by Xavier Murphy
First published 31 August 2021
Stefan Grant is a Jamaican, and the Founder & CEO of Noirbnb, a vacation and short-term rental company created for the African diaspora and other people of color. Stefan was inspired to start Noirbnb due to discrimination he and others faced while using Airbnb. Noirbnb is meant to be a safe and welcoming platform for everyone to travel, no matter their race or ethnicity. Noirbnb provides safe, comfortable accommodations and fun, exciting experiences for Black travelers and people of color, while helping our Hosts make more money and connect with great people. We also help travelers remove the struggle and stress of trip-planning via our Concierge Service. Noirbnb officially launched in 2016.
Prior to founding Noirbnb, Stefan was an MC, producer, photographer, and founder of independent record label DOPE SINCE ’88. The “DOPE” standing for Driven On Positive Energy. He’s worked on events with Red Bull, SXSW, A3C, and others. He attended the Art Institute of Washington, D.C. where his focus was on Film & Music. He is of Jamaican descent and his knowledge of Jamaican as well as Caribbean culture and history is boundless. He currently resides in South Florida with his wife. Here is my conversation with Stefan Grant.
What is your connection to Jamaica?
I was born in Jamaica, Montego Bay to be precise. Raised there partially, as well as in St. Elizabeth. City and country living, best of both worlds.
Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?
I would consider myself a bit of both. I’ve started businesses based on existing business models and also reinvented them or repurposed them in different ways. I think whether someone considers themself to be a business person or entrepreneur, it’s all about innovating and setting yourself apart.
What was your profession before you started your NoirBnb?
Before Noirbnb I was a lot of things lol. I was a performer, event host, songwriter, music producer and publisher, record label owner, graphic designer, web developer, many things. All of those things prepared me to launch Noirbnb.
Who or what motivated you to go into business?
I was always inspired by the need to present something new, different, and valuable to the market. People are always in need of solutions to their problems or ways to make their lives easier, or more enjoyable. If you can think about interesting and innovative ways to do that, you should go into business.
Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
I’ve faced tons of challenges mobilizing capital but that’s a big part of business in general. It’s all about validating your ideas, achieving product market fit, and once you do, beginning to scale and grow from there.
Tell us about NoirBnb and what motivated you to start it?
Noirbnb was started because I personally experienced racism and discrimination while using the Airbnb platform. While Airbnb has an incredible business model, they weren’t prioritizing the safety and dignity of all of their users. Primarily Black users, on the guest and host side. My mission was to create a community where Black travelers, hosts, and people of all walks of life can feel comfortable traveling and seeing the world.
Many businesses have a moment they call their “big three break”, whether it be a news story, a bigcontract etc. Have you or your business had that “”big break ” yet?
I would say that we’ve had a lot of big breaks. From my initial situation with Airbnb, to the announcement of our idea, our launch, etc. We’ve been blessed to have a lot of media coverage and engagement from our users. I’d say one of the biggest recents for us would be launching our Mission: Jamaica adventure
Currently what is your biggest business challenge?
I’d say our biggest challenge currently is raising capital. As we focus on product development and increasing our product market fit, it’s increasingly difficult to focus on fundraising.
Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
I love that every day I know that I’m building something important that has a positive impact on the world. People always tell us that they appreciate what we’re doing and that makes any and every challenge we face as a team and company worth it.
What motivates you on a day to day basis?
My family, my purpose, my friends, and leaving a lasting legacy.
How do you motivate people that aren’t close to you and enable them to see your vision?
Being myself and executing on the vision. People believe what they see and they have to see you working. If you’re not working on your vision and believing in it, why should they?
How do you remind yourself of what’s important?
I visit Jamaica lol. Every time I’m back home in Jamaica I’m reminded of what’s real. What’s really real, and important in life. God. Family. Health. Strength. Love. Nature. Life. I also try to employ daily meditation for 5-10 minutes in the morning.
What time do you wake up and do you have a routine?
I wake up every day, meditate for 5 to 10 minutes, do some weight training for 45 – 60 minutes, then shower and read 10 pages of a good book.
Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy weight training, flying my drone, making beats, and designing graphics.
If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for you in the business sector, what would you do with yourself?
I think I’d become a farmer lol.
Seven day, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
I’d like to visit Tokyo. I have been in love with Japanese culture for a long time.
My favorite guilty pleasure is…
Nerdy comic book/superhero movie YouTube channels.
My favorite Jamaican food is…
I think Jamaican food is the best food on the planet so this is difficult to answer, but maybe Jerk chicken. It’s simple, but perfect.