço para ajudar a pagar nosso aluguel.

Andrew: OK. Bem. Então qual foi o próximo passo? Agora você tem um site que funciona apenas para você? O que você vai fazer depois disso?

Entrevistado: Certo. Então aqui estamos nós. Foi em outubro de 2007. Fizemos isso um fim de semana. Não faço ideia de fazer negócios. De repente, talvez haja algo maior lá – tentando resolver nosso próprio problema. Então as pessoas estão dizendo: ‘Bem, eu tenho o mesmo problema’. Nesse momento, você sabe, alguns meses se passaram. Nós meio que tivemos outras coisas acontecendo em nossas vidas. E eu lembro, Joe e eu, fomos para casa no Natal. Você sabe, você fala com suas famílias. Todo mundo gosta, você sabe, você vai para casa nas férias. As pessoas dizem: ‘No que você está trabalhando?’ Provavelmente, travamos algumas de nossas conversas. ‘Bem, você sabe, estou fazendo esse projeto e esse projeto. Mas também temos outra coisa, colchão de ar e café da manhã. ‘Cama de ar e o quê?’ E você chega à conversa e começamos a perceber que todos estavam realmente animados. Eles adorariam fazer isso. Voltamos do ano novo. E, você sabe, eu lembro de fazer uma pergunta a Joe. Nós dois designers de profissão. Perguntei-lhe: ‘Quem é o melhor desenvolvedor que você conhece, o melhor hacker que você conhece?’ E acontece que o antigo colega de quarto de Joe que se mudou para que eu pudesse entrar na sala foi nosso terceiro cofundador, Nathan Boszarsic [spelling]. Ele é um desenvolvedor muito, muito talentoso. Ele é de Harvard e financiou sua educação por um negócio que iniciou no ensino médio – muito impressionante. Ele já havia feito uma start-up antes disso. E nesse momento, pensamos: ‘Bem, temos absolutamente que pegar esse cara’.

Entrevistado: Bem, nós sabíamos, Andrew, que se levarmos este site para o próximo nível, dois designers não poderiam fazer isso sozinhos. Então, precisávamos de uma experiência muito boa em programação e foi aí que preenchemos esse vazio com nosso terceiro cofundador, Nathan.

Entrevistado: Então sim, sim. E isso é depois do ano novo. E dissemos, você sabe, neste momento ainda estamos pensando como ‘vamos fazer algo meio gerenciável’. Dissemos: ‘Vamos identificar o próximo grande evento em que haverá uma crise imobiliária e vamos tentar fornecer habitação . ‘

Em fevereiro de 2008, que evento estava chegando? Bem, sul por sudoeste em Austin, Texas. Nós pensamos que seria ótimo, você sabe, um tipo de adotante precoce, bastante conectado. Então, lembro que Joe e eu fomos ao apartamento de Nate e, basicamente, lançamos a idéia para ele, vamos começar a trabalhar nisso. E ele adorou a ideia. E a próxima coisa que ele diz, ‘Tudo bem. Ótimo. Quantos meses temos para construir isso? ”Dissemos:“ Temos três semanas. ”E a maneira como conseguimos – o convencemos a fazê-lo é que não o chamamos de ‘Cama de ar e café da manhã’. , nós apenas dissemos como Joe: ‘Contanto que você coloque a palavra’ like ‘depois dela, não parecerá a cama’. ”Então, ele disse: ‘Não estamos construindo’ Airbed e café da manhã. Estamos construindo ‘Airbed and Breakfast Like’ e será apenas este pequeno site ”, e ele diz: ‘Ok. Ok. ‘E literalmente trabalhamos duro por apenas algumas semanas para isso. Realmente, lembro-me da primeira versão robusta do site. E nessa visão não havia pagamentos on-line como agora. Era apenas para fornecer alojamento para conferências. E esse foi o tipo de primeira entrada no mercado.

Entrevistado: É onde pensávamos que o mercado era sede de conferências. Isso permite que as pessoas se conectem quando vão a uma cidade para uma conferência.

Andrew: OK. Você pode descrever como era? E a razão pela qual estou perguntando é que posso – o que sei sobre vocês da pesquisa que fiz antes desta entrevista, o que sei de vocês pelo fato de terem se esforçado para colocar um mapa atrás de você para o meu pequeno entrevista fictícia aqui com o meu vídeo do Skype que mal consegue atender uma ligação como essa, mostra que vocês se importam com o design. Isso me mostra que vocês se importam com a aparência. Isso me mostra que vocês provavelmente estão rindo internamente do meu suéter aqui. E então eu quero saber …

Entrevistado: [laughs]

Andrew: Aparentemente, mesmo sem segurar o riso. O que eu quero saber é para as pessoas que realmente se preocupam com o design, o que você publicou como a primeira versão e depois como foi divulgá-lo?

Entrevistado: Bem, a primeira versão, Andrew, fizemos em uma noite. Quando criamos nosso primeiro site, o criamos da noite para o dia, porque precisávamos. A conferência em San Francisco estava literalmente a alguns dias de distância. E nunca esquecerei quando publicamos o site. Tínhamos imediatamente algo para conversar e compartilhar. E então o que fizemos, é que queríamos divulgar a notícia. Então, enviamos um email ao site para

Entrevistado: Enviamos o site por e-mail para o maior número possível de blogueiros de design. Brian e eu nunca esqueceremos a manhã em que acordamos e, de repente, estávamos no Core77.com, no swissmiss.com, e alguns desses blogs de design falando sobre essa idéia que só tinham chegado até nós dias antes. E aqui estava sendo transmitido para o mundo.

Andrew: E isso é porque a primeira página parecia tão boa que todos estavam falando?

Entrevistado: Eu não iria tão longe. Eu diria que a ideia foi tão original. Era menos sobre a forma naquele momento e mais sobre a ideia

Andrew: Ok, porque couchsurfing.com já existia. O Craigslist já existia. O que havia de diferente em vocês era a parte do colchão de ar, que seria Air Bed and Breakfast, certo? E isso era tão interessante que as pessoas falavam?

Entrevistado: Bem, o que tornou o nosso site diferente, mesmo da primeira iteração de uma noite, foi o fato de termos um elemento de perfil no site. Nós realmente queríamos conhecer as pessoas que estavam vindo para ficar conosco e avisá-las com quem estavam hospedadas. Então, aquela pequena faísca de apenas mostrar nossa foto, junto com fotos de nosso lugar, informações sobre onde estudamos, onde trabalhamos. Nossa biografia basicamente.

Eu acho que foi uma convergência. No Couch Surfing, você viu a foto da pessoa. No Craigslist, você viu a foto do local. Mas em nenhum site você viu os dois, como a pessoa e o lugar deles. Eu acho que esse foi um ingrediente realmente importante que o tornou realmente atraente. Eu acho que a outra coisa que a torna atraente foi que, especialmente pela maneira como lançamos, identificamos eventos. Assim, de tal forma que o Craigslist, você pode ou não ter algo em comum com a pessoa. No Couch Surfing, vocês dois têm um interesse comum em surfar no sofá, mas talvez não especificamente na conferência em que vão. E esse é um interesse realmente focado. eu acho que

por causa desses dois motivos, você viu o designer, o lugar deles, e eles estavam indo para a mesma conferência que você, e é claro que você estava economizando dinheiro, mas estava conseguindo uma acomodação real. Você não estava necessariamente conseguindo um sofá, estava conseguindo um quarto inteiro. Eles estavam ganhando dinheiro. Foi uma ótima ferramenta de rede. Eu acho que todas essas coisas tornaram muito convincentes

Andrew: Ok, a propósito, estou lendo a sala de bate-papo enquanto conversamos e, aparentemente, o AndrewSG o incomoda porque vocês estão vazando o linkjuice, que não estão maximizando a otimização do mecanismo de pesquisa. Vocês fazem algum esforço nisso? E, a propósito, eu entendo, ele é um cara apaixonado por isso, e ele deve procurar sites o dia inteiro e apenas enlouquecer com as oportunidades que as pessoas estão perdendo. Vocês fazem alguma otimização de mecanismo de pesquisa? Ele está certo?

