Innovation Inspired by Airbeds

By working for a big employer, a part of control over your life may be lost. Without holding high stakeholder power, the employer can drop you at any time. Our guest lecturer, Stephen Dillon, quit his full-time retail job for this exact reason. He wanted to be his own boss to keep that control over his life because in the end, starting your own business is “immensely rewarding and immensely satisfying.” With his strong belief in the importance of entrepreneurship, Stephen created Startups.ie, a non-profit business that helps other businesses. The goal is to connect startups to advice from experts, other helpful resources, and countless opportunities. To further encourage and welcome entrepreneurship, Startups.ie has also organized the National Startup Awards for Ireland, which has been named the leading competition for startups in the country. Stephen is personally interested in the beverages industry, specifically intrigued by the beers and wines. He took his passion and created a startup of a low calorie alcoholic drink; through his product differentiation, he is able to escape perfect competition. Quite the businessman!

In the afternoon today, we were able to visit Airbnb, the company that changed all perspectives by profiting from renting out spaces without actually owning any property. The offices were beyond any of my expectations; the professional, yet casual, modernism drew me right in. Located in the Docklands of Dublin, these Airbnb offices are the European hub for the company; consequently, many different languages are spoken, which adds to the unique company culture. Another cool aspect of the office was the in-house breakfast and lunch. The foods are all organic, in-season, fresh, and locally grown because Airbnb aims to promote healthy habits and support the local economy. Airbnb’s organizational structure is separated into different teams, which have their own “neighborhoods” throughout the building. In each neighborhood, the employees do not have assigned seats, purposely so that they can get to know the whole team on a rotational basis. Between all the separate teams in the entire office, there are no secrets. They keep it transparent by sharing their information. I think this feature differs the Airbnb company culture from any other business. Overall, I would love to one day work for Airbnb, because they stay true to their mission while providing an enjoyable workplace.