Day 90: Brian Chesky, Airbnb

airbnbHappy April Fools Day! Be careful out there today.

Some companies have completely changed their industry. They disrupt the status quo and wreak havoc on traditional businesses in their industry. Companies like Apple, Uber, Coursera and Airbnb all have redefined how we think about the products and services they offer.

Today I’m writing Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky who, along with his co-founder Joe Gebbia, created Airbnb – a website that allows travelers to rent private residences. It’s brilliant and I’ve used it a couple times with excellent results. It competes with the traditional hotel model in a way that changes how we look at lodging.

I just finished reading my friend Amy Wilkinson’s first book, The Creator’s Code. It’s the culmination of five years of research and over 200 interviews to figure out what the secret sauce is that successful entrepreneurs possess. Airbnb is one of her case studies. She tells about how Chesky and Gebbia “found the gap” – in other words, they found an unmet need in the travel world and fulfilled it.

The book is full of inspiring stories (shameless plug) and I became very interested in how creative the Airbnb guys were. I started researching them and discovered that they had a campaign called One Less Stranger where they gave 100,000 people in the Airbnb community $10 each so that they could do something creative with it to make the world smaller, “one less stranger at a time”. Well, I couldn’t help but see the similarity to my Year of Giving.

 

So I decided to drop Brian a note. He and Gebbia were creative and took calculated risks in creating Airbnb – who knows, they might just consider my idea…or appoint me the One Less Stranger campaign ambassador!

Day 90

 

Dear Brian,

Congratulations on the #OneLessStranger campaign – I’m a big fan. I feel like I might have even somehow been part of the inspiration for the it. You see five years ago I gave away $10 every day to a stranger while I was unemployed – I called it the YearOfGiving. It was amazing, and I created an entirely new community – so you’re right, it definitely is a way to bring us closer together as a society.

Day 90-2This idea of doing something every day for a year has kinda taken over my life. This year I have embarked on a journey called the YearOfLetters where I write a handwritten letter to someone every day for a year. You’re day 90!

We should talk about next year – I’ve made a commitment to sleep in a different place every night for a year. We could call it YearOfAirbnb. I’ve also thought of doing a YearOfCouchSurfing but that sounds way less comfortable – and I guess it would make more sense to partner with that other company if I went that route. Anyway, what do you think?

Your fan and customer,
Reed

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