Airbnb Blooms an Entire Ecosystem of Startups

Under the cherry tree #01

Airbnb valued at $10b –without owning a single bed, room, or building
Airbnb, worth over $10 billion after only six short years, is one of the fastest growing hospitality brands in the world – yet they don’t own a single hotel room. This two-sided marketplace of guests and hosts, has built an entire economy out of idle rooms and homes, tapping into social trends of going more local, global recession, and enabling technology like mobile, social and cloud services.

An ecosystem of startups emerges in orbit
Like Apple’s iTunes, Facebook’s app platform, and Salesforce’s AppExchange launched developer programs that blossomed into entire ecosystems, Airbnb has unintentionally crafted a blossoming ecosystem of value-added service providers throughout their growing marketplace.  The SF Gate lists out many of these new services surrounding Airbnb, titled “Airbnb spawns array of companies to aid hosts” most of which, are in the SF area.

Startups offer value added  to the Airbnb community
One of the early investors in this space, Mike Walsh of Structure VC, told the Wall Street Journal that this market is growing quickly due to low capital expenditures and low market friction. Mike’s firm has invested in Airenvy and BeyondStays. I asked Mike why this new ecosystem is blossoming, to which he responded, “These startups remove the hassle for hosts and guests while providing a consistent brand experience for both host and guest.

Index of Airbnb Ecosystem Startups:
While these starrtups are not formally related financially or through partnerships to Airbnb, guests and hosts may often interact with them to foster a better experience.

Accommodation and Recreation Services by Locals

  • Localeur is a curated community of local insiders who want to help you experience what the locals know are the best places to stay and play. It’s proving to be more reliable that tourist reviews.
  • Vayable not only reveals great destinations and experiences recommended by locals, they book entire experiences for you.

Airbnb Property Management Services

  • Airenvy takes some of the work out of renting your space by handling the business side of the rental process by taking care of listing, check-in, cleaning, linens and supplies. The company is an adjunct service to Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway and FlipKey.
  • Urban Bellhop is dedicated to helping vacation rental hosts (like Airbnb and VRBO) maximize their rental opportunities and to helping guests by make all arrangements to meet you at the house to get you settled in. They can even have all of your favorite food items waiting for you in the fridge when you arrive.
  • Beyond Stays claims that their service will help Airbnb hosts make 30% more through their booking, cleaning, maintenance, and concierge services.
  • Guesthop provides additional services such as local excursion planning, babysitting and meal delivery in addition to traditional property management.
  • Super Host advertises itself as “the easiest way to manage your Airbnb listing.”
  • Keycafe provides a convenient storage location and pickup point for your guests to pick up the keys to your Airbnb rental when you are out of town. Alternatively, Keycafe offers a remote, mobile app for access to your rental.
  • Not to be overlooked, Pad Pipers advertises that “While you travel, we toil,” and offers a plethora of services, including property assessment, guest screening, restocking of supplies, insurance and calendar management.
  • A series of home cleaning services have emerged such as, Handybook, MerryMaids to keep that rental spic and span.

Cooperating Food Services

  • Feastly service provide exquisite, in-home dining experiences ideal for guests staying in Airbnb spaces, enhancing the romance of a special night or two away from the ordinary. I contacted CEO Noah Karesh who replied “We have cooks who are hosts on Airbnb and have allowed their Airbnb guests to join in Feastly meals. We have also had Airbnb hosts reach out to us about posting menus on Feastly for their Airbnb guests as an added service.”
  • Cookening offers a slightly different twist with a host cooking and sharing a meal with you at their nearby home or shop. It’s a hosted, gourmet night out in peaceful surroundings. Cedric, the founder of Cookening, started the idea as an Airbnb host.
  • With Shareyourmeal, you can find locals who are willing to share the meals they are already preparing, or you can advertise to do the same with visitors to your area.

Related Services

  • For those that want to swap homes, see HomeExchange and skip Airbnb all together.
  • Don’t worry about Rover when you go out of town, use DogVacay and skip the kennel.
  • Naturally, the entire ride and car sharing world is part of this ecosystem, but that warrants a complete post on its own.

Airbnb intends to grow into other hospitality services.
This is just the beginning. Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, has indicated that he’ll be moving the company into a variety of verticals related to hospitality – beyond just rooms. Expect them to launch their own marketplace, either partnering with the startups listed above or directly competing by creating sub-marketplaces that replicate what these startups are doing. This could spell partnership opportunities for the above listed startups –or potential competition as Airbnb launches their own services.

Expect Airbnb to launch a developer partner platform.
Just as eBay, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and many other tech companies have developer programs, expect Airbnb to open up select APIs for partners, build a larger platform for developers and enable this ecosystem of startups to centralize reputation, payments, data, profiles, and services. Virtually every tech company heads this route for broader scale, and Wall Street will expect Airbnb to have multiple revenue streams before an exit.

Traditional hotels can join this market and use as an opportunity.
Boston University recently studied and found that hotel revenues decrease as Airbnb grows. Hotel companies must heed this market trend, and tap the crowd as a partner. We’ve already seen several hotels shift their business model to rent goods, partner with Uber, and more. In the end, hotels have six scenarios to address the collaborative economy. I made a prediction on NBC that we’ll see a hotel company launch their own version of Airbnb. Regardless of the outcome, the trend is obvious: the crowd is becoming a hospitality company.

(Image used within creative commons license, by Osanpo)