Entrevistado: Admito que é uma iniciativa muito nova para nós e achamos que ele está totalmente certo. Há muito espaço para melhorá-lo. Nossa estratégia, de onde viemos, meio que explica. Começamos apenas recebendo muita imprensa. E confiamos na imprensa e no boca a boca para crescer. Agora que estamos crescendo um pouco mais, precisamos levar a sério o SEO, a otimização de mecanismos de pesquisa e discutimos muito recentemente sobre como melhorar isso.

Andrew: Bem. Boa observação, Andrew. Ok, então, vocês estão indo para o South By Southwest. Você criou um site que parece um pouco melhor que o primeiro, como era a segunda versão e a que você chama de versão Lite?

Entrevistado: Bem, foi bastante leve. Foi bastante leve. Nós só tivemos três semanas, então tinha que ser rápido. Não podíamos gastar muito tempo, você sabe, debatendo certas coisas, só precisávamos tomar decisões rápidas, divulgar o site e levar as pessoas a usá-lo.

A primeira versão não era muito mais do que um pequeno blog rápido, um tipo de coisa improvisada. A segunda versão era um aplicativo da web muito, muito rápido. Eu consideraria um aplicativo da Web, mas muito, muito rápido. Certamente não era um site robusto como você vê agora. Havia mais cinco páginas essenciais para o uso, você sabe que tinha um pouco de conteúdo, mas nada muito substancial. E na história da nossa empresa, nunca fomos realmente para o beta privado ou o modo furtivo. Fizemos uma minissérie de iterações, e isso é apenas um segundo, e é claro que há muito mais por vir. Então, nós fornecemos moradia, acho que tínhamos, 40 ou 30, 30, 40 pessoas listadas …

Sim, tínhamos 30, 40 pessoas na lista em Austin, e esses são completamente desconhecidos. Esta é a primeira vez, esses não são amigos e familiares que querem nos ajudar, são pessoas que nunca conhecemos antes.

Andrew: Ok, vamos parar por aí. Como você conseguiu essas pessoas?

Entrevistado: Então, desde o início, sempre tentamos obter muita imprensa. Tentamos aproveitar o fato de as pessoas começarem a falar sobre a nossa história. E, portanto, acredito que recebemos uma postagem de blog mashable. Foi muito pequeno. E o site não era muito substancial, mas nós fomos blogados e …

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Entrevistado 1:… Mashable. Temos várias prensas de design antigas, então todas as nossas prensas sempre começaram a partir de uma pirâmide. Sempre temos o menor blog que qualquer pessoa que queira nos cobrir, depois vai para o próximo cara e diz bem, eles nos cobriram e você meio que sobe a escada. Então, o que fizemos foram todas as postagens originais do blog, sites de design, tentamos fazê-las mencionar-nos novamente. Claro, não foi totalmente eficiente, certo. Tivemos que obter várias postagens no blog apenas para conseguir alguns usuários.

Mais tarde, começamos a perceber que seria melhor ser mais específico ao segmentar pessoas e ir para a cidade. Neste ponto, não sabíamos disso. Então, neste ponto, tudo o que sabíamos era que as pessoas pareciam gostar de falar sobre nós na Internet. Deveríamos continuar conversando e as pessoas descobrirão mais sobre nós. Portanto, nossa estratégia era atrair várias pessoas para um blog sobre nós e, claro, estamos falando de 30 usuários. Não estamos falando de milhares de usuários, portanto os objetivos são bem modestos e temos uma boa imprensa.

Podemos conseguir pessoas suficientes – como 20 ou 30, talvez 30 ou 40 – para postar em Austin. Isso foi há cerca de dois anos e tínhamos algumas pessoas que reservavam salas. Um dos verdadeiros momentos decisivos da empresa é que Joe e eu fomos e usamos o site. Foi a primeira vez que realmente começamos a nos colocar na perspectiva do usuário, usando seu próprio produto. Quando usamos o site, tudo mudou. Ele mudou a perspectiva sobre o que um site como esse deveria ser e mudamos totalmente todas as nossas suposições.

A primeira coisa que mudamos foi a ideia de que isso não deveria ser como o Craigslist, que você não deveria trocar dinheiro pessoalmente. E o motivo foi porque eu tive essa experiência incrível. Eu apareço no aeroporto. O anfitrião foi tão generoso porque decidiu me pegar no aeroporto, porque achou que não se incomodaria em pegar um táxi. Eu sei que você está entrando. Eu vou. Eu vou te buscar. Sua namorada estava nos preparando um jantar vietnamita e ele era um estudante de doutorado na Universidade do Texas em Austin. Eles tinham um belo colchão de ar na cozinha – na sala, desculpe.

Eles organizaram esse jantar incrível e, em algum momento, ele se virou para mim e disse: tudo bem, onde está meu dinheiro? Não era tão direto assim, mas de repente tudo estava legal e, de repente, não estava legal. Parecia muito sombrio e começamos a pensar que não podemos ter pessoas em todo o mundo trocando dinheiro assim. Vai ser muito, muito estranho. Acredito que talvez eu precise ir a um caixa eletrônico para receber o dinheiro e todo mundo fica tenso. Lembro de voltar e contar [xx] temos que automatizar o processo de pagamento.

Agora, isso voltou no início de 2008, pouco antes de as pessoas começarem a se preocupar com sites que ganhavam dinheiro. Então, é claro, para nós, estamos apenas tentando nos divertir. É claro que não estávamos preocupados com um modelo de receita. Portanto, esse foi um modelo de receita, cobrando uma taxa de transação e facilitando o pagamento pelo site. Mas a razão pela qual fizemos isso foi realmente de uma experiência do usuário. Vimos que era uma experiência horrível ter que pagar em dinheiro.

A segunda coisa que começamos a perceber no evento foi que as pessoas começaram a dizer que eu amo usá-lo para ir a Londres, mas você não tem um evento no site de Londres. Ou quero usar vocês … Conversamos com as pessoas de Austin, certo, na conferência South by Southwest e elas dizem que eu amo o seu site. Quero usá-lo para ir a qualquer lugar na próxima semana ou … Não houve conferência em nosso site para fazer isso. Então começamos a pensar: a) talvez deva haver pagamento através do site eb) talvez seja maior que as conferências.

E isso nunca nos ocorreu antes disso. Quero dizer, meio que aconteceu, mas não porque realmente começamos a pensar bem, o verdadeiro problema são as conferências porque os hotéis estão esgotados e as pessoas querem saber com quem estão hospedadas.

