Two San Francisco roommates had a problem. They wanted to start a business but had difficulty paying for their rent. So they offered their apartment to out-of-town attendees at a business conference when the rooms at area hotels were fully booked.
They launched their new business venture, Airbnb, based upon providing such accommodations. The company is a web-based business that connects travelers with people wanting to rent their houses, condos, or spare rooms.
Something as simple as Airbnb succeeds because it aggregates information that helps save time and money. For example, booking travel accommodations for a week-long stay is complicated when there are numerous individual options to examine. An aggregator provides all the options in a single location on the web.
It’s the same concept that permits businesses to shop for insurance or office space. Using a single website to find these services offers other advantages. For example, the sites permit former users to provide feedback and rankings of the service providers listed.
Not only businesses are saving money by using aggregators. Individuals are increasingly going to the internet to find central locations that aid their purchasing decisions. No need to search several websites to locate a real estate agent. You can locate an aggregator—like Homethinking in New York—that compares agents by providing their sales figures and reviews by past homebuyers.
Convenient websites to conduct searches driven by statistics and comments are springing up all over the internet. Advertising generates much of the revenue for these businesses. But the parties listed on the websites also are willing to pay fees for reaching the wide audience of the aggregators. In addition, some aggregators receive percentages of each transaction arranged on their websites.
The range of subjects for website aggregation seems limitless. There are already sites such as Boomerator, which allows baby boomers to exchange advice and ideas about financial planning and retirement locations. There’s also Racevine, a website for endurance athletes that posts information about road races, marathons, and triathlons.
As long as there are people with special interests, websites that aggregate information are needed. Plenty of new opportunities beckon for entrepreneurs to start these simple internet companies as home-based businesses.