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Airbnb & the art of resilience

How a flexible strategy and strong perseverance built a $30B company

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In this episode of the Tony Robbins Podcast, we are bringing back to Business Mastery one more time, where Tony recently led a panel discussion with the business leaders behind some of today’s fastest growing companies. And for this episode, you’re going to hear from one of the founders of a company that change the travel industry forever.

When is the last time you booked a trip somewhere? Where did you stay? Was it a hotel? Or did you opt for the alternative and rent a room, or maybe an entire house, from a local?

The idea of staying in a stranger’s home may have blown your mind a few years ago, but today it’s not just a standard practice, it’s actually the preferred accommodation for tens of millions of travelers across the world. And there’s one company to thank for that – Airbnb.

Airbnb started as a simple solution to a pressing problem; co-founders Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky couldn’t afford rent, so they opened up their San Francisco apartment for guests to stay in. They soon realized they may be onto something bigger than just a way to avoid being evicted. So, along with their old roommate, Nathan Blecharczyk, they started to build it into a business. But that was nearly 10 years ago.

Airbnb has evolved substantially since then, though it was by no means a straight path to success. In fact, they launched and relaunched a number of times. They found themselves up to their ears in debt, rejected by investors over and over and were very close to flatlining on more than one occasion.

You will hear their story of perseverance, and how they were able to find opportunities for massive growth where there were seemingly none. You will also hear about the importance their design background played in creating trust amidst strangers and giving customers the experience they wanted. And you will hear how they transcended cultural boundaries and were ultimately able to turn a floundering idea into a global business that operates in more than 34,000 cities in 91 countries, and is now estimated to be worth $30 billion.


[01:05] Taking you back to Business Mastery
[01:30] Introducing Airbnb
[02:45] Tony introduces Joe Gebbia
[03:20] Airbnb’s mission to create community
[03:45] The humble beginnings of Airbnb
[04:20] Not being able to meet rent spurred them to find a solution
[05:00] Hosting people during a city conference
[06:20] Starting to get publicity
[06:40] The special experience of their first guests
[07:45] The original concept for Airbnb
[08:30] Pivoting their focus towards travel
[08:45] Leveraging the 2008 Democratic National Convention
[09:45] When local bloggers and news stations pay attention
[10:10] A live interview on CNN
[10:40] Entering the “trough of sorrow” – a prolonged period of zero growth
[11:30] The ideation of the Airbnb breakfast cereal
[14:00] Getting publicity from the cereal
[15:00] How the cereal helped them pay off their debt
[15:15] Facing every kind of rejection you can imagine
[15:45] Rejection is an invitation to keep going
[16:10] Maxing out their credit cards
[17:00] Finding a way to add consistent value
[18:20] How did they beat their competition?
[19:00] Design set them apart
[19:20] Optimizing the end to end experience for the guest
[19:30] Finding where trust is lowest and solving that pain point
[19:40] A proper reputation system is key to building trust
[20:30] Facilitating communication
[21:30] Airbnb was no overnight success
[21:50] Utilizing every nuance and detail to convey a brand identity
[22:30] Design is considering every single moment of the customer experience
[24:00] The real difference between Airbnb and a hotel
[26:00] Overcoming the inevitable challenges
[27:30] The future of the “economy of sharing”
[30:00] Handling the regulations around Airbnb
[32:00] How to make the decision to commit to a startup idea
[36:00] It’s okay to have a backup plan – it’s not all about massive risk
[37:30] Taking the least amount of risk for the greatest reward
[38:00] Richard Branson is actually risk averse
[39:00] Finding the way to straddle both lines until it’s time to jump in
[40:00] Monitoring quality control across the board
[41:00] Creating hospitality standards
[41:15] The power of a good photograph
[42:30] Organic growth through raving fans
[43:00] Finding 100 people that love you is more powerful than 1 million people that like you
[43:30] How to keep innovating and maintaining a competitive edge
[44:30] What’s next for Soul Cycle, Warby Parker and Airbnb
[48:30] Why you always have to be thinking about what’s next
[48:50] Expanding the entire experience of Airbnb
[49:10] Talk to your community and stay connected with your customers
[50:00] Managing the business you are in and the business you are becoming


Making your customers happy – Learning how to give your customers the ultimate experience will help create raving fans and build brand loyalty.

How to build a $10M business – The 10 proven business strategies that can help you take your business to the next level starting today.

3 pain points of a growing business – When you’re scaling a business, you’re inevitably going to encounter “problems of scale”, but these challenges can also become opportunities for further success.


Team Tony

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