Get to Know Biz Model Panelist Rebecca Rosenfelt, Product Manager, Airbnb Growth Team

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“In college I got terrible grades because I prioritized enriching experiences,” one of our panelists for our HowTo Conference tells us, “and I landed a great job out of school.”

By Betsy Mikel (Editor, Women 2.0)

Growth is an elusive concept that every startup seems to be working towards, yet few know how to achieve. Rebecca Rosenfelt is one of those few.

As the product manager on the Airbnb Growth Team -- recently valued at $10 billion (and probably a few billion more by the time you read this) -- Rebecca and her team that “get” growth.

We’re thrilled to bring Rebecca’s expertise and insight to our HowTo Conference next week, where she’ll be speaking on one of our panels: How to Create Value with the Right Business Model. (Check out who else will be joining her.)

Rebecca RosenfeltHere’s more about her background: Rebecca Rosenfelt is a Product Manager on the Airbnb Growth team. She has been at Airbnb for 2.5 years, and during that time has worked on Airbnb’s international expansion and business strategies, and developed product-driven tactics that drive the growth of Airbnb as a leading global travel marketplace. She joined Airbnb through an acquisition of the travel startup she founded in 2010, Inhabit Vacations, which offered a curated marketplace of unique vacation rental properties around the world.

Women 2.0: How do you typically spend the first hour of your day?

I’m an extreme morning person, so I usually wake up around 6 a.m. Mornings are my time to do non-work related things, so I try to use the time to catch up on reading. My goal is to avoid checking email until I’m ready to leave for work.

Women 2.0: Who was an early role model who inspired your career in tech?

Honestly, nearly all startup founders inspire me. I love how meritocratic tech tends to be -- anyone with an idea, motivation to execute and charisma to inspire others can start a company.

Women 2.0: What do you love about your job?

Startup life is fast-paced and can feel chaotic at times. The trick is finding (or creating) order and value in the chaos, which is a valuable life skill.

Women 2.0: What's one piece of advice you'd give your younger self?

Always question convention.

Women 2.0: What do you think the tech world will look like five years from now?

My hope is we’ll see more and more truly disruptive startups change how we live. The sharing economy startups (Airbnb, Lyft, etc) are one strain of disruption, but I’m hoping we see some big leaps forward in biotech, healthcare and financial services.

Women 2.0: What are a few apps or tools you couldn't live or work without?

I’m always looking for tools that make communication easier. I work with people located all over the world, and have found that the new messaging apps (WeChat, WhatsApp) are super helpful in cutting across time zones and communication barriers.

Rather than composing a lengthy email to a colleague in Singapore, I can just message them my question and get a quick response, often accompanied by a funny sticker.

Women 2.0: What did you learn from your greatest failure? (And if you'd like to share what it was, we'd love to hear it!)

In high school, I didn’t get into my top choice colleges, despite my perfect GPA and high SAT scores. That really rocked my basic understanding of the world, but it changed me for the better.

I learned that doing what you’re told and following a conventional path in no way guarantees success. You have to think critically, decide what’s important to you and pursue that, regardless of what you’re told. In college I got terrible grades because I prioritized enriching experiences -- and I landed a great job out of school.

No one has ever asked my college GPA. Generally I’ve found that if “everyone is doing it,” you should question it.

Don’t miss Rebecca at our HowTo Conference next week!


About the author: Betsy Mikel is the managing editor of Women 2.0 and runs the content consultancy Aveck. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and a lifelong obsession with French language and culture. When she's not biking all over every city she visits to find its best taqueria, you can find Betsy on Twitter at @betsym.