Crowdsourcing is the process of acquiring services or information by seeking contributions from communities, particularly from those that are online. Some of the most successful new companies on the market are currently using this process to make people’s lives easier and better. Reflik will regularly be releasing blog posts from a number of authors on the Crowdsourcing Revolution, where we will be comparing the origins and strategies of the exciting new companies that are utilizing crowdsourcing at the core of their business.
Airbnb’s rise from a San Francisco startup to a global success with 1,500,000 listings and a valuation at $20 billion certainly did not occur overnight. Co-founders of Airbnb, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia began their entrepreneurial journey humbly in a small apartment trying to get by while working on a completely different venture. With barely enough money on hand to eat, they rented out a room of their apartment with the promise of breakfast in the morning. They created a simple website and quickly had three renters sign up for a cost much lower than the average hotel. Soon after, ‘Airbed & Breakfast” was born just in time for the 2008 Democratic National Convention held in Denver, Colorado, where hotels were filled to the brink and passionate politicos needed places to stay.
As Airbed & Breakfast rapidly scaled its operation, the founders found a brilliant set of products to take advantage of the 2008 presidential election. They bought generic cereal in bulk and designed new boxes named Obama O’s after Senator Barack Obama and Cap’n McCains after Senator John McCain. This terrific idea raised $30,000 for the venture and the team was quickly proving that their creativity could be highly profitable. Soon after in 2009, Airbed & Breakfast joined Y Combinator and earned an additional $20,000 in funding. Seeking a catchier name, Airbed & Breakfast was renamed Airbnb and the team began the hunt for more funding, eventually receiving an offer of $600,000 from Y Ventures and Sequoia Capital.
Airbnb’s overnight success became a headache for the growing company as new policies needed to be added to support a wider customer base. With increased transactions and the obvious problems that arose with them, Airbnb was quick to remedy problems and install new policies. For example, Airbnb began providing insurance for those renting out homes and apartments to ensure vandalism or theft didn’t deter hosts. Partnerships with travel companies like Concur and buyouts of competitors like CrashPad and LocalMind have propelled Airbnb into global markets, spurring on the growth of users and hosts. With new features like Price Tips, a price recommendation tool for hosts, regularly being added to Airbnb, it is clear that the future is bright for this young company that seeks to revolutionize the hotel industry.
Just as Airbnb gained success crowdsourcing for the hotel industry, Reflik is gaining popularity by crowdsourcing for the recruiting industry. Homeowners now can rent out their empty spaces to individuals seeking an affordable alternative to hotels with Airbnb. In the same way, the recruiting community on Reflik.com leverages their existing database of candidates, social and professional connections, and social networks to fill open positions more efficiently for less money. The crowdsourcing phenomenon is successful because it provides platforms for individuals to market goods and services to each other without the formalities normally required of businesses. Uber, Airbnb, and Reflik are all leading the charge in providing opportunities for everyone to leverage their goods and abilities to a wider community, creating a virtual revolution that is disrupting the taxi, hotel, and recruiting industries.
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