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The latest news on Startups from Business Insider

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    brian chesky

    Three out of four startups fail, and a full 90% of those in the tech sector don't survive. The startups that become successful typically require exceptional leadership — and a lot of luck.

    In a recent Quora thread, users answered the question, "What separates the top 10% of startup CEOs from the rest?"

    Robert Scoble, renowned blogger and analyst for Rackspace, gave a definitive answer based on his extensive experience with CEOs, and others jumped in to share some thoughts. We'll look at some highlights, including all nine of Scoble's leadership traits.

    According to Scoble, an elite startup CEO...

    1. [Is] good at hiring AND firing. Whenever you find a really great CEO you find someone who has a knack for hiring. That means selling other people on your dream or your business. Especially when it doesn't seem all that important or seems very risky. I used to work for a CEO who was awesome at hiring, but couldn't fire anyone. Doomed the business. Many of the best CEOs get others to follow no matter what.

    2. Builds a culture, not just a company. The best CEOs, like Tony Hsieh at Zappos, build a culture that gives everyone a mission. They stand out in a sea of boring companies.

    3. Listens and acts. Many CEOs want to tell you what they are doing, but the best ones listen to feedback, and, even, do something with that feedback. My favorites even give credit back. Mike McCue, CEO of Flipboard, tells audiences that I was responsible for a couple of key features.

    4. Is resilient. AirBnB took 1,000 days for its business to start working. Imagine if they gave up on day 999? The best CEOs find a way to dig in and keep going even when it seems everything is going against them.

    5. Has vision. Let's be honest. There are a lot of nice CEOs, but if you don't have the ability to build a product that matters to people, then no one will remember your name. Can you see a way to make billions with wearable computers? I guarantee some can, and they are the CEOs who will bring me interesting new products.

    6. Stays focused. A friend who worked for Steve Jobs told me that what really made him different is that Jobs wouldn't let teams move off their tasks until they really finished them.

    7. Speaks clearly. A great CEO is clear, crisp, concise. Quotable. So many people just aren't good at telling a story in a way that's easy to remember. The best are awesome at this. Since it's the CEO's job to tell the company's story, it's extremely important that this person be able to clearly tell a story about the company and the product.

    8. Is a customer advocate. The best CEOs understand deeply what customers want and when they are making anti-customer choices.

    9. [Is] good at convincing other people. CEOs have to deal with conflicting interest groups. Customers often want something investors don't. So, a good CEO is really great at convincing other people to get on board, even at changing people's opinions.

    Now we'll summarize some of the other best answers, with our own numbers added.

    Mark Suster, a venture capitalist at GRP Partners and a former entrepreneur, thinks the best type of startup CEO...

    10. Pays attention to detail. Someone in charge of an early stage business needs to be hands on in every aspect of the business, from the financial side to the design side.

    11. Is skilled at adapting to change. The best entrepreneurs are able to adjust their product and business model to unexpected changes in the market and consumer demand.

    12. Can make decisions quickly and on their own. Corporate executives often have the benefits of time and extensive analysis before making a business decision, but entrepreneurs need to deal with a deluge of choices every day.

    13. Is intensely competitive. Elite startup CEOs wants to win major deals, acquire the best employees, and sign up every partner — all at the expense of the competition.

    Other Quora users experienced in the startup world also weighed in. They've seen that the greatest kind of entrepreneur...

    14. Is courageous. Every entrepreneur needs to have at least some significant amount of courage to start a business, but the best ones are brave enough to stand out, make enemies (if they have to), and make unpopular decisions. —Tolis Dimopoulos

    15. Doesn't micro-manage. While great entrepreneurs influence every aspect of their companies, they find ways to build machines that can deliver results on scale. —Henning Moe

    16. Never stops executing his vision. Startup CEOs shouldn't trust that others will stay true to their vision without their constant influence, at least for the company's first few years. —Henning Moe

    17. Is generous. People will be more willing to help startup CEOs who have track records of taking care of employees, partners, vendors, and clients. —Anonymous

    SEE ALSO: 12 Documentaries On Netflix That Will Make You Smarter About Business

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Buffalo,_New_York

    A new startup contest has emerged called 43North. This business incubator is offering $5 million in cash prizes to applicants who can create an innovative new business idea.

    Six $500,000 awards and four $250,000 awards will be allocated to the runners-up. 

    This is one of the largest cash prizes in history for these types of competitions.

    Winners are guaranteed the incubator space but must operate in Buffalo, N.Y., for one year.

    Jordan Levy and Ron Schreiber are the venture capitalists managing this initiative, which is part of New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pledge of $1 billion in state funding for economic growth in this area of the state. 

    Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are focusing on cities like Buffalo and Detroit to bolster the local economy and fuel innovation. Factors like low-rent costs, less competition from Silicon Valley stalwarts like Google and Facebook, and a higher chance to quickly move up the executive ranks illustrate the potential for young tech enthusiasts to thrive in these environments. 

    You can learn more about the contest here. 

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    buzz words tech startup

    The first thing to know about getting acquired? There's no one route. In fact, at their SXSW panel in Austin, Texas, "The 5 Secrets to Getting Acquired,"HelloWorld chief executive officer Matt Wise and Gabe Karp of Detroit Venture Partners opened their presentation by saying that there are no secrets.

    Says Wise, "The majority of people who get acquired are dumb lucky and many are just dumb."

    That said, there's still a lot to be learned, especially from this duo. HelloWorld is a mobile engagement platform that's been involved in six acquisitions in just the past two years. Karp hails from a Detroit-based VC firm with the ambitious goal of rebuilding that shattered city through seeding new tech companies.

    Here are their tips for how you can make your company look appealing for a buy.

    1. Get your team in shape.

    Great ideas are common, says Karp: "The rarity is the person with the team to make it happen." From an acquirer's point of view, Wise says, he never buys a company for its product: "I'm buying the team." It's vital for young entrepreneurs to recognize their skill sets and hire employees to make up for their gaps. Wise recalled being impressed with a company once because one partner had designed missile intercept software: "He must be smart! He shot down missiles!"

    2. Hone your soundbites.

    If you get 20 minutes into a pitch and the acquirer doesn't know what your company does, you're in trouble. "We've sat through many presentations where we have no idea what they're saying," Wise says. Speaking in catchy soundbites is great for clarity and brevity — acquirers aren't always experts in your field and they don't like having their time wasted. Something brief and memorable will work wonders during the closed-door meetings after your initial conversation. "What are they going to tell their partners in 30 seconds?" Wise says. The snappy, clear and quick pitch, of course.

    3. Be appealing.

    Take only your most charismatic people to your most important meetings. Your partners might be brilliant, but if they are unsociable or downright strange, it can put business deals in jeopardy. "They have to live with you," Wise says. "If you're emotional or irrational, it's done." Of course, your company itself needs to be appealing. "Acquirers don't want to see a strong profit margin early on," Karp says. "They want to see a model that will be profitable at scale." No one wants to buy you for what you are today — they want to buy you for what you'll be tomorrow.

    4. Get your sh-- together.

    In the panel, Wise recalled a time when a few small discrepancies in a company's financial history almost killed a deal and even slashed its asking price. "The moment the perception [about you] changes, the purchase price changes," he says. Wise adds that the landscape can be brutal and the smallest bumps hurt. "It's tremendously unfair, but it's a reality," he said. Being organized, informed about your industry, and ready to withstand high levels of scrutiny is what gives comfort to investors.

    5. Go make friends.

    In the end, it all comes back to connections. "It is hugely important how you network," Wise says. Be prepared to build relationships over months (or even years) before you plan to sell and plant the seeds you hope to sow. If you are careful not to push too hard and create the right connections, you'll make friends in the right places. One day, one of those friends will call you to check on your progress and only later will you realize that he or she wants to make an acquisition. Wise agreed: "Get an understanding of what they're looking for and get on their radar."

    SEE ALSO: 17 Traits That Distinguish The Best Startup CEOs

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    RxRevu Carm Huntress

    There's no question about it, the health care industry is going through major changes and people are demanding lower costs.

    The time is ripe for a year-old Denver-based startup called RxRevu, founded by a medical doctor, Dr. Kevin O'Brien.

    RxRevu offers a way to make sure that patients aren't being overcharged for their prescriptions. It uses a massive drug database to ensure a doctor isn't prescribing a more expensive drug when a less expensive one is equally effective.

    CEO Carm Huntress says that the company's goal is to "organize the world's pharmaceutical data" and to use better technology to change the way doctors, hospitals and insurance companies look at prescriptions.

    That sounds a lot like Google with its mission to"organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful."

    Americans spend $300 billion a year on prescriptions and about $55.8 billion is spent on more-expensive drugs when a less expensive version will do, according to research by prescription management company Express Scripts, reports Forbes.

    RxRevu isn't always looking for generics, but in some cases different drugs altogether. It maps a particular patient's health history to all of the published research on the drug's effectiveness, factoring in the latest published information, says Huntress.

    It may conclude that a patient should try a different and less expensive drug to treat high blood pressure or cholesterol or diabetes than the one the doctor has prescribed.

