“Go to Airbnb, pick a niche and execute it 10x better.”
This was the opening to my recent social media post.
So far, it has gained 2 million views on Linkedin and Twitter—Nuts!
I promised to dive deeper, so let's do it!
There are only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is to unbundle.
So the idea behind unbundling of Airbnb is simple: Pick a niche use case with passionate but unsatisfied guests and then build a business around it. We will soon go into specific examples.
Craiglist can help us understand unbundling. Many popular startups "just" picked a category on Craigslist, “unbundled it” and made it 10x better.
Airbnb picked vacation rentals, and Zillow gobbled up everything else related to real estate. Unbundling Craigslist is a great concept that helps explain the growth of internet marketplaces in the last decade.
Would these marketplaces exist without Craigslist? Probably. But that’s a different story.
After my post went viral, startup founders started pinging me with messages.
Many saw it as confirmation of their own business approach:
So easy! But they all kind of struggle with the last step.
I'm a big fan of Airbnb, I believe in the long-term vision of the company and I wouldn't bet against Brian Chesky!
Airbnb created an amazing business with a massive inventory, strong brand, security, simple payments, and a comprehensive user experience. Their support is not in the best shape right now but that's definitely fixable mid-term.
But don't think you can create a significant business simply by copying Airbnb in a niche market.
At least once a week someone pitches me an idea for the “Airbnb for digital nomads” marketplace and they are totally convinced that it’s going to work.
Bad news to share here: nobody is going to book a trip on some no-name platform instead of Airbnb unless that platform is doing something 10x better.
One approach would be to build a unique inventory that fits your target niche but isn’t available on Airbnb.
Airbnb is already unbundling itself, and this trend is probably going to continue.
Here are some examples:
Some projects are finding success, and I see a pattern emerging: build a unique inventory (by buying or leasing assets long term) and perfect the user experience:
So what are some new opportunities in unbundling Airbnb?
Well, you can take any of these projects mentioned above and replicate them in different locations, make them in a different niche or add some twist.
Let’s use Wander as an example:
And of course, there are other niches that are not unbundled yet. I might go deeper into this topic in the next newsletters, but no promises.
If you liked Wander's concept, you might want to read about new business opportunities in hospitality that are emerging because of remote work.
I created the first coworking and coliving space for digital nomads. It went well until it didn't. We closed it and I started to focus on building a productized service for companies that organize offsites.
This one went better and together with an amazing team I work on it on daily basis. We built a solid booking channel for hotels, I talk about it quite often in the Hotel Nuggets newsletter.
Around 2019 I started to play with an idea of building a coworking cabin. My plan was to operate hundreds of them across Europe. Then Covid came to say hello and I pivoted this project into Epic Monday - a site full of resources for people who are planning to start a glamping business.
Once I'm passionate about something, I deep dive into the topic, run tons of experiments and sometimes come with monetization ideas (not always, unfortunately).
Hoodpicker started as simple survey, then I created a tool to compare neighborhoods in Lisbon and now it's a set of tools for people who want to invest into real estate in Portugal.
I constantly research ideas that combine hospitality, real estate and tech. And share them in my personal newsletter. You can subscribe now:
"Hi Peter, I have subscribed to your newsletter for a while now and am loving it. The hospitality industry fascinates me and your newsletter always gets my brain to go prrrrrr brainstorming ideas."
"Really cool newsletter. Thanks for sharing. Too many interesting ideas to work on."
"Just to say that your newsletter is my favorite of all time. I always get so inspired and want to have as many cool projects as you do."
"Very comprehensive. Not working directly on the space anymore, but following your content closely as it is so engaging actionable and without noise 🙏"
"Lovely newsletter again Peter! I’m a fan of your ideas and how your brain works.Always sees opportunities ad niche business. Keep up the good work!"
"Love your newsletter! The posts are very inspiring and I love how well you break down the business side of it."