Airbnb is one of the most successful hospitality businesses in the world. They've made a $35 billion business by enabling people to rent their personal spaces to tourists for vacation & travel. However, this wasn't the status-quo when they started building the company back in 2008. For those of us who've followed the company know about the hardships they faced when they first came up with this idea.

It wasn't all smooth sailing

Before we get into the crux of the post, let's understand or refresh Airbnb's roots —

However, their persistence ultimately paid off and things stared to pick up slowly. By 2011, they had figured out their model (more or less) and are now one of the most valued companies in the world.

The paradox

Today, Airbnb is one of the most cited example of a crazy idea which turned into reality. People admire their grit and determination to not give up. Founders today want to be more audacious and want to build ideas which question the status quo. A lot of these founders look up to Airbnb for the fact that "crazy is the new normal". But...

But it is no guarantee that since Airbnb made it, others will too. Airbnb is a prime example of survivorship bias. Thousands of companies with unconventional ideas have died but we never hear about them. Airbnb's eccentric idea worked because of the core underlying problems they ended up solving — people needed extra income because of the unemployment caused by the recession + the demand for quality economic accommodation was not being met by the hotels. This created a ramp for Airbnb to fly which of course needed the persistence for it to take off.

A lot of founders today, fall into this trap that since their idea is crazy, it is going to take off sooner or later. They spend years and empty their bank accounts to the last penny all the while looking at Airbnb's story for hope. Statistically, a company is more likely to die a brutal death than succeed, yet people keep betting on the fact that crazy works in the new world.

Case in point - Having a peculiar idea is not enough. It is important that it solves a deep problem for a large number of people for it to fly like Airbnb did. These fundamental truths never change and founders need to be honest with themselves about them. They need to constantly introspect about the course of their action if things are not working out, without being swayed away by stories like that of Airbnb.