    In a trial run in analyzing Aetna's claims database, covering 10 million people, RxRevu discovered $387 million worth of savings on drug prescriptions, which averaged out to be $300-$500 per patient, it says.

    This is a somewhat dangerous endeavor, too. Pharmaceutical companies spend a lot of money wooing doctors to get them to prescribe profitable, brand-name drugs.

    "Some people have said to us, 'You're going to have to have body guards with what you are doing,'" Huntress jokes.

    The downside for consumers is that this tech isn't available directly to them — yet. Currently it's licensed only to insurance companies and to app developers who want to write apps with the data.

    The startup is very young, though, founded in early 2013, and has plans for more app development. It's also been accepted into StartUp Health,  an incubation program chaired by former Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Authintic Co Founders

    Photo-sharing startup 500px not only wants to ban bad stock photography (down with "women laughing alone over salads!"), it wants to take photo discovery to a new level.

    500px just announced that it has acquired analytics technology company Authintic to help it make personalized recommendations to anyone sifting through its database of 37 million photos.

    Just like Netflix suggests movies you might be interested in, 500px will recommend photos based on prior searches, the kind of photos you've used in the past, and the potential virality of pictures on file (500px tracks engagement on all of its photos). 

    The company wants to make it easier for advertisers, publishers, and marketers to discover (and buy) amazing photography without relying as much on their own search terms, 500px Managing Director Andrew Cherwenka — originally the CEO of Authintic — explains to Business Insider.  

    Last fall, 500px raised $8.8 million from Andreessen Horowitz and others to start more aggressively working on selling the millions of photographs in its database (though we don't have specifics on how much 500px paid for Authintic). Earlier this month, the company launched its licensing site, 500px Prime, for that purpose. 

    500px Prime sells all its photos for a fixed fee of $250 for universal rights and Cherwenka expects that the recommendation features enabled through Authintic will help make it much easier for people to find pictures they want. The site also has a rather unheard of licensing policy, in that it gives the photographers a hefty 70% cut of sales (if you sell your photos on Getty, for example, you might only get a measly 30% commission). 

    "The photos are beautiful, we're using data in new and better ways, and the we have the utmost simplicity throughout the whole process," Cherwenka says. 

    Here's an example of some of the photos you could find on 500px:

    500px

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    entrepreneur beauty doodle

    There are almost twice as many male entrepreneurs as female ones in the United States, and that imbalance is seen throughout the world.

    The gap has been attributed to long-standing gender biases that have become so ingrained in our culture that, even today, both male and female investors prefer pitches from men over women, according to a new report from the Proceedings of the National Academy on Sciences (PNAS).

    Additionally, attractive men fare significantly better than their less attractive counterparts, the report finds, while looks have no notable effect on how a female entrepreneur is perceived.

    The report is based on three studies conducted by Alison Wood Brooks of Harvard Business School, Laura Huang of UPenn's Wharton School, and Sarah Wood Kearney and Fiona E. Murray of MIT's Sloan School.

    For the first study, the team analyzed three pitch competitions over the course of three years. Each contestant had about five minutes to narrate a series of slides outlining his or her business plan, a practice that has become venture capitalists' preferred standard of judging entrepreneurs.

    The randomly selected test group was composed of 70 male entrepreneurs and 20 female entrepreneurs. A successful pitch was defined as one that received a prize, and the physical attractiveness of the test subjects was judged by a separate panel of 60 angel investors unaware of the competitions' results.

    When weighing just the factor of gender, male entrepreneurs were 60% more likely to achieve pitch competition success than female entrepreneurs. And attractive men were 36% more likely to achieve success than their average-looking counterparts.

    The results remained the same regardless of differences in the business sector presented, the pitch competitions evaluated, the time the pitch was given, and how long the pitch lasted.

    In the second study, the research team recruited a nationally representative sample of 521 Americans, of which 47% were female. It collected real startup pitches from a university competition and had a panel of 12 expert investors rank each pitch on a scale of 1 to 7 for how likely it was to succeed. Participants were paid based on the accuracy of their choices, in an effort to control any conscious biases.

    The sample group sat at a computer and watched a pitch slideshow narrated by either a randomly assigned male or female voice. Although the voices presented identical pitches, 68% of participants chose to fund the ventures pitched by a male voice and only 32% of participants chose to fund the ventures pitched by a female voice.

    The age and gender of the participating judges had no effect on decision-making. 

    For the final study, 194 Americans (57% female) were shown just one narrated pitch video accompanied by a gender-matched photograph previously judged as either attractive or not. The researchers asked participants to rate how likely they were to invest in the company after hearing the pitch, as well as other qualifying questions.

