The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World, is a book full of stories and adventures about the creation of two of the most important startups of the moment: Uber and Airbnb. Brad Stone in this fascinating book takes us through a simple but very entertaining, enriching and educational narration about the way these two "Unicorns" have been created. If you are a fan of the success stories of this new generation of companies this course and this book is for you!
Navigating through each of the stories of the founders of both companies, it shows us in detail how the 3 co-founders of AirBnB and the two co-founders of Uber went through an immensity of challenges during their journey, how they struggled in difficult days, how they managed to make the best decisions, how they dealt with investors, employees and other stakeholders to get their projects off the ground and turn them into the mega-companies they are today.
Brad Stone has readers accustomed to literary writing combined with fictional writing but mixed with reality, which makes the book very easy and entertaining to read. It's a kind of book in which you don't want to stop, and you want to get to the end to know what conclusions are reached.
If you are a lover of drawing summaries, of highlighting passages of the book and extracting the best of it, you will find a lot of valuable information, that if it were delivered in a theoretical way would be very boring, but on this occasion the lessons are hidden within the stories of each of the characters and the narrations made by the author.
The early years of Airbnb
Incredibly, one of the biggest companies of our days as Airbnb was born from the need of its founders to pay the rent and as a side project to their normal lives.
But not only that was necessary for them to succeed, but it also turns out that they vibrated with emotion every time they talked about their idea, and they always said they were going to "put a dent in the universe" with this concept.
The email that changed their life.
In entrepreneurship, we are always told to look for our problems, but sometimes they just come to us unexpectedly, we just have to be alert to those signals.
Brain Chesky asked his friend Joe Gebbia if he could rent the couch in the living room for $500 a month instead of renting the entire bedroom. Then a few days later in San Francisco, there would be a design event (they were RISD graduate designers), but they were broke and needed money, so Gebbia sent Chesky an email that said so:
- "We can make money with this idea: Turning our place into a designer's bed and breakfast, offering a place to crash during the 4-day event, with wireless internet, a small desk space, sleeping mat and breakfast each morning!"
Another interesting feature of Airbnb's beginnings was that they only took 3 days to build the first MVP themselves and upload it in Wordpress. This reveals how important it was for them to first test the concept with real people before committing to a more sophisticated development.
Gebbia knew someone who had stayed with him as a roommate, had strong technical skills but was immersed in multiple projects. In turn, both (Chesky and Gebbia) had no technical skills, but a lot of technical requirements for their idea.
Do you think non-technical entrepreneurs should have more clarity about software development requirements and development times in order not to overwhelm a developer and get him to commit to the project?
Respond to this challenge here: www.bookcademy.com
Michael Seibel, the current CEO, and partner in Y Combinator acted as the main contact and advisor to raise the first round of investment with angel investors. However, there were several particular events related to these angel investors, because none were interested due to concerns about the size of the market, the absence of real users and because they were designers, not purely technical founders
Once they launched the platform, and the designers' event passed, things calmed down and the novelty disappeared, they had to think about how to make money and keep paying the rent. Here was born the famous cereal box, which allowed them to approach and convince Paul Graham of Y Combinator.
What did Paul Graham see in them that no one else saw?
Respond to the challenge here: www.bookcademy.com
The early days of Uber
Just as Airbnb was born from a problem specific to its founders, and previously mentioned as entrepreneurs must be alert to the solution of new problems, this time is no different. Garrett Camp the founder of Uber already had experience as a consolidated entrepreneur, sold his previous company (StumbleUpon) for 70 million dollars and had an inspiration.
One day watching a James Bond movie, Casino Royale, he saw that the main actor pulled out a "smart" cell phone (which was a novelty for the time) in which appeared a car moving around the screen and approaching its destination. Something as simple as this served as the initial inspiration for what we know today as Uber.
In the book, we can read how 3 "Initial" events in the life of Garret Camp influenced him to conclude the need for a different service as a form of transportation. It was:
- The James Bond movie, where it shows a car moving around a map on the screen.
- The logistics to enjoy San Francisco nights with a girl on a date or going out with friends,
- He noticed the service provided by some unmarked private transporters in the city's hotels.
In Uber's early days, when there were only Garret Camp and his idea of better transportation, he wanted to be sure he was going to pursue a worthwhile idea, so he spent a year making contacts with friends and advisors telling them about the idea (including Tim Ferris, with whom he came to the conclusion of calling the company UberCab) and taking the time to do the necessary research on the industry.
Among those first-year thoughts, and while he found the software developer to create the app, Garret Camp thought about buying a fleet of 5 Mercedes Benz and hiring drivers to share with them the profits
Garret Camp and Travis Kalanick met in Paris during an event called LeWeb and were introduced by a mutual friend.
Kalanick had also had a successful startup that sold and he dedicated himself to being an angel investor. Garrett had Uber's idea and Travis had another idea. Then they agreed to work on it as part-time adventures.
For 2010 (2 years after the initial idea) after launching it, testing it and having some users, both of them agreed to use the app but neither of them wanted to devote themselves to the company and Garret Camp resigned as CEO.
Uber's first pitch deck
We could say that Uber did not have the same difficulties as Airbnb in raising the first round of capital, but that is not true.