Entrevistado 2: O momento decisivo para Andrew foi quando as pessoas começaram a nos enviar um email de Londres, de Tóquio, de Vancouver, de Miami. Eles estavam escrevendo porque queriam viajar através de nosso serviço ou queriam hospedá-lo, mas na época estávamos apenas alojando conferências. Você tinha que listar uma sala para um evento. Quando o evento terminou, a listagem foi embora. Portanto, essas duas mudanças fundamentais alteraram nossa direção da empresa. Pagamentos online. É a primeira vez que você pode reservar online uma lista com seu cartão de crédito e agora é um site de viagens. Você pode viajar para qualquer lugar do mundo, independentemente de um evento.

Entrevistado 1: Então, isso está de volta … Agora, estamos por volta de abril de 2008. Então aqui estávamos. Criamos uma primeira versão que era como um site de um dia e a segunda versão era como um site de três semanas. Então voltamos para Nate e basicamente fomos para a prancheta e dissemos tudo bem que vamos começar de novo mais uma vez. Nesse ponto, não tínhamos muitos usuários e dissemos que vamos começar tudo de novo e vamos fazer duas diferenças agora. Agora, você pode reservar um quarto no site. Então você pode colocar seu cartão de crédito e nós tínhamos um ditado: três cliques no botão de reservar. Tinha que ser três cliques no botão de reservar.

Andrew: Digamos devagar para que eu ouça e os transcritores também. Três cliques para o que?

Entrevistado 1: O botão de reserva.

Andrew: Três cliques no botão reservar. Por isso, chego à página inicial, não clico mais de três vezes antes de acessar o botão de reservar para poder reservar a sala.

Entrevistado 1: Certo, e isso foi único, porque em nosso site anteriormente você tinha que se inscrever, encontrar seu evento, adicionar seu perfil, entrar em contato com as pessoas. Havia esse longo fluxo. Decidimos que o que tornaria nosso site revolucionário e diferente do Craigslist seria…

Andrew: Tudo bem, deixe-me descobrir o que você acabou de dizer agora. Antes de tudo, Brian, acho que vi seu endereço de e-mail pessoal e seu número de telefone pessoal na página de imprensa da Air B&B. Então, você é o cara que está lidando com toda a imprensa até agora?

Entrevistado: Joe e eu fizemos muita imprensa juntos.

Andrew: Mas você não tem [sounds like edr] pessoa. É interno. Foi feito da maneira que você descreveu?

Entrevistado: Exatamente exatamente. E tentamos ser extremamente acessíveis para pressionar. Tipo, nós não queremos ser apresentados, nunca publicamos comunicados à imprensa. Acho que tentamos lançar um quando lançamos, mas desde então isso realmente não levou a nada. Sempre tentamos ir diretamente às pessoas. Sempre tentamos trabalhar o tipo de pirâmide. Essa é a nossa filosofia geral. Comece com os blogueiros, uma vez que eles cobrem você – normalmente o que acontece é que a grande mídia parece querer digitar como um Google ou no mar de outras pessoas que eu já cobri. Para grandes, grandes histórias, eles querem ser exclusivos. Mas para uma história como a nossa, eles querem primeiro ver se outras pessoas estão cobrindo-a. E se outras pessoas o cobrirem e, você sabe, quanto menor o blog, maior será a probabilidade de o cobrir e mais eles apreciarão que você o procure. E você meio que trabalha no seu caminho. E, sabe, qualquer relacionamento que tenhamos que vou chamar hoje. Por isso, sempre tentamos verificar qualquer pessoa que tenha escrito uma história sobre nós, entre em contato com eles e diga: ‘Ei, você escreveu sobre nós em Austin for South by Southwest. Temos algo muito legal no qual estamos trabalhando agora. ‘Então, meio que fazemos o acompanhamento.

Entrevistado: Então as pessoas em Denver viram a notícia. Eles começaram a ouvir The Room. A NBC nos cobriu. Então a CBS local viu a peça da NBC. Então, eles queriam fazer uma história conosco. E então, eu acho, o Rocky Mountain News e alguns, o Denver Post viu o noticiário da TV. Então, eles queriam fazer uma peça. Então, de repente, começamos a receber entrevistas. Enquanto isso, criamos um vídeo viral muito engraçado e viral no YouTube. Havia basicamente uma música do tipo Obama que criamos. E aconteceu que a CNN viu esse vídeo. E eu acho que eles estavam ouvindo sobre a imprensa apenas no noticiário local em Denver, porque algumas dessas coisas, neste momento, estavam saindo do ar.

E então um dia recebemos um email da CNN dizendo que eles querem fazer uma entrevista conosco. E, na verdade, não foi muito diferente do que fizemos agora por meio dessa conexão do Skype ou entrevista remota. E, sabe, assim que fizemos a entrevista, passamos de literalmente dois caras, alguns caras em um apartamento, sem dinheiro, sem tração real, e de repente como estar no New York Times, CNN . Realmente apenas bola de neve. Tudo começou com blogs de baixa imprensa. Ele ramificou-se para notícias locais, jornais locais e, então, acho que o TechCrunch nos cobriu. Enviamos um e-mail para o TechCrunch dizendo: ‘Todas essas pessoas estão nos cobrindo. Você deveria nos cobrir. E então trabalhamos até a CNN e o New York Times. Naquela época, você sabe, muita gente tinha ouvido falar sobre nós e chegamos a muitos jornais.

Andrew: Tudo bem, deixe-me descobrir o que você acabou de dizer agora. Antes de tudo, Brian, acho que vi seu endereço de e-mail pessoal e seu número de telefone pessoal na página de imprensa da Air B&B. Então, você é o cara que está lidando com toda a imprensa até agora?

Entrevistado: Joe e eu fizemos muita imprensa juntos.

Andrew: Mas você não tem [sounds like edr] pessoa. É interno. It’s done the way that you’ve described?

Interviewee: Exactly, exactly. And we try to be extremely accessible to press. Like, we don’t want put up, we never really put up press releases. I think we tried to put out one when we first launched, but ever since then that really didn’t lead to anything. We always try to go directly to people. We’ve always tried to work our way up the kind of pyramid. That’s our general philosophy. Start with bloggers, once they cover you ñ Usually what happens is the mainstream media seems to want to type in like a Google or in the sea of other people I’ve already covered. For big, big stories they want to be the exclusive. But for a story like ours, they want to first see if other people are covering it. And if other people cover you, and, you know, the smaller the blog, the more likely they are to cover you and the more they appreciate you reaching out to them. And you just kind of work your way up. And, you know, any relationship we have which I’m going to call today. So, we always try checking anyone who’s written a story about us, check in with them, say, ‘Hey, you wrote about us in Austin for South by Southwest. We’ve got something really cool we’re working on now.’ So, we just kind of follow up.

Interviewee: Well, the thing about this, Andrew, going back to that summer of 2008, we didn’t have the money. And all we had was our time. So, this was the most frugal way that we could think about in press is just hustling, you know, digging into Google, finding reporters who are writing stories about his problem, you know a very high profile problem. And we offered them a very high profile solution. And they absolutely ñ they bit into it.

Andrew: By the way, thank you guys for your hooking up the Ethernet. It’s so much clearer now. And now I feel like we’re having a real conversation.

Interviewee: There we go.

Andrew: Alright. Something that you guys told me in the email before the interview was that you have multiple launches. What do you mean by that and how does that help you get press?