    Once again, male-narrated pitches significantly outscored identical pitches narrated by women, and those from men were also found to be more "persuasive,""fact based," and "logical." 

    On a scale of 1 to 7 (7 meaning very likely to invest), attractive men averaged 5.21, while less attractive men averaged 4.59. Meanwhile, unattractive women scored slightly higher than attractive women, but within the margin of error. 

    The report found a clear correlation between gender and success, and the importance of good looks for men.

    The researchers acknowledged that previous research suggests women entrepreneurs become more appealing when they pitch companies traditionally associated with old gender stereotypes (beauty, fashion, and cleaning, for example), but they did not ask participants to explain their decisions.

    Even without explanation, the report suggests that entrepreneurialism is still seen as a man's venture, and both men and women cling to this bias.

    SEE ALSO: Care.com's CEO Sheila Marcelo: Entrepreneurs Need To Be 'Disagreeable'

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    richard branson vomit comet zero G

    Leadership is not in your DNA.

    There is no genetic code for becoming a chief executive or a business owner. We're all born with a clean slate, more or less. What happens next — your childhood, your upbringing, your education, your experience, your behavior, the choices you make — determines what you become. And what you make of yourself.

    It might surprise you to know that growing up with nothing does not diminish your chances of accomplishing great things in your life. On the contrary, growing up with adversity, in a competitive environment, can have a positive impact on your career. It all depends on how you use that experience.

    So how about we throw out all the conventional wisdom and popular myths about where leaders and entrepreneurs come from and focus on what really matters: the things you have control over today that can really make a difference in what you achieve going forward.

    While there is no common blueprint for success, there are common themes I see again and again in those who do exceptionally well.

    Here are seven things that, in my experience, every great entrepreneur knows. Most importantly, they're all within your reach.

    1. There is no four-hour — or 40-hour — workweek

    You get out of life what you put in. There are no shortcuts to success. There's no fad, no silver bullet, no miracle pill that will help you achieve great things without working your tail off. Period.

    2. How to focus

    The first rule of a startup is to focus. First you focus on coming up with a breakthrough concept. Then you focus on demonstrating it. Then you focus on delivering it and gaining customer traction. Then you focus on scaling the business. Focus is how things get done. If you can't focus on what matters and shut out the noise, better not quit your day job.

    3. Themselves

    We spend a good part of our lives trying to find ourselves and figure out what we want to do for a living. That comes with the territory. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. You'll know it when you find it. It's important you do because that's when you'll have the opportunity to do great things.

    4. How to influence others

    Great entrepreneurs are passionate about their work. There's always something they need to prove or achieve. It's that sort of desperate obsession that drives them and motivates others. It's instinctive and contagious. Leadership characteristics, emotional intelligence, extrovert/introvert, employee engagement — you can save all that for later or, better still, never.

    5. How business works

    They're not born with the knowledge, but at some point, every great entrepreneur learns how business works. Capitalization, P&L, sales, customers, relationships, negotiations — if that scares you, welcome to the big leagues. You can maybe delegate some of it, but you still have to understand it first.

    6. BS when they hear it

    There's a line from "Star Wars" that really resonated with me: "The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded." The same is true of BS. I've seen dozens of executives and entrepreneurs surround themselves with sugarcoating, self-serving yes-men and indulge in groupthink. Sooner or later, it always takes them down. Always.

    7. There's no reward without risk

    Everyone calls herself an entrepreneur these days, but if you're not risking anything, you're no entrepreneur. If you want to be successful on your own, at some point, you have to cut the cord. If there were an easier or safer way, everyone would do it. I'm telling you, there isn't.

    Truth is, entrepreneurship isn't really a "dip your toe in the water and see how it feels" sort of endeavor. If you're not willing to go all in, you might consider getting a real job. But if you think you've got what it takes, these are pretty fundamental concepts you should strive to understand and embrace.

    SEE ALSO: 17 Traits That Distinguish The Best Startup CEOs

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    henry blodget jim bankoff lockhart steele vox media at ignition 2013

    Vox Media, parent company of popular websites The Verge and SB Nation, is growing quickly. It recently announced the launch of a new website, Vox.com, led by prominent reporter Ezra Klein, and it's starting to beef up Curbed Network, an acquisition Vox Media made last November.

    Curbed site Eater.com is a local restaurant guide that's now branching out into full-on restaurant reviews site. Eater has hired former Bloomberg writer Ryan Sutton to be its New York food critic. The Village Voice's Robert Sietsema is also joining Eater as an ethnic food critic in New York. In addition, Atlanta Magazine's Bill Addison is joining Eater as a Restaurant Editor, flying around the country to review the best places to dine. Eater generates about 2 million of Vox Media's 45 million monthly uniques, according to ComScore. 

