LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman: To Scale, Do Things That Don't Scale

To kick-off the new podcast, 'Masters of Scale,' Reid Hoffman chats with the co-founder of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, on creating the perfect experience for a handful of customers.
LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman: To Scale, Do Things That Don't Scale
Image credit: Jacqui Ipp

Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox

Stay informed and join our daily newsletter now!
Founder of This Dog's Life
2 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Editor’s Note: In the new podcast Masters of Scale, co-founder and Greylock partner  explores his philosophy on how to scale a -- and at, entrepreneurs are responding with their own ideas and experiences in our hub. This week, we’re discussing Hoffman’s theory: the only way to scale is to do things that don't scale.


Before had hosted more than 150 million guests in 65,000 cities it understood a simple idea: To scale, you need to do things that don’t scale.

This theory kicks off Masters of Scale, a 10-episode podcast series hosted by Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and partner of Greylock. Known as the “Startup Whisperer,” Hoffman will explore counterintuitive theories for growing business through conversations with top leaders such as , and Sheryl Sandberg.

Related: Check Out a New Podcast Hosted by Reid Hoffman -- And Join the Conversation on

In this episode, explains how Airbnb struggled for traction, booking just 10 to 20 guests in its early days and forcing its founders to rack up thousands in credit card debt. In one shaky moment, the duo even made and sold their own breakfast cereal. The company’s turning point came when the founders traveled to New York to talk to hosts in person. The two went door-to-door, staying with hosts, asking questions, gathering insights and listening to feedback.

Image credit: Jacqui Ipp

Related: Reid Hoffman: To Successfully Grow A Business, You Must 'Expect Chaos'

Steps like these are time consuming but powerful. “Over the last 20 years, I’ve worked on or invested in many companies that scaled to 100 million users or more,” says Hoffman. “But here’s the thing: You don’t start with 100 million users. You start with a few. So, stop thinking big, and start thinking small.”

Adds Chesky, “It's really hard to get even 10 people to love anything but it's not hard if you spend a ton of time with them.”

For more anecdotes and lessons from Airbnb’s surprising journey, listen to the debut episode of this new series. Listeners can also access new episodes on Apple, Google, Stitcher and other streaming platforms.

More from Entrepreneur

Get heaping discounts to books you love delivered straight to your inbox. We’ll feature a different book each week and share exclusive deals you won’t find anywhere else.
Amplify your business knowledge and reach your full entrepreneurial potential with Entrepreneur Insider’s exclusive benefits. For just $5 per month, get access to premium content, webinars, an ad-free experience, and more! Plus, enjoy a FREE 1-year Entrepreneur magazine subscription.
Are you paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.

Latest on Entrepreneur