Your Cereal Entrepreneur Moment
When Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbla founded Airbnb around the year 2008, it was anything but a huge hit. It was so bad they turned to cereal to pull them out of debt. They used the 2008 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver and put their mad design skills to work to create fictitious cereals called "Obama O's, the Cereal of Change," and "Cap'n McCain's, a Maverick in Every Box." Maybe you bought some... They sent the cereal boxes (email subscribers click through for pic) to hundreds of tech bloggers hoping they would display the boxes of cereal on their desk and that they would write about their story to help raise funds of their original Airbnb business idea. It quickly caught on and they started selling the political boxes for around $40 per box. Obama O's sold fast, but they almost had to give away the Cap'n McCain's for free. Probably a telling sign at that time.
The cereal took off so fast it almost pulled them out of their $40,000 of credit card debt. They sold almost $30,000 worth of cereal boxes which gave them the confidence to get through their hunger starved period of looking for outside financing. Now, Airbnb connects people to apartments, castles, villas for days and nights, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Yes, they are a big deal.
I just got back last night from their headquarters in San Francisco. They have an incredible amount of talent and energy at their office and it will be interesting to see where they continue to go. Of course, their recent $500M round of funding and $10B valuation helps people get amped up.
Their founders cereal entrepreneur story is another reminder that it is darkest just before dawn. When you think it is time to stop, your next move could be the best. If you can convince other people to sleep at random people's houses while they travel, you can probably convince people to buy $40 boxes of Obama or McCain cereal. You have ideas, keep pushing them. Don't stop being a cereal/serial mindset entrepreneur...
PS- Thank you Sami Crasilneck at Airbnb for the killer tour and cereal story. Glad I snapped a pic.