How Airbnb Pulled Itself Out Of Debt By Selling Cereal

Did you ever come across something that sounded so ridiculous but successful that you had to double-check whether you were in the alternate universe or maybe dreaming? That’s what I felt when I heard about Airbnb’s rescue story.

When the founders had extracted every penny they could from their stash of credit cards, they stayed afloat by selling cereal boxes.

The McCain-Obama election was the talk of the hour, so the founders, who had studied design, created fictitious cereals called “Obama O’s, the Cereal of Change,” and “Cap’n McCain’s, a Maverick in Every Box.”

Not only did they sell $30,000 worth of cereal and almost pull themselves out of debt, but they also manage to attract Paul Graham to accept them at Y-Combinator.

Lesson learnt: The solution to your problem may lie outside the area you are focussing on. Just because Airbnb was a technology company, doesn’t mean technology will solve its problems.