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Published on Oct 5, 2010
There's no shortage of web sites where you can book travel, from Priceline to Kayak to airlines' own sites. But that doesn't mean that their standard user interfaces work very well. I sat down with Steve Huffman, co-founder of Hipmunk, to learn about his company's vision for taking the sting out of booking flights.
"There are dozens of ways of buying tickets online, all of which, in our opinion, are equally bad and painful," says Huffman. His friend and co-founder Adam Goldstein suggested they create a travel search startup. "It was no-brainer: having been in a bicoastal relationship for the last four or five years, I know how painful it is to buy tickets," says Huffman. "It can take hours. And by the time you're done buying the ticket, you wonder why you're traveling in the first place."
What makes Hipmunk different than other booking sites? "We try to present the results in a useful way," explains Huffman. "So instead of a wall of text that might span 35 pages, we have one simple clean interface where you can see the flights. You can see how they compare to one another and how long the flights are. But we also remove a lot of listings from the results--usually around 70 percent right off the bat." Hipmunk smartly removes obviously undesirable flights, and you can also plug in your preferred airline so it will always appear in your results.
Huffman knows a thing or two about startups: five years ago, he co-founded Reddit, which was then acquired by Condé Nast. He recommends the startup experience to anyone who really wants to do it: "There is nothing to lose, except time. Especially if you're a college kid. You spent the last four years living in poverty, what's another couple going to cost? Worst-case scenario, you effectively give yourself an MBA while you're learning how to start a company. And you'll probably make a ton of friends along the way and learn a lot about yourself. Best-case scenario is you do all of that, and get really rich."