In the Internet space, it’s so easy to get caught up in the big success story that comes piped in from Pando or TechCrunch that shows how a company went from zero to hero in an obscenely short amount of time. While it’s true that, on occasion, the ‘up and to the right’ explosive growth happens for some companies, it’s not the norm and most companies – even the success stories – struggle to find a model and fit that their customers will pay for.
Case in point, AirBnB, the house renting site for regular people. I’ve heard so many times about how they ‘came from nowhere overnight’ to take on the likes of Hilton and Hyatt. I’ve heard them being used as the prime example of why we’re in another 1999-2000 Internet bubble. But the truth of the matter is that their road to building a billion dollar company (or $10B in their case) was fraught with struggles, mistakes, starts and stops, frustrations, and a few wins sprinkled between the failures.
Here’s an infographic, courtesy of Funders and Founders (they do great work!) on the 7 year, overnight success (haha) of AirBnB:
The Entrepreneur Lesson
One thing Joe and Brian continued to do well is iterate and believe. The takeaway lesson for entrepreneurs is that there is a good chance that the original idea being worked on will need to be modified as you get more information from the customer and as you see how the world changes around you. Stay nimble, don’t believe your own hype, continue to iterate, stay true to your values, but question everything else.
Sometimes, the race is won by those who decide to just keep running.