    We caught up with Jim Bankoff, CEO and Chairman of Vox Media, about his company and the digital industry.

    Below is the lightly edited Q&A with Bankoff.

    Business Insider: You were an AOL executive who co-founded entertainment site TMZ. Now you run Vox, which has completely different, more serious content than the gossip site. Why the 180 in your career?

    Jim Bankoff: It's important to note that TMZ was a joint venture between AOL and Time Warner Telepictures. The other thing to be clear about is that it was really Harvey Levin who ran the editorial direction and who made TMZ what it was and what it still does to this day. 

    While sure, the Vox properties don't do anything remotely close to what TMZ does, what we have in common is we believed (when I joined Vox) that publishing was changing. It was becoming more social. It was becoming more real-time, personality and voice-driven. TMZ is certainly all of those things. 

    Business Insider: Vox sites don't do slideshows, listicles, or punchy headlines. How does that affect traffic? How much social traffic does Vox Media get?

    JB: We get a lot of social referral traffic. Like most publishers, it’s a high-growth part of what we’re doing. We think it’s great. A saying around here is "substance is viral." People are sharing our stuff on Facebook and LinkedIn. We really pride ourselves on being able to convert that social traffic over time.

    What we don’t try to do is game the algorithm. We didn’t do that in search and we don’t do that in social. Having said that, word of mouth or social media is critical. It’s an important part of being relevant. We believe whole-heartedly in not gaming it or dumbing our content down. Ultimately, we think Facebook and Twitter as platforms don’t believe in that either. Success will be found by companies creating the best stuff, not those who are doing something artificial to change that. 

    Business Insider: What's Vox Media's traffic like?

    JB: Traffic is booming across all of our verticals. In 2013 we were the fastest-growing publisher across the ComScore 100. 

    vox media traffic

    *ComScore numbers show SB Nation's traffic was at an all-time high in January 2014 with 30 million monthly uniques. Curbed.com's traffic also increased from December to January. The Verge's traffic dipped from 10 million uniques in December to 8 million uniques in January; other Vox properties fell during those months as well. But over the course of the year, all of Vox's media is trending up nicely.

    BI: Vox Media has raised $61.1 million. That's more than Business Insider ($30.6 million), Gawker (bootstrapped), and BuzzFeed ($46.3 million). Does that ever worry you and is it necessary?

    JB: We think the biggest media companies of this generation are being built right now. Every generation has its own set of brands on mediums that are built specifically for them: magazine brands, TV brands, and now Interactive brands. We're building them across several consumer verticals. We want to make sure we take full-advantage of that opportunity. We’re not the only ones who want to build the biggest media site for this generation.

    One could argue there hasn’t been enough investment in creating this opportunity across the industry. We’re happy to be ones that are pursuing the industry aggressively.

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Startup Entrepreneur

    This Friday, a startup CEO and a lawyer are putting on an event in Palo Alto to educate startup employees on the ways their employers, and their employers' VC investors, may be screwing them over when it comes to equity and compensation.

    Last week, we published an extremely popular story about three ways that can happen.

    To recap: 

    • Employees don't understand the difference between common stock, which they own, and preferred stock, which their company's investors own. This can leave employees earning less from their company getting bought than they might have imagined.

    • Employees don't bother to ask how many shares outstanding a company has. As a result, they don't have any idea how much their shares are worth.

    • Employees don't understand vesting triggers. As a result, they might get canned after an acquisition, and not make as much money as they thought they would.

    But a little knowledge about the intricacies of startup financing isn't just about not getting screwed over.

    Sometimes you can use it to your advantage during the time when a startup is trying to hire you.

    Chris Zaharias is the startup CEO putting on the event with lawyer Mary Russell. Zaharias is a 22-year veteran of startups incluing Netscape, Efficient Frontier, Omniture, Yahoo, and Triggit. Now he's the CEO of his own company, SearchQuant.

    In an email, he told this story about a friend of his who didn't have a clue about something called "double triggers," got a clue, and then doubled his equity stake in the startup that wanted to hire him.

    Recently, a longtime sales manager at a top 5 global software company was given a VP Sales job offer at a 100-person startup.

    He reviewed his offer with me, and when I asked him if he'd been offered a Single or Double Trigger, he said "What's a trigger?"

    I explained that a trigger clause forward-vests (or accelerates) some/all of your as-then-unvested options should (1) the company be acquired (Single Trigger); and (2) your employment be terminated (straight fired or Involuntary Termination - look it up here, Double Trigger).

