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Brian Chesky, founder of Airbnb (HANDOUT)
Brian Chesky, founder of Airbnb (HANDOUT)

SMALL BUSINESS BRIEFING

'Homeless' Airbnb co-founder leads by example Add to ...

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CEO gave up his apartment and has been sleeping in others’ homes for almost three years, which is what the business  is all about

Brian Chesky has been homeless for nearly three years. But take no pity on him: the co- founder and chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Airbnb Inc. leads by example.

Mr. Chesky is at the helm of the fast-growing company that offers an online service to connect people who want to rent out spare beds, rooms or entire homes to strangers in need of a place to stay.

Since 2010, Mr. Chesky has, himself, been doing exactly that: He gave up his apartment and spends his nights crashing in other peoples’ homes found through Airbnb, he said at the South by Southwest interactive conference this week.

"In June, 2010, I moved out of my apartment and I have been mostly homeless ever since," he is quoted in this AFP piece as saying.

Mr. Chesky is among the up to 60,000 people that each night are now finding accommodation through Airbnb (named after an  air mattress that Mr. Chesky and a fellow co-founder used to rent out to help cover their own rent). According to Airbnb’s website, people can now find lodging through the service in 34,183 cities and 192 countries, everything from rooms in apartments to treehouses and boats.

“It’s the best way to take the pulse...The key is to always use your product,” he told AFP in explaining his vagrant status.

The company, founded in 2008, was not an easy sell, which, Mr. Chesky said, was launched three times before taking off, according to this piece.

Still, it’s all part of what Mr. Chesky calls a “sharing economy,” where people are offering services directly to each other through online hubs, as this piece notes.

“What we want you to do is live locally, in a world where, post-mass production, the economy is powered by people. The shared economy, for me, is an economy powered by people,” he is quoted here.

For other reads, also check out this piece, and this one and this one.

Google acquires U of T research startup

A University of Toronto research startup incorporated just last year has been acquired by Google Inc. according to this TechVibes piece, and confirmed by U of T.

DNNresearch Inc., led by Geoffrey Hinton, a professor in the computer science department, has expertise on deep neural networks (that’s what DNN stands for, according to this piece ) ” and “will assist Google in the realm of contextual recognition of voice and images,” TechVibes says.

The professor will now split his time between the university and Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and offices in Toronto; two graduate students that are also part of the startup will go to Google. The giant had previously given them $600,000 in research support, according to the TechVibes report.

U.S. subscription service for men expanding to Canada

Bespoke Post,  a New York-based online subscription service for men using a “box of the month” model, is expanding its offering to Canada as of April 1, it announced in a press release.

The service offers an amusingly titled “box of awesome” containing themed curated products, each box running $45, a discount from their value. The   startup launched last year. Have a look at this TechCrunch piece and this one on CBS News that followed its launch.

KEY EVENTS AND DATES

East Coast Startup Weekend

Fredericton will be the venue for the first East Coast Startup Week to take place on March 20 to March 24. The week will include a lineup of speakers, demos, mentoring, competition, and a startup weekend, all aimed at boosting entrepreneurship. For more information and registration, click here .

BCBusiness Innovators of the Year

For the fifth year in a row, BCBusiness magazine will honour 20 of British Columbia’s most innovative companies as innovators of the year. The event will take place on March 27 in Vancouver. For more information, click here .

 

EDITOR’S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

How to market an ice wine that can’t be called  ice wine

This week’s Challenge: Georgian Hills Vineyards needs to find ways to broaden the market for its dessert wine.

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

Buying foreign firms a growing path to expansion

Small Canadian companies can expand their reach by acquiring overseas companies – but such deals don’t come without risks and complications, reported this story, published in October, 2012.

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