Interviewee: Right. So, you know, we’re only like halfway through the story of the launches. And it was funny, cause we spoke at [sounds like Why Commondator] and, you know, the kind of thing we tell people whenever we’re giving advice is, ‘Don’t go for the superbowl launch. Don’t go for one single thing. You don’t have to worry about exclusive story.’ You think about it, we had our first launch, the one day website; the second launch was South by Southwest. That was like the three week website. The third launch was in August of 2008. It was this thing we’re just talking about. And we actually had like three or four kind of like launches after that as well. So, you know, when you’re a very small company like you have the opportunity to retell your story many, many times, as long as every time you tell it, there’s something different about it. So, for us the first story was in our apartment. That was a different story right. Then our story was regarding housing for conferences. The next story was we’re solving this crisis. After that, what did we do next? Well, logically, the D&C worked so well, we did the same exact thing in Washington DC for the inauguration. And, it turns out that the people that covered us in CNN did another piece on us, and then even more people covered us. We got on New York Times, Wall Street Journal,

Interviewee: …the Guardian, international press this time, all around the world. We did a live interview with the CBC in Canada. So…

Interviewee: Yeah, and it was just about building relationships, following up, getting more stories. And, you know, we’re also extremely aggressive about the press. Every, every corner, we try to contact as many people as possible, and just tell our story in a really interesting way.

tell our story in a really interesting way. And I think people really responded to it.

One other thing we’re leaving out that was totally off the wall, it’s going to seem like it’s coming from left field right now, so I’ll just kind of set it up a little bit, because it has nothing – it doesn’t have seemingly anything to do with our business.

We had this really, really crazy idea, so here’s kind of what happened. This is maybe one of the most remarkable parts of the story. So here we were. We had been working the site for close to a year now, like eight months, nine months, and after nine months we had gotten a bunch of press at DNC. We still didn’t have a lot of users. We started to get some. We weren’t making a ton of money, and you can only go so long without. We hadn’t taken any investment money and so at this point, you can only go so long without any money. At this point we’re like we need to start making money. Instead of going right after trying to get investments, we decided let’s try to do something resourceful within ourselves to make money.

We were brainstorming originally at the Democratic National Convention and maybe even for the Republican National Convention. What would be something we’d give to host so that they could give to their guests as like an exchange? Be kind of a fun social interaction. We were thinking it would be cool if it were airbed and breakfast, if they could give them breakfast. We could send them a breakfast to give to the travelers. But of course we’re not going to mail them eggs or anything. We’re going to have to send them a non-perishable. So we thought what would be a non-perishable that was easily brandable? And of course to use that seemed like cereal. It was the kind of thing that you’d leave out on the table in the morning.

So we started to thinking let’s do an air B&B, DNC and RNC themed cereal. And because of our design backgrounds, we really, really had fun with this project. It was kind of a diversion that turned into a huge sensation, or at least way beyond what we ever expected. So we created Obama themed cereal and a John McCain themed cereal.

I can even tell you, Obama themed cereal was ObamaOs. We got basically Cherrios. We just called them ObamaO, the breakfast of change. And for John McCain’s cereal we called it Captain McCain’s, a maverick in every bite, because John McCain was a maverick and a captain in the Navy. And actually we have the boxes.

Andrew: Captain McCain and ObamaOs. There’s an ObamaOs box and a Captain McCain cereal. Tudo certo.

Interviewee: A maverick in every bite.

Andrew: That’s awesome. A maverick in every bite.

Interviewee: So the thing about these cereals, Andrew, we did it for mainly one reason, and that was to get press. We thought that this would be a really unique item to send out to media outlets during the height of the elections, right. Everybody was talking about Obama. People were reporting on really fun stuff like this, but the other thing that it got for us besides press is if you look on the top, you’ll see that each box is individually numbered out of 500. So we did a limited production run to make it a collectable item and we actually sold these through the website.

It just so happens that we ended up selling out of the ObamaOs. Each box sold for $40. It was a collector’s item. People we so enthusiastic they were willing to pay $40 for these. They’re beautifully, really it was like we tried to pay attention to every little detail, so even the bar code –

Andrew: [Laughter]

Interviewee: Really tried to pay attention to all the details to make it really beautiful.

Andrew: The bar code looks like, I guess, an elephant or a donkey.

Interviewee: The donkey, exactly.

Andrew: There’s the donkey.

Interviewee: So we ended up funding the company in these early days through the sale of breakfast cereal. And we ended up close to

Andrew: Are you guy in the live audience, are you as excited as I am about this? I love you guys. Now that we can actually talk and hear each other, this is awesome. This story’s incredible.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Andrew: For any company, for any group of guys who are worried about making money to come up with one of these ideas that you guys had is tremendous, but to come up with them one after another after another after another makes me say how? How are you able to come up with all these ideas while, by the way, you’re not just in college. You’re not just smoking a bong. You’re not just hanging out. You’ve got responsibilities. How do you do it? I’d like to be able to crank out great ideas like this.

cupom com desconto - o melhor site de cupom de desconto cupomcomdesconto.com.br

Interviewee: How do we do it? Well, so we have a background in design and I remember we used to be in studios together and we would literally just – I think what happens is, we don’t just sit around and have a light bulb idea. This idea came from a conversation. It actually very much evolved. So the first thing was it would be cool to be able to give a breakfast to somebody. And like, okay, that’s cool. We’re talking about it for a while. We’re brainstorming. We don’t immediately have the brilliant idea. It’s kind of, you know it takes a bit of time for us to realize that we should end up doing a cereal, a non-perishable that we can brand. Okay, we’re going to do a DNC cereal, RNC cereal. As we’re talking about this, then we start saying, well, there’s all this Obama propaganda materials. We should treat an Obama themed cereal

Interviewee: McCain theme cereal. At that point we’re like, OK, we’re creating an Obama theme cereal, a McCain theme cereal, we’re brainstorming. At this point, we were just brainstorming names. But, I guess the key was, we didn’t just one day we’re going to create oh, Obama O.’s. It was very evolutionary. We were then brainstorming names for Obama O’s, names for Cap’n McCain’s. I think it’s a constant conversation that we have. It goes back and forth, back and forth, and as you’re talking about things you basically get excited. And, as you get excited, new ideas pop up.

Andrew: And, how do you figure out where to have this stuff made? And how do you go through the trouble of having it all made? Sometimes, I get too into the tactics but, I’ve got to tell you, you have these ideas, they seem great, you go and try to execute them and you realize it becomes a big diversion to your regular business. Which is getting people to actually use the site. I’m wondering how you guys got over that hurdle?

Interviewee: Well, at the time Andrew, our big problem was awareness. We built the product, the product was great, it was working fine. We just needed to let people know it existed. And so this cereal was just an answer to that question. How do we let people know about us, in a really unique way? Because, here in San Francisco, everybody is starting a startup. Everybody has a company that’s trying to get press. So, how do you rise above the noise level of hundreds of thousands of companies all contacting the same reporters. Well, you do it through something that’s completely original and completely unique. And that like, they get this and they’re captivated. They’re telling everybody in the office about it, they’re calling to interview us. So, the cereal’s really just answering that question of how we create awareness about the site, through a really fun, creative way. Tactically speaking, I think the cereal and a lot of elements of the website go back to where Brian and I went to school. We studied and we met at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. And, RISD has a tremendous workload that, if anything, you graduate with an amazing work ethic and the ability to just take this abstract problem and turn it into something tangible. And so …

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Andrew: I’m sorry, go ahead.

