That airbnb is SO hot right now…

In which I reveal my discovery that tacking ANYTHING on the end of “The Airbnb of —-” auto-generates awesome, disruptive, multibillion startup ideas


You can’t listen to any business speech these days without being repeatedly pointed towards airbnb as the ultimate example… often in fact the only example… of just about any point the speaker wishes to make, from higher-level positives like industry disruption, market disintermediation, and democratization of commerce, all the way down to granular best practices of web design and user experience.

Airbnb are now even ultimate examples of investor funding and tech valuations, in the region of $10bn.[reuters]

In a way, airbnb is a bit like Bitcoin: it is universally acknowledged to be awesome but not that many people have actually used it yet. It’s heresy not to agree it is awesome, and being the first to come up with an airbnb reference in conversation establishes your hip credentials. Whenever you add airbnb into your point, even if your point is rubbish, it becomes awesome. I am sure there are even meetings going on right now in government offices, the Fed, NASA, and the Vatican about how they ought to be more like airbnb.

And airbnb IS awesome. But while invoking airbnb’s awesomeness provides an ever-fresh confirmation-bias-rich source of examples for business, marketing, technology, and first-world-social-improvement smarm, I would like to point out a much more awesome aspect of airbnb:

You can combine airbnb with any business model to generate awesome new business ideas.

Basically anything that starts with “The airbnb of ——” will be an awesome, self-explanatory, and self-explanatorily awesome business idea.

Think about it — not only can you hold up airbnb as an example of any business, tech, or marketing awesomeness… you can now actually generate endless new awesomeness with the philosopher’s stone of airbnb.

For the rest of this article it will suffice just to give you examples:

  • The airbnb of office space.
  • The airbnb of child care.
  • The airbnb of spare baggage allowance.
  • The airbnb of empty bowl-shaped swimming pools.

[See how this works? I don’t even have to explain the business model. It pitches itself, and is awesome.]

  • The airbnb of baby diaper changing on the move.
  • The airbnb of private space travel.
  • The airbnb of massages.
  • The airbnb of unused CPU cycles.
  • The airbnb of front row tickets to see the Knicks.

[The syntax doesn’t matter too much:]

  • Like airbnb for your wardrobe.
  • A family round-the-world tall ships sailing holiday, but with an airbnb twist.
  • The airbnb-ification of spandex orgies.
  • An airbnb-esque take on soup kitchens for the homeless.
  • A modern, airbnb style answer to the problem of excess-to-requirements ova and sperm.
  • What airbnb would be if they were in the carbon sequestration industry.
  • Looking after senile relatives the airbnb way.

[I could continue indefinitely…]

  • The airbnb of private bodyguards.
  • The airbnb of maths homework.
  • The airbnb of wedding dresses.
  • The airbnb of nuclear waste disposal.
  • The airbnb of travelling Europe with specific dietary requirements.
  • The airbnb of graveyards.
  • The airbnb of interstitial display advertising.
  • The airbnb of contango-stuck commodity futures.
  • The airbnb of kitchens with professional knife sets.
  • The airbnb of pro-choice family planning clinics.
  • The airbnb of human cryostorage.
  • The airbnb of rehearsing for flashmob line dancing.
  • The airbnb of witness protection programs.
  • The airbnb of oil sheiks’ art collections.
  • The airbnb of holding your place in the line at the apple store.

[A final point: if you are really looking to come up with blue-sky-rending, tectonic-shifting, Fukushima-cracking new business ideas… simply fuse airbnb with something very broad:]

  • The airbnb of pugs.
  • The airbnb of cheese.
  • The airbnb of doors.
  • The airbnb of crime.
  • The airbnb of attention span.
  • The airbnb of karma.

I hope my point is clearly made: on the one hand, you may already be getting fair results invoking airbnb to support all your existing business and marketing ideas… after all, whatever you just said, however nonsensical, everyone will nod energetically at the mention of airbnb and whisper “awesome… really awesome” to their neighbours… but on the other hand it is far more powerful to use my above technique just to come up with completely new ideas that — thanks to starting from airbnb principles — are intrinsically awesome from inception.

Share your own awesome business ideas now, and transform Medium into, like, the airbnb of ironic but maybe not bad business idea sharing. Good luck!