Joe Gebbia is a 20 something new artisan multi-preneur. He has founded or co-founded three different start-ups and works on all three at the same time. His firms are:
CritBuns: manufactures fashionable, portable seat cushions that make it easier to sit comfortably for long periods of time. Joe is the founder, CEO and only employee at Critbuns.
Ecolect: a library and community site on sustainable design. It provides the tools and resources to make it easier to design and source sustainable products. Joe is a co-founder and president of Ecolect.
AirBed and Breakfeast: allows people attending events to share housing, save money and connect with others at the event. Joe is one of three co-founders of AirBed.
I had a chance to catch up with Joe recently and talk to him about his businesses. Here are the highlights of the interview:
How big are your companies?
CritBuns is really just me. It started as a school project while I was at the Rhode Island School of Design. The product proved popular and I am selling CritBuns all over the world now (see this USA Today article featuring Joe and CritBuns).
Ecolect and AirBed are team efforts. I found working on my own hard. There was no one to bounce ideas off of and no one to get feedback and input - no one to critque my work. I missed the team environment I had at school. So I wanted to be part of a team again and had the opportunity with both Ecolect and AirBed. Ecolect has 8-10 contributors spread out around the country and even several contributors outside of the US. AirBed also has multple contributors, but most are here in SF.
How do you manage distributed work teams?
It is pretty easy to do these days. We use Skype, Google Docs, Basecamp, email and texting to keep in touch and manage our work flows. We recently started using Google sites as an intranet. With the technology available today, it is both easy and cheap to manage remote teams and work flows.
How did you end up with 3 simultaneous start-ups?
It was really an accident. When I started designing CritBuns I wanted the product to be as environmentally friendly as possible. To do this I had to do a lot of searching and hunting for sustainable products and suppliers. I realized there wasn't an online community and content site focused on helping designers create sustaninable and environmentally friendly products. So I started Ecolect. AirBed just seemed like a great idea so I wanted to be involved.
It isn't very expensive to start a business these days - especially web based businesses. This makes it pretty easy to do multiple start-ups. Even CritBuns, where we make a physical product, isn't expensive to run because I outsource a lot of work and most of the marketing is web based.
Do you have any advice for potential entrepreneurs?
First of all, if you want start a company just do it. Get started, get moving and just do it. Also, if it is web based it doesn't have to be perfect when you launch. You can fix things as you go along. Get going, get it out and get feedback from real customers.