The Growth Hacks Of Airbnb

Airbnb is one of the most famous startups in silicon valley, but it wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for some clever growth hacks.


Back in 2008 when Airbnb was founded, the founder’s Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were in 40 thousand dollars of credit card debt. So they had to get creative.

They got accepted into Y Combinator but what really exploded Airbnb was the way they used these growth hacks


Picture Perfect

The first thing the founders noticed about their platform, where the terrible photos. People were snapping shots on their phones, and we all know the picture quality of cell phones back then.

So the founders decided to rent a 5000 camera and traveled around all the listings they had in New York, and started taking professional and edited shots for free. They even did a little decor reorganizing to get the shots they wanted.

This literally doubled their revenue for that market overnight. So they decided to start doing this in all of their markets. Photos make a huge impact for Airbnb, it turned the perception of their platform from another craigslist alternative, to a premier place to find unique and cheap options better than the average hotel room.

Speaking of Craigslist, that leads us to our next growth hacks.


Hacking Craigslist

The founders wanted to go to where their customers already were, and they noticed craigslist was the place customers who didn’t want to stay in hotels but needed rooms, where going.

They created a simple script that would automatically post their listings into craigslist and since they had great photos, these listings naturally stood out.

Eventually, Craigslist caught on and banned them, but by that time, over 100,000 people had already found airbnb, giving them a huge jump start.


Just because Craigslist banned them, they didn’t stop there. They would search craigslist and find listings that would be a good fit for airbnb. They then emailed the listing owners with a message that read something like this.

“hey I found your listing on Craigslist and I really would love to rent it! Would it be possible to list it on airbnb because I trust that platform more?”

This was another hack that brought thousands of new home and room listings over to airbnb, increasing their supply.

After some time, people started going directly to airbnb to search for places today, and we all know the story fro mthere.


The Takeaway

Depending on your startup, how can you take advantage of a larger platform? Airbnb utilized craigslist, and I’ve heard of other startups doing something similar with yelp. So if there’s a place where your customers are, how do you meet them there.

When you are just starting out, you need to get scrappy and think creatively. getting your company going doesn’t always mean throwing millions of dollars into facebook ads. Thats what everyone does, and I challenge you to think different.


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