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Airbnb has experienced a lot of growth over the years. Currently our design department consists of nearly a dozen functions and outcome teams. It became clear that we needed more systematic ways to guide and leverage our collective efforts. While we recognized these challenges within the company, I believe they are symptoms of larger software industry problems.
While creating these components, we collected them in a master file called the library, which we referred to throughout the design process. After a week or two we began to see huge leaps in productivity by using the library when iterating on designs. One day, while putting together a last-minute prototype, our team was able to create nearly 50 screens within just a few hours by using the framework our library provided.
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To help fund the site, the founders created special edition breakfast cereals, with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the inspiration for "Obama O's" and "Cap'n McCains". In two months, 800 boxes of cereal were sold at $40 each, which generated more than $30,000 for the company's incubation. It also got the company noticed by computer programmer Paul Graham, who invited the founders to the January 2009 winter training session of his startup incubator, Y Combinator, which provided them with training and $20,000 in funding in exchange for a small interest in the company. With the website already built, they used the $20,000 Y-Combinator investment to fly to New York City to meet users and promote the site. They returned to San Francisco with a profitable business model to present to West Coast investors. By March 2009, the site had 10,000 users and 2,500 listings.