Interviewee: I was going to lead into Y Combinator, now.

Andrew: Before you get into Y Combinator, let me make sure that I’m checking out the chat room. Rob in the chat room is saying, 40 bucks a box. So, you sold it for 40 bucks a box on the website, but you gave it to reporters for free. He’s then doing the math and saying, I think you guys said that you sold 1,000 boxes. Does that mean that you brought in $40,000 from these things?

Interviewee: Like maybe 800 boxes, around. So like, $30,000.

Andrew: $30,000 came in to you guys just for this cereal?

Interviewee: Right.

Andrew: Were you guys what Paul Graham calls, Ramen profitable? Were you guys Ramen profitable before the cereal?

Interviewee: No.

Andrew: No. It was still your own money that you were pouring into the business. Were you Ramen profitable after the cereal?

Interviewee: I would say no. I would say the cereal only basically helped us keep going. But, it was a temporary injection of capital.

Andrew: Why? Where was the money going? You had three guys who were working on the site, each coming at it from a different direction. What else did you need financially?

Interviewee: Well, really, it was just supporting three people to work on a website for a year without any salary.

Andrew: So, to be able to pay your rent, to pay your food. So, when guys who go through the Y Combinator program tell me that they needed the money in order to live while they were building their business, you really do need the money in order to live.

Interviewee: Right. You’ve got to pay your rent, you’ve got to pay your food and, at this point, we’d been working on the site so long. I didn’t have savings, at this point, I was literally living week by week.

Interviewee 2: I think we both racked up substantial credit card debt that year.

Andrew: How much credit card debt did you guys rack up?

Interviewee 2: Let’s just say thousands of dollars.

Interviewee: Thousands of dollars.

Andrew: I personally got into personal debt starting my first company of $70,000. And, even when we had money, and my brother told me, pay it off, I refused to pay it off because my ritual was, once a month, sitting with all these credit cards and paying one card off with another. And, I said, that’s grounding me, that’s reminding me to not get carried away when I see these huge sales numbers and to think like a human being and to feel a little bit of pressure about smaller dollars. So, I see. You guys were in a similar situation. You’re now running a business that’s got a little bit of traction, you need to take it to the next level, how does Y? Oh, one more thing before we continue. Back story. We refer to this business as AirBed and Breakfast or Airbnb. A couple of people in the chat room didn’t hear of the site, before. So I want to make sure that they know it used to be called AirBed and Breakfast. You simplified it, now it’s called Airbnb. Ok, so how does Y Combinator fit in?

Interviewee: So, after we did the cereal, here we were. We had a lot of confidence. A number of people knew about the website but, it wasn’t even close to Ramen profitable. We still had the Chuck and Nate problem. People are listing the rooms.

Interviewee: …in the room, some people are booking but clearly we still didn’t have enough momentum to keep going. We needed something from the outside to like kind of keep us going. And it wasn’t just the money. We felt like we really needed a great coach or mentor, somebody to get involved. By the way, after a couple months after selling these boxes we literally were in such financial hardship that I started literally eating the Cap’n McCain’s because we couldn’t sell all the Cap’n McCain’s. So I was just eating those.

Interviewee 2: I woke up one morning and one of these boxes was ripped wide open on the kitchen table. I’m like, ‘Is there a rat in here?’ Ron’s like, ‘No. I got hungry for dinner last night…’

Interviewee: That was what I…no food, no money at that the point, that’s what we’re eating. So we’re pretty desperate again and we decided on a whim to just apply, last minute to Y Combinator. We had already launched, you know. Plenty of perspectives on if you’ve already launched should you do Y Combinator? Long story short is we ended up getting in Y Combinator. And I remember on the interview we brought the cereal. And Paul Graham said, do you remember him saying like he wasn’t entirely sure of the idea? He said, while it sounds different but you guys sound like ñ I think he said ‘animals’. He’s like, ‘Relentlessly resourceful is another way of putting it.’ He said, ‘You guys just seem like you’re going to do whatever it takes to succeed.’ We basically said, ‘Well, yeah absolutely. And hopefully we’ve proven that so far.’ So we went into Y Combinator and there was a real turning point for us. Paul Graham really helped us focus on a single market. So while we’re all over the world, I remember Paul Graham…we’re sitting in Mountain View California and this is the very beginning of Y Combinator at this point and he basically asked us, ‘Outside of events where’s the majority of your business?’ And of course we didn’t have a lot of business but the little business we had, the majority of that was happening in New York City, for various reasons, right? The hotels were really expensive in Manhattan so our business was in New York. And so we told Paul, ‘Well, Paul the majority of our business is in New York City.’ And then Paul looks at us and he says, ‘Well you’re here in Mountain View. The majority of your business is in New York City. Why are you in Mountain View? Why don’t you just go to New York City?’ And we’re like…it was kind of a profound idea at the time. We’re like,’Really? We should go to New York City?’ So we ended up literally like booking a flight and Joe and I went to New York City and we decided to hit the ground and ju

st basically go practically door-to-door ñ not quite, but pretty close to door-to-door, like meeting every single one of our users in New York. We met them, we’re talking about the website, we brought cameras with us. We took like…we’re designers so what we consider professional or very high quality photos of their places. We held a party where they could all come meet us, get them really excited about the business, tell them, get them to bring their friends then we’d tell their friends to join the site. And the first trip we went we came back from New York and revenue, which was super, super flat, went up. It still wasn’t substantial we came back from New York and all of a sudden all of our bookings in New York went up. The quality of listings were better, more people listed and all of a sudden our bookings went up. And we started thinking to ourselves, ‘Well, it seems like every time we go to New York, the revenue goes up. So we should go back to New York.’ So we literally we go…we come back to Y-C for the Tuesday night dinner, work for a few days, Nate would be back here doing all the real work on the website, and then Joe and I would fly back to New York. We’d fly back again. Do the same thing. Throw a bigger party. Photograph more properties. Meet more users. Kind of really working the grounds. And that was really, really important early days. The other reason it was important was we started using our site. We started realizing all the things we thought were awesome about our website were terrible. And we had no idea. But now we’re trying to book we’re like, ‘Oh my God! This is annoying.’ So we started realizing I want to see bigger room photos because I can’t really get a sense of where I’m staying. And so we basically redesigned the website. We really put a lot of time into design and we just kept going back to New York. We kept meeting our users. I think there’s a really important lesson here and that is if somebody watches will

say ‘Well, that sounds really cool but that doesn’t scale.’ Like, if you’re going to have a million people on your website, if this is going to be a really interesting business one day, you’re going to want a million people and you can’t go door-to-door and meet everyone, all a million people. The answer is, right. It doesn’t scale. And the lesson that came from Paul Graham was do things that don’t scale. Do things that don’t scale. And for us that was our version of do things that don’t scale. Por quê? Because that was our one opportunity, while we still were small, to meet our users and kind of instill our values and the vision we had to the early people. And also learn from them.

