112: The Crazy Origin Story of Sharing Economy Pioneer Couchsurfing.com with Casey Fenton

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Casey Fenton, like many of us in our 20s, wasn’t entirely sure where he would go in life.

Growing up in a small town in Maine, he started to think about this entire world that existed beyond the borders of his hometown, and all the experiences he had yet to have. One thing he knew for sure was that his small hometown wasn’t going to be offering him any of the new experiences he was looking for.

“That got me to start buying random plane tickets to anywhere in the world,” he says.

From there it was traveling from place to place, mingling with locals and getting a backstage pass to the world’s greatest cities. It was then that Fenton formed an idea for a business that would end up spanning the globe.

Today, Couchsurfing.com has more than 10 million members in over 20,000 cities around the world. When it launched in 2003, Couchsurfing was a revolutionary concept. It was one of the first businesses to truly harness the power of a sharing economy. Instead of spending money at hotels and backpacker hostels, travelers were instead offered a choice to stay in the homes of hospitable locals free of charge.

Since then, Fenton’s business model has been replicated a thousand times over by the likes of Uber and Airbnb, just to name a few.

We had the chance to talk with Fenton about his entrepreneurial journey, starting with being a backpacker to becoming the founder of a multimillion-dollar company with a reach that spans every corner of the globe.

In this interview you’ll learn:

  • How to go through the hardships of starting your own business
  • How to figure out which tasks to delegate and which tasks you need to prioritize as a leader
  • Tips on creating and maintaining a massive and engaged community
  • How to build an international reputation that people trust
  • The most powerful drivers that’ll get you to scale your business
  • & much more!
  • Hi Jonathan,

    Casey’s story is so cool. We house sit frequently. Different than couch surfing but also rent-free, and ya get the rule of the roost too, which rocks. Now we’re sitting on the Upper East Side of NYC and we’ve done sits in Fiji, Bali, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, as well as Cyprus too. Like Casey, me and wifey got that wanderlust, started off buying a ticket from NY JFK to Bali 5 and a half years ago and never looked back.


    • Hey @ryanbiddulph:disqus – Agreed Casey’s story is super cool. Wow, living the absolute nomad dream, that is amazing Ryan, well done to you!!

  • super

  • Gillian Rose Rodriguez

    Casey stayed on my couch!! Still my claim to fame! 😉


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