3 Men and a Mattress
3 Men and a Mattress

These days, it's almost a sure thing that family vacations, work trips, or bachelor(ette) parties are going to involve an Airbnb. However, it was only in 2007 that friends, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia rented out air mattresses to some strangers to pay for their rent. This sleepover netted them some cash, and more importantly, proved they had a viable business idea, to say the least. Here's how Airbnb became a household name and household hotel.

Sleeping with Strangers

Sleeping with Strangers

In 2007, pals Brian and Joe moved to San Francisco with no jobs and no prospects. After seeing all the city hotels were booked for a conference, they bought air mattresses, threw together a website called Air Bed and Breakfast, and invited people to sleep on their floor and then have breakfast. Brian and Joe were joined by a third founder, Nathan Blecharczyk, just before they attempted to launch at SXSW and offer lodging to festival-goers. This wasn't as successful, but fortunately they revamped their website just ahead of one of the biggest events of the decade: The 2008 DNC.

Putting the Breakfast is Airbnb

Putting the Breakfast is Airbnb

At the same time that Airbnb was acquiring success, it was also acquiring debt at a much faster rate. In order to fund their company, Brian, Joe, and Nathan came up with the ingenious idea to not only offer bookings for those attending the convention, but also develop a limited-edition cereal called Obama O’s to sell to supporters. After 600 bookings and thousands of dollars worth of cereal sold, the young company picked up another $20,000 from investors at Y Combinator. Since achieving breakout success in 2009, Airbnb has facilitated millions of bookings and is now worth over $50 billion dollars.