Editor’s Note: Safe BnB has been named to The Story Exchange’s 2023 list of 10 Brilliant Business Ideas.
During Covid lockdowns, Airbnb “superhost” Rebecca Martin saw numerous requests asking hosts to donate stays to Mexican migrants and Ukrainian refugees. Edwards was touched by how Airbnb hosts were able to help those in need – but also began to wonder why such a resource wasn’t available for women needing emergency short-term housing solutions. She knew she had to act – especially since, according to the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s 2020 Census, the most commonly requested unmet need is shelter. Edwards, of Dallas, is in the process of launching Safe BnB, which will provide such housing for women escaping abusive situations, keeping them secure as they get back on their feet.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A with Martin.
Tell us more about why you started your business.
In many cases, women escaping abusive situations have nowhere else to go. Often, they are lucky to get a spot on a shelter waiting list. Safe BnB will provide a much-needed service for these women by offering a secure place to stay.
Also, I am also a survivor of domestic violence. That’s the main driving force behind my decision to start up, and definitely an important – if not the most important – component when it comes to my “why.”
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
Becoming a successful Airbnb “superhost,” which is a program that rewards the company’s highest-rated and most dependable hosts. Hosting was my first attempt at supporting myself after leaving my abusive relationship. I was proud of myself because it was an astonishing success from the first day. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second of it.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Finding the courage to speak about my personal ties to this business idea publicly. Not knowing where to go for startup guidance. This idea involves reaching out to well-established programs and government agencies, all of which have specific protocols that I am not familiar with – yet! But I am learning and extremely determined. I’m a fighter, and quite smart.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
Everything about this process is significantly personal. I am learning to appropriately summon the inner strength I thought I’d lost, in order to give a voice to what needs to be said and a business around what needs to be done.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
I have learned that every market has their own unique “barriers to entry.” My advice is to learn and understand, as best as you can, all the ins and outs and strategic best practices required to your specific industry – especially when it comes to seeking funding. And, seek the guidance of a mentor or coach.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
It’s just feeling – or “knowing” – that the universe isn’t out to get me or make me miserable. It never was, and it never will be. I feel confident that the universe offers us an abundance of support. On hard days, it’s about slowing down and doing what I can to allow conflict or confusion to remain unsolved. It’s helpful to simply acknowledge that problems exist, and to be with them for the moment – which means surrendering to them sometimes.
What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Mr Rager” by Kid Cudi, “Girl Anachronism,” by The Dresden Dolls, or some Bob Dylan.
Who is your most important role model?
Brené Brown. I believe her theories surrounding the human condition are incredible. How she brings to light the commonality we all share with regards to vulnerability and shame is beyond insightful. She is an amazing researcher and academic. ◼