Interviewee 2: It was weird. Up until this point, Andrew, we’d be here in the apartment in San Francisco and making decisions about things to do with the company and if the discussion ever came up, ‘Does that scale?’ If the answer was, ‘No,’ we didn’t do it. And we thought that everything that we did here had to someday support hundreds of thousands to millions of users. And it wasn’t until Paul Graham essentially…I feel like he gave us permission to go out and do things that absolutely don’t scale at all. It was the fundamental thing that changed our company.

Interviewee: And it was a fundamental thing that that changed our company.

Andrew: You know what? I saw that in our email exchanges and I wanted to come in here and talk to you about it, because I thought you guys were going to say do things that scale and then come up with a cute way of really telling me to do things that do scale, because it didn’t seem logical. You’re building a growing business. Why would you want to do something that doesn’t scale? So, I get a better understanding of it from what you’re telling me now, but I want to challenge that a little bit to get an even clearer understanding. What’s the purpose of doing something that doesn’t scale when you’re trying to build a business that grows?

Interviewee: Well, I mean, I think, if you don’t, if you’re not willing to do things on a different scale, you may never get to the point where you have to scale to begin with. Alright, I think at such an early stage in the company, it’s so important to be in touch with your user base. I mean, the conversations that we’ve had with our hosts in New York City shaped our business, shaped the design of our website, it shaped the policies on our website. They told us what they wanted, and this goes back to another Paul Graham, you know, quote is, make something that people want, and so those, by going door to door, by sitting down having coffee and tea sometimes for hours with our hosts, they told us exactly what they wanted, they said, hey if your guys added these features, if you added this button, this function, I would love your website, and all of the things that they told us actually weren’t that hard. So we come back to San Francisco, we make the updates to the website, and people would just be so happy back in New York, they’d go, oh my gosh, the cofounders flew out to see me, they listened to what I had to say, they changed the website to accommodate me, I love these guys, I’m going to start using them even more than I have been.

Interviewee: Right, and one of the other really important things is that we didn’t really until we started meeting people, what it would take to make this idea interesting. I’ll give you a specific example, when we first created the website, we had really small room photos, the room set up photos were probably like maybe three inches by three inches on the screen, that, two hundred pixels by two hundred pixels, something like that, they were really very, very small. We started, we’d see a small photo, then we would go to the apartment and we’d go wow, this place is beautiful, I would have never known the apartment, I would have never booked it unless I showed up here and realized how beautiful it was. So we said, we should take photos of this, we took photos of it and we went back and we realized, we should be showing bigger photos on the website. We would have never known that, had we never done that, and the other idea, this is actually something that Paul Bookite who’s one of the speakers at Why Conner as well, he said, he said, make something that a hundred people love and it may take a year, it may take two years for a hundred people to love it that that’s the biggest, you know, the hardest thing to do, not to get, not to make a million people fall in love with you, but make a hundred people fall in love with you. Because once a hundred people fall in love with you then, if you are in a market where like there’s many more people like them then you’ve basically solved the problem. It’s, but for us, we had to meet people one by one until they literally, like fell in love with our website, and we’d spend as much time, until a hundred people in New York fell in love with our website, and the idea was, if a hundred people in New York fell in love with our website, then a hundred people in Paris would, a hundred people in Boston would, all the people in New York, their friends would. We’d rather have a small base that really was passionate and loved us and the only w

as to do that was to like basically live with our users, many people say talk to your users, we literally booked rooms and stayed with our users, we’d live with them, we visited all of them, we had parties, we’d observe all the problems they were having and one other interesting thing happened when we did that. So, you remember, our website was still called Air Bed and Breakfast, we thought our niche was to provide like air beds and bedrooms, that was kind of what we thought about it, couches, airbeds and living rooms. When we met people, we realized, people said, you know I really would like to rent this whole bedroom out or this entire apartment and it actually turned out that our very first power user was a musician, this is actually an unbelievable story, so we go to this guys apartment and he lives across, he has a beautiful place across the street from Carnegie Hall, this guy turns out to be Barry Manilow’s drummer and Barry Manilow’s drummer changed the course of our company forever. Because we met Barry Manilow’s drummer and we realized that he didn’t he didn’t want to just list his bedrooms, he wanted to list his entire apartment. Por quê? Because he goes on tour with Barry and they go to Providence, he goes to Boston, they’ll be away for a week at a time, and suddenly we found ourselves in a situation where we had a user, a really passionate user, that wanted to, you know, list his entire apartment on our website. That was an entire user base that we didn’t even realize wanted to use our product. As soon as we did that, we decided, why don’t we add the option to rent out your entire home, your entire apartment on our website. It turns out that that’s a huge portion of our business now, we made not have even known that. We opened that new case up and it really started to change things in the course of our ‘Whycominator’.

Andrew: I see, alright, that’s really intense user experience, that’s really intense, well I did an interview with Eric Stephens who did, who does listening labs for companies

Andrew: He brings users into his office and he watches them interact with websites. He watches them interact with random sites, with Google, with his competitor sites, with his own site and, just by watching them, he’s able to see where they stumble. Seems like you guys did that to a much more intense degree.

Interviewee: Right.

Andrew: And maybe this doesn’t scale, but I can see how this could continue being part of a company, part of a growing company. You can always send people in to watch your users. You can always send people in to use your site. You guys can always keep experiencing it.

Interviewee: Right. We still use a product. We still host people. We still travel and we just came back from, New Year’s Eve, where we had a meet up in New York City. And, I think, 150 people came. Our very first meet up in New York was another crazy story. A long story short, we had, I think, one person come to our meet up. And it was really awkward because it was like me and this other person. That was like the big meet up. Me at a bar with all these shots and then one other person. I thought like a hundred people were going to be there. But, on New Year’s Eve, this year, we had 150 people. So, the community’s super important. The reason why is that our users are meeting in person. We’re very sensitive to that. And so, we want to be able to be in touch. We don’t want to be in the ivory tower or, over here in San Francisco, when people are meeting in Buenos Aires and meeting in Paris and meeting in New York. We want to go to these places. We went to Paris. We’ve been to London, Miami, Vancouver, LA, Chicago, DC, Boston. We have already traveled to a significant number of cities and we plan to visit more, as well.

Andrew: I hope you guys come to Buenos Aires, where I am. I’m not listed, but if you guys come, I’ll list myself just to have you guys over. Alright?

Interviewee: Deal.

Andrew: Let’s see, let’s see what else I’ve got here in my notes. I wanted to find out about how your design is just so intuitive and now I’ve gotten an understanding of it. Ad buys. A couple of people … Oh, actually, before I go to my question. AndrewSG, in the audience, is saying, Really? You guys didn’t understand that bigger pictures and better descriptions would lead to more bookings? Now, in retrospect, it seems obvious. Why do you think that at the time it didn’t seem as obvious as it does now, to us, in retrospect?

Interviewee: Well, I think that you can answer that question by saying that, in retrospect, our business seemed obvious. Right? You’re looking back. Didn’t this business seem entirely obvious? Well, at the time, all our friends, they’re really smart, they didn’t really piece it together. In fact, our photos were still bigger than craigslist photos. Craigslist, they have four tiny little photos. Our room photo was the same size. We thought that was OK. On CouchSurfing they had a big profile photo, but there was no listing room. So, we figured, we took the photo from CouchSurfing, the photo from craigslist, put them together, that was interesting to us. And, I agree that looking back it seems so obvious, except that we talked to so many people and our entire business, not just the room photos, our entire business didn’t seem obvious. Until we started doing it. Now, everyone looks back and says, why didn’t I think of that. But, it turns out, as you can see for us, it wasn’t like we had this brilliant idea one day. It was very [xx].