    If you have a Double Trigger, then neither your company nor the acquiring company can screw you out of your remaining, unvested options EVEN IF they no longer have a role/need for you after the acquisition.  Back to the VP Sales candidate: when he asked for a Double Trigger, they said that as a matter of corporate policy they don't offer anyone Double Triggers.

    But guess what? They doubled the % of equity in the offer letter.  True story from Q1 2014, right here in the Valley. 

    The point is, startup employees should be just as sophisticated about how startup compensation works as startup CEOs and investors are. Sometimes, like in the story above, that sophistication will mean a much bigger payout if or when that startup gets bought.

    SEE ALSO: Startup Employees Think They Are Going To Get Rich — Then A Horror Story Like This Happens

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Arya Bina

    At first glance, discount travel site Cheap Travel Hunter looks like it could be any other online travel agency on the Web.

    Here's how it's different: Cheap Travel Hunter's CEO isn't old enough to drink. He's just barely old enough to vote.

    Arya Bina started the company back in 2010, back when he was 16.

    Today, he's 19, and Cheap Travel Hunter is doing well enough to employ 20 people in the U.S. and abroad.

    According to Web metrics site SimilarWeb, Cheap Travel Hunter is the 2,412nd largest site in its category. SimilarWeb estimates that 75,000 people visited the site in February. Travel sites usually convert at least 1% of their visitors into paying customers. So you can figure Cheap Travel Hunter is selling tickets to several hundred people every month.

    It's doing totally OK. 

    And that's more than impressive work for a teenager, right?

    We caught up with Arya over email and asked him how he got his start (he had to be convinced), what his friends think of his company (they don't really get it), and what advice he has for other teenagers as they enter corporate America (get ready to work for someone else).

    Here's that exchange.

    Business Insider: How'd you get started?

    Arya Bina: I got started back in May of 2010 when I was 16 years old when a friend of mine convinced me that it would be a good idea to start a travel agency, I was reluctant to start the venture but he convinced me. We got our start with a build it yourself website, a phone, and an ad in the local paper. After some time I came across the concept of internet marketing, that's when I decided to rethink our business model completely and invest heavily (both financially and time wise) into the concept of being a completely online travel agency (OTA). Unfortunately my partner did not feel the same way about my expansionary mindset and we decided to part ways shortly after I began executing and implementing the ideas of the new business model. Since then the business has grown to employ over 20 people both here in the U.S.A. and overseas.

    BI: What do other teens think of your business? Adults?

    Bina: I can say that many of the people I interact with do not know what I do for my income, I try not to show off, but my close friends which I am very open with are very supportive of my business and I'd like to think they are proud of my accomplishments. However most teens do not have an entrepreneurial mind-set and lack some of the general financial knowledge to comprehend the scope of an operation such as mine. As for the adults around me I am very lucky to be surrounded by people who live and breathe business, they are very supportive and I can always rely on them when I need consultation.

    BI: What have been your biggest mistakes?

    Bina: 1. Hiring the wrong people. 2. Trying to micro-manage. 3. Giving up on new ideas or new concepts too easily. (Which is easy to do when most investments are money-pits when you first start)  4. Focusing on money.

    BI: What were some lessons you learned?

    Bina: Probably one of the most important lessons that I've learned, which is hard for many people to understand (just as it was hard for me to come to terms with!) is that business is not all about the income statement. A lot of times it's better to set up a system that is a little more costly but is scale-able in the long run. A lot of small business find ways to pinch pennies in their operations but then those methods are not scale-able on a larger scale and that's how they get stuck being a small business.

    BI: What surprised you the most about the world of business?

    Bina: I have always been surrounded by people who have owned their own business, large and small so there were not many big surprises, but two things which I have noticed is that the mentality of small business owners, and those of large corporations differs 100% completely. The second is that things in business change extremely fast, and it's not enough anymore to just try and keep up, if you want to compete and grow you must be not one but two steps ahead of the competition in your industry especially one as competitive as travel.

    BI: Have you had much success? Can you quantify it?

    Bina: I believe I've had a lot of success. I measure success by the exceptional team of employees I've built, as well as the growth the business has experienced in customer base, and revenue. We are currently on track to control a respectable amount of the discount travel booking market in the next 5 years God willing.

    BI: What can teens expect from corporate America?

    Bina: Teens can expect corporate America to turn them into employees, working for the best interests of their superiors, the board of directors, and shareholders. Ultimately everybody works for somebody, even the CEO of the largest company in the world is still held accountable for his job. It's not a bad thing working for someone else, but if you have other ideas don't be afraid to invest heavily in yourself and go for your dreams.

    Statistically most of us will end up working in some type of organization. Even still teens should aim to be the best that they can be in their field of interest, and aim for the top, focusing on constantly moving up the chain of command throughout their careers. It's never a good idea to settle!

