I've known Y Combinator founder Paul Graham for years, back from my days in the publishing industry, so joining his program for startups seemed like a natural fit.
We didn't receive a big amount of money from Y Combinator -- somewhere in the range of $18,000 to $20,000. But it was enough to launch Hipmunk, a flight and hotel travel search engine, in August of 2010. We also reaped huge benefits from being a part of the popular venture fund.
The money a startup receives from Y Combinator is intended to be just enough to cover the costs of eating, living and coding for three months. You can't build the best program ever in that amount of time, but you can develop a product and test it to see if people really want to use it. So that's what we did when we received funding for our travel site.
The real value, however, is in Y Combinator's network of alumni and Silicon Valley connections. People pay attention when you've been funded by Y Combinator, and that attention was critical in helping us raise $4.2 million in Series A funding in early 2011. Plus, there's the value of working for three months in Y Combinator's Silicon Valley offices where we would have candid conversations with the startup world's greatest luminaries.
Not a bad deal for giving Y Combinator approximately 5% of Hipmunk's shares.
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