Brian Chesky from adesias. on Vimeo.

“People are going to share everything. I think there is a larger trend of people online going offline and connecting together. The idea of people sharing food and other types of natural resources is really interesting. People sharing idle time, their skills, or their knowledge… It is truly a movement in the global economy.”

This quote is taken from an inspiring interview with Brian Chesky (cofounder and CEO of Airbnb) shot by Eric Baille, from Adesias*. Brian tells us how Airbnb impacts upon the local economy and gives his vision of the future – that of a sharing Economy.

For those of you who don’t know, Airbnb is a « community marketplace that connects people travelling all around the world to share « unique spaces »  (from airbeds, to castles, or treehouses) and live different travel experiences described as local, authentic, and human (« Travel like a human » is Airbnb motto).

With over 100,000 unique listings available in more than 19,000 cities in 192 countries, Airbnb already has a very significant presence all over the world. It has grown rapidly in terms of users and listings but also in terms of innovative service. Brian has an unique experience in building a pioneering and probably the most successful sharing startup.

We had the chance to meet Brian at La Cantine in Paris for a Master Class Event. Here are 5 lessons we got from him for entrepreneurs in the collaborative consumption space (special thanks to Natalie Ortiz for writing this post).

1. Build something for yourself

Build something you would love to use and something that would make your life more simple. Build a service that works, “think you are building it just for yourself at the beginning, that way you will be convinced it’s good”. Create something you truly believe in.

Be passionate.

2. Do small things well

If you want to reach a very wide audience and do many things at the same time you are probably going to be aiming for too much and it will be harder to focus on basic, practical things that work. Concentrate your efforts on a small community of people and in one concept at first.

Be focused.

3. Get your hands dirty

Go into the field and experiment with your service as an user, get out of the office and off the laptop. Try to solve the problems by yourself, ask your friends and your family to test the service, move to cities where people are using it,  and do it by yourself.

Be a problem solver.

4. Live with your users

Meet them, listen to them, understand what they need and what they want. When Brian’s house turned into the first Airbnb office, when even the kitchen had become a desk, he decided to leave his room and started to live on Airbnb, that’s when he started experiencing his service for real. By having breakfast wearing pyjamas with his hosts, he probably obtained the most valuable insights for his service.

Be empathetic.

5. Make people love you (not just like you)

« It’s better to have 100 people that love you than 1 million people that kind of like you ». “If you have 1 million users, you can’t meet them all, if you have 100 you can meet them! “ If you get all these people to love you, they will be committed to telling others about your service and your story, they will be your brand ambassadors.

Be loved.

This last one sort of goes back to the second point: small things that don’t seem capable of having a big impact will eventually pay off.

The story of Airbnb is an example of a different model, a collaborative one that is changing the way people travel. But in the end, it just gives us the opportunity to travel the way we want. We are starting to realise that sharing can make us happier.

Collaborative services, in order to be successful should be user-centered and should be able to adapt to what people want and need, Airbnb is a good example of how to make sharing happen!

* I’m grateful to Eric for this interview. You should have a look at his awesome video on Gen Y (it is in French).

A propos de Antonin Léonard


Rédacteur en chef de consocollaborative.com et co-fondateur de OuiShare, j'accompagne startups, grands groupes et acteurs publics vers une meilleure compréhension des leviers et impacts de l'économie collaborative.

2 Responses to 5 lessons from Airbnb for the Sharing Movement

  1. Formation dit :

    Cet article est passionnant et je viens d’ailleurs le partager à une collègue qui semble être d’accord avec vous et je suis sûre qu’elle m’en remerciera. Bravo pour cet article et votre énergie pour mettre en commun ces idées. Je serais enchantée de pouvoir lire vos billets sur ce thème dans les prochains mois. Cela m’est vraiment très précieux ! Merci 1000 fois !

  2. I completely agree!
    Thank you Antonin

    Odile from ride sharing site carpooling.com