What Ecommerce Markets Have in Common

Here is a story worth hearing. There are these three guys, and they are struggling to make rent. A big convention comes into town, and all the hotels are booked. So, this one guy sends the other guy an email message that says let’s “make a few bucks.” He offers to throw a few air mattresses in his apartment and open up his place to two men and one woman coming into town. AirBnB was born, but it took two years before they got any traction.

Source: Bill Gross/TED Talk 2016

AirBnB just went public in September, but building it was treacherous. Their story was riddled with controversy, rejection and slammed doors. Can you imagine asking a wealthy group of investors to put their money into a business built on the idea of people renting out their homes to strangers? Even his initial pitch (see above) says “ha” at the end!

If we imagine life before this concept took off, it does sound senseless. One of the initial comments on their launch publication on TechCrunch stated that “the whole idea would come crashing down if [it] ever became mainstream.” Yet, here we are.

I bring up the story of AirBnB for two reasons:

  1. Inspiration. I love stories about what was once unfathomable becoming a reality. Every great idea (like carrying a computer in your pocket i.e. cellphone or strangers offering your rides circa Uber) were once pipe dreams that technology and hardworking people made real.
  2. Communality. The best ideas allow people to become a part of the platform. AirBnB was successful not only for its brilliant idea, but because their business model allowed individuals to join and create their own, listing their own properties for their own benefit. Rather than these three guys trying to sell you their product, they provided you the means to sell your product.  So does Amazon, Etsy, TpT, and the list goes on.

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