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    GitHub office tour

    With its cool office, sky-high revenues, and massive $100 million funding round, social coding startup GitHub is one of Silicon Valley's darlings.

    But the recent tweets of a former GitHub designer, Julie Ann Horvath, make it out to have a toxic work environment, particularly for women.

    "I've been harassed by 'leadership' at GitHub for two years," she alleges in a tweet. "And I am the first developer to quit."

    She also tweeted that she regrets defending GitHub's culture to feminists for the last two years.

    This isn't the first time that Horvath has spoken out about sexism in tech. Not only has she written about it on her blog, but she was also the leading force behind GitHub's new Passion Project series, which celebrates female developers by inviting them to talk about the work that excites them.

    Her string of tweets seem to be sparked by posts on the anonymous sharing network, Secret. The comment on Secret that Horvath linked to in one of her tweets accuses her of "raging" against professional criticism, lying about her contributions, and spreading rumors.

    Here are some of her tweets:

    GitHub representative Liz Clinkenbeard told Business Insider that the company is "looking into it." Business Insider has reached out Horvath for comment. 

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    zappos happy employees

    If you've ever felt that your job consisted of a series of never-ending tasks, it may be more to do with your way of thinking than the job itself.

    "Missions, Not Responsibilities," a recent article by Kevin Zhang, takes a look at why startups are effective at mobilizing a small group of people to do big things, even when larger organizations might not be able to. At a startup, a lean team is working hard toward a clear mission everyone believes in. Knowing that they're the bearers of this mission empowers them to not only be more proactive, but also to take more ownership in their day-to-day (without being told to do so).

    In contrast, many established organizations may seem to have more structured approaches that appear task or responsibility-oriented. The emphasis here is on your specific to-dos or the bullets on your job description — as long as those are checked off, your next promotion or a better performance review will be in your hands. Though this may push some of us to get things done, it isn't very motivating for the long-term.

    At mature companies, many jobs are just a checklist of daily tasks. A receptionist will answer the door, take messages, and forward phone calls. But at a startup, someone in that role might instead be empowered to think about the first impression your company makes. It's not just answering the door, it's how we greet potential customers, employees, and partners. It's a branding, marketing, and public relations opportunity, not a bland or trite chore.

    We think this idea goes beyond working at startups — whether you're looking to show ownership of the job you're interviewing for or want to get a little more excited about your current gig, you'll benefit by thinking about your job in terms of how it contributes to your company's overall mission, not each individual task independent of itself. You'll feel more upbeat when lending a hand in the name of a common goal, and you'll feel like there's more in it for you than just a paycheck.

    The best way you can incorporate this entrepreneurial mindset into your current role is to think broadly about how your work fits into the context of the company's goals. Proactively thinking about next steps and giving new ideas a trial run may also show your understanding of where the business wants to be.

    A simple change in perspective might just take you from to the drawing board to mission accomplished.

    SEE ALSO: Why Business Is Personal And Relationships Matter

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    chris zaharias

    Chris Zaharias has been a startup employee and founder for 22 years. Now he's encouraging fellow Silicon Valley workers to stand up and ask their bosses some important questions. 

    Often, only a few employees get rich when a startup exits. Many are shocked to discover how little their shares are really worth because their employers don't provide transparency around fundraises, internal structure and valuations.

    Zaharias wants to change that by empowering employees with knowledge.

    Recently, Zaharias held a "pep rally" where he presented an "Employee Equity Bill of Rights." The event was only for employees; it banned startup founders and VCs. Re/Code's Nellie Bowles was there. She says Zaharias called for a "Rosa Parks" moment, where all employees stand up for themselves, together. 

    “Stocks are the only way engineers can get rich and retire. Remember that,"Bowles quotes Zaharias. "To live here in Palo Alto, you need about $1 million dollars in equity gains. And given that only one in five startups are going to amount to something, you need to get that to happen."

    Zaharias's fighting words are overly dramatic. Comparing Silicon Valley to the Civil Rights movement is warped.

    But his mission is spot on. Zaharias says two-thirds of people don’t know the number of shares outstanding in their companies. As a result, when their company is sold they can end up with much less than they thought. 

    Zaharia is simply asking for transparency from startups to its employees about how much their stock is really worth. This is a completely reasonable demand.

    Here's the Bill of Rights Zaharias wants to see enforced:

    The employees of startups have expressed a desire to set forth certain rights to best ensure the security of their ownership in the value they create. This is a draft proposal of such rights, which we hope will gather many collaborators and become the standards to which startup employee equity holders can hold any management or investment teams to account.