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Andrew: Alright, let’s go back to what was the year that you guys presented to Y Combinator?

Interviewee: So, it was exactly a year ago. We did the winter of ’09.

Interviewee 2: January of 2009.

Andrew: OK, let’s say this. Let’s go back in time, you guys get the OK from Y Combinator, they say, Yes, we’re going to give you the money. They tell you what share of the business they take. Let’s assume, five minutes afterwards, Andrew Warner walks up to you and says, Guys, I’m gonna give you the exact same money as Paul Graham. I’m gonna take half the equity, but I’m gonna live in Buenos Aires where I’m gonna do my interviews. I’m going to be hands off, I’ll check in with you guys later. Remember, half the equity, same amount of money. What do you say? In retrospect, even.

Interviewee: In retrospect, I wouldn’t have done anything differently than working with Paul Graham. The value wasn’t the money.

Andrew: Tell me about that. That’s what I’m getting at.

Interviewee: Right, right. The money, in fact, I don’t think we used a good portion of that money from Y Combinator. Because, over the course, within the first few weeks in Y Combinator, we started going in to New York. Also, we actually became profitable, over the course of Y Combinator. The revenue we were making was then funding our operations. The money became the least significant part of Y Combinator. And, I hear discussions on [xx] or other websites, debates about whether Paul Graham gives a good valuation, or whether it’s worth the money. And, the thing I can tell you is that Paul Graham, for us, and this is our personal experience. We made sure that we knew when we were giving away the equity and we were going to Y Combinator, the value wasn’t the money, the value is Paul Graham. We were sure that we wanted to get as much time with Paul Graham as possible. So, we took the opportunity. We met with him numerous times before Y Combinator even started. It was over the Christmas holidays we were meeting with him. During Y Combinator.

Interviewee: During Y Combinator, even though we’d be in New York City, we’d be the first ones at Y Combinator dinner. We were almost always the first ones at every Y Combinator dinner. We met him once a week, sometimes twice a week. We spent a lot of time with him. He was one of the people that inspired us to do certain things; like show big group photos on the home page in really nice places. At the time before that, we didn’t even do that. Maybe that also seems obvious looking back, but he was really providing guidance. He was the one that gave us permission to do certain things. I think he’s seen so many startups, that he knows patterns. He can’t motivate you. He can’t do that. That’s not what he does. But if you are already motivated, he knows. He’s seen enough startups that he can start to pick up patterns. And for us that was super, super important.

Interviewee2: Any problem that you’re going through during Y Combinator, there’s a very, very high percentage, or high probability that he’s seen it before and he’s seen how other people have solved it. He’s just full of so much information and great advice and if he doesn’t know the answer to it, the other value behind Y Combinator is the comradery that you have with the other twenty plus companies that are sitting next to you ñ to your left and your right- people who are really, really smart, and really, really ambitious and they are in the same boat that you are. They have a great idea for something and they’re just trying to get traction, trying to get it off the ground to the next level. So there’s a great team mentality of all these really smart minds during the Y Combinator class.

Andrew: I’m using Justin.tv to broadcast this live and I’m having a little bit of issues with it. I think they made a change and maybe my system is not ready for their change. People can’t hear us live for some reason. I’ll reboot the live stream for them. Sorry guys. Let’s give them a little bit of sound. Now I see why people like the transcripts. The transcripts don’t have any of these bugs. Actually, no. The transcripts also have their own issues. I use Mechanical Turk for that and Mechanical Turk is done by strangers who sometimes do a great job and other times just flub it on purpose. Alright, almost ready. I’ll just tell them it crapped out. Okay, alright, we’ll just go right back into it. Alright, we have a little bit of an edit here. Had some trouble with the live audience. I needed to work on the feed. Let’s get back into the interview and I had another question about Y Combinator. I don’t want to make this into just a Y Combinator interview, but I’m fascinated and I’ve talked to so many entrepreneurs who that just by going through the process have told me that their whole business turned around. You guys are telling me that it turned profitable just through the Y Combinator process. I’ve talked to several startups that have gone through it who’ve said that guys like you who have already built your business before going through Y Combinator, have an advantage over people who in the short period that they are in Y Combinator have to come up with a business, get it off the ground, launch it and then present it to investors. What do you think about that?

Interviewee: I totally agree. In fact, I think that there’s this kind of misconception of Y Combinator, that you enter Y Combinator with an idea and over like a few months, you build a product and it gets traction and then by demo day it’s suddenly a viable company. And I don’t think that’s how it works. I go back to us ñ it took us a year just to figure out what we were doing. I think that had we entered Y Combinator back in even March of 2008 or the year before, we would not have been where we are now. My advice is for people to have already kind of figured out…already have something going. They’ve already kind of struggled through an idea and figured it out. I think those are the people who have the best advantage. I wouldn’t use Y Combinator to necessarily figure out what you want to work on. I’d use Y Combinator when you know what you want to work on and then Paul Graham can help you and steer the right way. I think it was a huge advantage. And the other advantage was we had something. We met with Paul Graham, I think maybe more than anyone else in Y Combinator…

Interviewee: …or as much as anyone else. We met him a lot. The reason why is on Day 1, you know a lot of other people they don’t have a product done, they’re like, afraid to talk to him or there’s not really much to talk about. Even before Y Combinator, we had already launched. So we were meeting with him like, many times before it started. And then, on the first day we’re at comment, we’re having meetings about users and bookings. We’re going thru the site and spending a lot of time. It wasn’t like we had the last 2 weeks to show him our product. We were, you know…..We had the entire course of Y Combinator to have all the people and our group test it, Paul try it. We were like changing things. I think that was a huge advantage. And I recommend people, if they are considering Y Combinator, you really need to invest the time upfront before you enter. I think you get more out of it.

Andrew: Now I want to understand how he does this, and I’m gonna have Paul Graham here on Mixergy soon. We’re just picking out a date right now. What can I ask him that will give me insight into his process? I want to learn the way that you guys want to learn from him.

Interviewee: Hmmm. Hmmm. That’s a good question. Sim.

Andrew: You know what? You want to give it some thought offline? And if you have any ideas of what I can ask or what kind of insight I should be pulling from the interview, let me know by email. I want to get as much value from that interview that I can.

Interviewee: Yeah

Andrew: You know what, because here’s the thing. He’s very thought out and very methodical, but at the same time, a large part of his process seems mysterious. Like he’s thinking through how…how many computers he has at his office. Or he has one that’s offline and one that’s online so that when he’s doing work and doesn’t want to be distracted he can go to his offline computer (according to one of his essays). He’s thinking through a lot of things very methodically. But a lot of times when I talk to guys like you…you tell me that he came up with an idea that changed everything but that idea seemed to come out of thin air somehow. It’s not like he said, ‘We have this 5-step process. Go do the 5-step process, trust me. C’mon guys, you’re young, you don’t understand it, this process works for all my companies, go do it.’ No, he’s saying, ‘I got the idea for you. Go fly to New York. You guys came all the way here…get out of here. Go fly to New York. That’s my idea.’ BOOM! And I’m gonna interview so many other Y Combinator companies, not one of them is gonna say, ‘He told me to go fly to New York.’ There’s no formula here that I can pick up on.

