Since launching in 2007, Airbnb has grown its userbase and became a wildly successful online marketplace. Its users find the service not only money-saving, but makes travel more interesting. Their service is, of course not possible without homeowners. With homeownership declining, Airbnb has had to get creative to find new markets and revenue streams.
Today, Airbnb announced the launch of Boxbnb, a new service targeted at the exact opposite of its current market; the homeless. Boxbnb allows property owners to list areas around their homes and businesses for vagabonds and itinerants to spend a few days. Feedback can be left for the property owner and the squatter. It is currently being tested in the San Fransisco bay area.
To perspective from the homeless, we spoke with Tarnose Cohen, a former pets.com employee. “Really, my main spot is under the overpass near the 101, but its nice to get a change of scenery every once and a while. I don’t have any money, but sometimes I pay by capturing squirrels or yelling at the garbage men when they don’t put the cans down properly. I paid one nice family in jars of my own feces to use as fertilizer.”
Restaurant owners have even bought in on the new service. Frank Spidelli, owner of Frank’s Diner on Irving Street recently listed the alley behind his diner on Boxbnb. “We had a real stray problem back there. Dogs howling and cats screeching. Then this guy from Boxbnb took care of them. He said his name was Sir Digby Chicken Ceaser. I don’t know what happened to the strays, and I didn’t ask neither. Just happy to have them gone.”
This move by Airbnb has prompted other startups to tap into this previously ignored market. Zipcar will soon be experimenting with Zipcart, where the homeless can use shopping carts only when they need them.