AirBnb is one of the pioneers of the sharing economy. The owners started this $30 billion USD company out of a necessity. They were short of rent for their apartment so they decided to rent out 3 air mattresses. They created a simple website with a map and simple listing and called it airbedandbreakfast.com. It was their minimum viable product’s initial success that gave them enough confidence to completely go for the idea.
You can start your own Airbnb type platform. Maybe you want to build an app that allows people to share office space, or maybe it’s only for renting camps in remote areas or maybe it’s exclusive to renting high-end places like castles or maybe it’s exclusive for business travellers.
Why Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
We believe in lean methodology and believe that an app should only be developed to the point where it can start generating feedback from users. For Airbnb, there are really two strategies. The first one is very basic and second one is a bit more advanced with more features.
Let’s look at both of these strategies.
Strategy 1 # Very Basic Airbnb
The first strategy is just to just make a simple listing website with a map with simple feature set
- Ability to list property.
- Ability to search for properties (up to 1000 properties).
- Ability to see property details.
- Ability to fill out a form to book the property.
- Mobile Friendly Website (no app’s in this strategy)
In this strategy, all the work like payment processing, messaging, check-in/checkout dates etc will be done outside the platform. If you go for something like this, it can be done for less than $10,000. The advantage of building something like this is that you can use this to validate your idea and once you think you are ready to move ahead. You can invest more. If you have some users and traction, your chances of raising money from angels and seed investors also increase significantly.
For the rest of this article, we will look at the second strategy which has more features and takes the target market a bit more aggressively with features that users expect these days because they are now very familiar with Airbnb model.
Let’s look at the feature set. We will need the entire feature set for both its website and mobile apps for ios and android.
- Signup/Login/Login from Facebook
- Ability to List properties
- Ability to search for properties in the exact dates (Technical Fact: It’s better to have a search engine like apache solr or amazon elastic search to make a very fast search that can scale)
- Map Based Search.
- Search filters – will depend on your app type.
- Your profile.
- Payment platform integration like stripe marketplace or WePay so you can pay the hosts.
- Payment options for guests.
- Messaging between guests and hosts (advance chat like messaging can be skipped for MVP).
- MyTrips to list all your bookings.
- Settings Screen.
- Upcoming Guests for Hosts.
- Push notifications.
- Twilio Integration.
- Availability Calendar of Host.
Here are the Airbnb features we can skip
- Fetching facebook friends and google friends. However, this should be a must feature in version 2 or with more budget for MVP as this creates the viral effect. I skipped it because it’s probably a good idea to add virality after some validation of basic app.
- Listings from each town – These are listing pages you can generate for each town and they are good for bringing organic search results for that town or place to your website.
- MultiLanguage and MultiCurrency will not be supported in this version.
Approx Costing and Timeline.
I am giving a rough cost including all features given above and both the android and ios platform as well as the website.
Price also depends on factors like where you are getting the app developed. In the US or Western Europe, the minimum viable product would cost at least 4 times more than our costs.
Price to Develop Social E-commerce platform on iPhone or Android (MVP)
Price to develop Airbnb user app for iPhone and Android is approx $15,000 per platform. That is around $30,000 for both iPhone and Android platforms.
Price to develop the web services, backend and the website for users is around $20,000.
Total Price and Time
Total price to develop an app like this would be approximately $50,000 and the delivery time is about 3 to 4 months. Although the app is less complex as compared to platforms like Uber. However, a fully functional website adds to the cost. I would highly recommend including a website because of the organic traffic that will come through search engines.