Interviewee: Right, there is no formula. I think what he does is he listens very well to exactly, like, what your situation is, what your problem is, he’s very imaginative and like he’s not gonna, the thing is, like he’s not gonna think of the idea of your business. He’s gonna think of like, things that you haven’t thought of, to tackle a problem. And for us, our problem was, we had to get to better know our users, we had to, right, that’s what we needed to do. And so he thought of the idea to go to New York. How does he think of these ideas? I mean, I think that he’s just….maybe that’s one of the questions to ask him. Like, you can ask him specifically in our situation. How did he know to tell us to go to New York? When a lot of other people would have said, ‘Are you seriously going to fly all the way to New York to like meet, like, 10 different people for a weekend? Like why would you think that’s a good idea?’ No one else thought that was gonna be a good idea. In fact, I think we totally went off. They said that would be a terrible idea. We said, ‘Well, Paul Graham said to do it.’ So we’re like, alright well, we’ll give it a try. How did he know to tell us to do that?

Another thing to ask…what does he look for in people? Because a lot of times I think that Y Combinator will actually take a company on not necessarily because of the idea but because of the team behind it. So I think he has some intuitive sense of like, what makes a great team that can tackle any idea. It really doesn’t even matter what the idea is. They can take on any problem, the team is there, the chemistry, the ambition, the drive…he’s got a really good insight into that.

And I think in our case, he invested in the team. And I think that, you know, after we showed him how passionate we were; showed him what we went through making Serial , I think he saw a certain quality. So, understand what qualities he sees in founders.

Andrew: He’s the one that turned you guys profitable?

Interviewee: Maybe he would say that he helped us do that. But I do think that….Without Y Combinator we would not be where we are today.

Andrew: You haven’t lost the profit? You’re still profitable today? You haven’t lost it?

Interviewee: Yep

Andrew: Ok. In the chatroom, I’m getting a note here saying, ‘Andrew…’ Basically what this one guy’s saying, is that ‘My love for this whole conversation is getting a little bit weird.’ Alright, let’s move on.

I’m fascinated by Y Combinator. You can’t keep doing interview with entrepreneurs who are just, who are just hitting the ball over and over or who are doing well, over and over, and keep telling you that it’s because of this one program and not say ‘Wow. There’s something to this friggin program. There’s something amazing here.’ If people told me there was something else, I’d be just as passionate about that something else.

Alright. Ad-vise. I did some research for you. I Googled you guys. I Googled all kinds of words that would lead me to you guys and I saw that you guys were buying ads in Google. Right?

Interviewee: Yep

Andrew: How big a source of traffic is that for you? What percentage of your overall business is coming from Google now?

Interviewee: There’s maybe like 4 fundamental ways that we get traffic, but theres many others

One is just word of mouth. People use this: press. Press is like the thing that starts it. Then after people use it, word of mouth kind of keeps that going. And the other two big things are, they’re very unique to travel. They’re uniqe to every sect but travel is specific. SEO and SEM and they’re becoming more important to us. We can’t disclose exactly the amount of revenue coming from them, but as, I think Andrew had mentioned SEO, we have alot of work to do. I would agree. We have a lot of work to do with SEO. And with SEM we also have alot of work to do. But we know that in our key markets it makes sense because our traffic is monetizable and our business model is very simple. We take a 10% transaction fee, so if we can aquire a user for a certain dollar, we know exactly the conversion rate we need to have in that user to be able to afford those keywords. And so we go after our key markets, our key cities. You probably typed in New York, maybe you typed in a couple other ever popular cities. We buy up the common keywords people are searching in those cities and as long as the conversion rate is high, then SEM works well for us. And SEM in the travel space is of course an important factor. Though, it’s just one piece. I think ultimately word of mouth has been the thing that’s helped us by far the most because we don’t pay for that. And those are the most passionate users.

Andrew: We went way over with this interview. But Joe, let’s end it with this. What’s next for you guys, Joe?

Interviewee: Well, 2010 is going to be a big year for Air B&B. I think 2009 we used to figure out a lot of the parts of the product, a lot of parts of our customer service. We’ve kind of built our operation now. So I think 2010 is really the year where you’ll see Air B&B in more international cities all around the world. I think there’s just so much opportunity, not only in the United States, but abroad as well. So I think you’re going to see Air B&B in just major major cities all around the world. Paris, London, Madrid, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin.

Andrew: Buenos Aires.

Interviewee: Buenos Aires. We’re San Francisco Bay’s company so obviously we started in the United States and we have substantial traction here now. But I think really just going worldwide with this, really taking the success we’ve seen here in the US to the countries that have the key cities all around the world.

Andrew: And you guys venture backed. Did you need any funding after YCombinator?

Interviewee: Yeah. After YCombinator, we were able to reach profitablility and we’ve used our revenue to fund our operating expenses.

Andrew: Ok, so you don’t have to sell at any point soon to satisfy investors.

Interviewee: No, No.

Andrew: You can just continue at your own rate.

Interviewee: Right.

Andrew: And Rob in the audience is saying, did he say earlier that there was a… no not Rob, somebody else is asking “”Was there 10% margin?”” No, it’s 10% of the transaction cost, right? If I spend 100 bucks to rent a room through you guys, you guys end up with 10 bucks from that.

Interviewee: That’s right.

Andrew: And did you guys tell us what the revenues were for the business?

Inteveiewee: Yeah, we’re not disclosing that.

Andrew: You didn’t. Can you give us a sense of where they are? Are we over a million a year yet? Are we over a million a month yet?

Interviewee: Yeah, we can’t disclose that.

Andrew: Ok, fair enough.

Inteveiewee: So if that’s cool.

Andrew: I’ve got to ask.

Interviewee: Yep.

Andrew: But I understand completely that you wouldn’t say it yet. 10 years when we look back on this I’ll come back. I’ll do another interview.

Interviewee: Then we’ll tell you.

Andrew: Then you can be more open. Alright, any last words? Anything else? Any other advice you want to give entrepreneurs who are starting out?

Interviewee: Oh yeah, we have one. We would like to end with one email that a user… So this is our advice and then we’re gonna end with the email. Our advice is the polygram says to make something people want and be kind of tweaked out a little. Our kind of saying in the company is make something people need. You absolutely should make something people need. Joe’s gonna read an email from a user.

Interviewee 2: I’m just going to show you the subject line of this email. Can you see that? It says: You saved us. So this is from an actual user and they go on to write “”Hi Air B&B. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that you literally saved us. My husband and I, married last May, after having lost both of our jobs and our investments in the stock market crashing last year, we slowly watched our savings dwindle to a point where we didnt have enough to pay our own rent.

At that point, I had recently listed our New York City apartment on your site and was receiving so many requests that we decided to rent out our place and seek low cost vacation accommadations for ourselves elsewhere. We saved enough money to rent another apartment across the hall that we now have listed on your site as well. You gave us the ability to keep our home, travel together, and gave us the peace of mind knowing that we are going to make it through this challenging time in our life. Muito obrigado.

Andrew: Oh wow. That’s awesome, so you guys are making them into hoteliers.

Interviewee: There’s many many stories like that from all around the world.

Interviewee: but there’s many others. One is just word of mouth. Press is like the thing that starts it. Then after people use it, word of mouth kind of keeps that going. And the other two things are,

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