This early-stage Airbnb financing story is an electric factory. Today, Airbnb is publicly traded with a valuation of over 110 billion, but in 2008 it was just a couple of guys idea buried under a mountain of credit card debt with an idea. Let’s pay some homage to the greats...
Back when Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were perfecting their product and getting Airbnb off the ground, they found themselves $20,000 in debt. With bills approaching and no way to pay them, they started looking for solutions, and the solution they found was borderline ridiculous. But ridiculous ideas are great ideas when paired with genius execution. So what do you do when your eye-deep in debt and trying to disrupt the hospitality industry?
You make 1,000 limited-edition cereal boxes of that year's presidential candidates. You channel your inner Picasso to create cereal box designs for “Obama O’s” and “Cap’n McCain's”. You call in a favor to a friend in the cereal business. He says he can print 500 of each design on cereal boxes, free of charge. You take the deal and stay up all night folding them. You fill them with generic store brand cereal and hot glue them shut. You hand number the boxes out of 500 for each type of cereal. Then, you go door to do selling them for $40 a piece and come out $20,000 in the green.
Inject that into my veins. If that doesn’t fire you up, then I don’t know what will. Forget applying for that academic scholarship—go out and sell some cereal boxes.
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