    Right to Know.

    Company information on capitalization and valuation, being necessary to the employee’s negotiation of a fair compensation package, shall be provided to the employee with his or her equity offer and after each dilution and valuation event.

    Right to Value.

    The right of the employee to earn the full value of his or her grant shall not be limited by unreasonable vesting terms.

    Right to Keep Vested Shares.

    The right of the employee to hold vested equity up to an acquisition or public offering shall not be violated, and no forfeiture, repurchase or other provisions shall allow the company to seize vested equity of current or former employees.

    Right to Tax Benefits.

    The employee shall enjoy the right to all tax benefits, and shall not be subjected to tax penalties due to company negligence, at grant, vesting, settlement, company acquisition or sale of stock.

    Right to Enforce.

    The right to enforce this Bill of Rights shall not be violated by company limits on access to information or legal counsel necessary for such enforcement.

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    brian chesky

    Airbnb is reportedly in talks to raise funds that would value the online home and apartment marketplace at more than $10 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports

    The round, which will likely be led by private-equity firm TPG, could total between $400 million and $500 million.

    A $10 billion valuation for Airbnb would make it more valuable than large hotel operators like Wyndham Worldwide Corp, which is valued at $9.4 billion. It would also be more valuable than Hyatt Hotels Corp., which is valued at $8.4 billion.

    That makes sense given that as of November 2013, Airbnb was already on track to become the world's largest hotelier. In December, the company listed more than 550,000 properties worldwide and announced that it had topped 10 million guest stays, with more than half occurring in 2013 alone.

    This round comes at a time when the spotlight is on Airbnb thanks to people trashing hosts apartments with feces, and throwing sex parties

    SEE ALSO:  THE SILICON VALLEY 100: The Coolest People In Tech Right Now

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    Mark Cuban Basketball

    I’m not a huge fan of Silicon Valley. It reminds me so much of Hollywood and the movie and TV industry.

    In Hollywood every one will talk and listen to you about your project.  But while they are standing there, right in front of you, they are not looking at you. They are looking past you to the next project where they can raise/sell more.  Where they can be a bigger star. There is always a bigger fish. Who ever is standing in front of them is hopefully just the bait.

    Silicon Valley has become the exact same thing these days. No one wants to literally start from scratch in a garage and build something. No one wants to bootstrap a business to profitability.  Those are such archaic notions these days.

    Like Hollywood, today’s nouveau entrepreneurs are looking past the pitch right in front of them to the next source of capital who will pay a higher valuation. Or if they are discussing a job, they are looking past the interviewer in front of them, already contemplating whether or not the stock options they get in this company will match the value on exit of the next gig they could get.

    In essence start up employees are marking to market the stock options they haven’t earned yet against the options they haven’t yet received  in companies they haven’t yet heard of .  It’s the Back to the Future arbitrage. Welcome to Silicon Valley.

    In silicon valley it seems like anyone who went to Cal or Stanford feels like they deserve a minimum startup valuation of 8mm dollars or more. Why ?  Seriously ? Why ? Because they went to Cal or Stanford.  That’s why.   It is one of the key reasons many folks feel like there is a bubble in Silicon Valley. The starting points of valuations are crazy.

    I too was of the opinion that valuations were in a bubble. I am no longer of that opinion ? Because I was slow it took me a bit to come around to fully understanding what Silicon Valley does best.

    Silicon Valley as a source of capital is no better or worse than any other big city. There are plenty of sources of capital everywhere.  Yes, they may be better at writing 40mm dollar checks to startups (Color anyone ? ). But start up capital is not their secret sauce.

    What Silicon Valley does better than anyone is create exits. They know how to get people who they have made money for to turn over a lot of that money to buy the companies they have invested in. They know how to put on a show to get a company to an IPO. They know how to go out and get hundreds of millions of dollars to bridge companies with 10s of millions in revenues to their IPO and more importantly to make sure the IPO happens.

    So if you want your new tech corridor to play in the big leagues with Silicon Valley and its VCs , don’t stress about capital for entrepreneurs to create companies. Stress about capital that will buy  provide exits for companies  or that can get them to a liquidity creating IPO.

    And it doesn’t have to be billion dollar exits. Millions. Tens of Millions. Small IPOs.  If you can help enough companies get to capital that takes them to the big leagues or gives them an exit, it will be like financial gravity. It will pull entrepreneurs to you.

    So if you want to be the next Silicon Valley, don’t promote the startups you have in your city/state. Many of them are going to go out of business before the ads hit or the conferences happen. Brag about the exits and how there is capital waiting for amazing entrepreneurs to reach their goals.

    What changed ? First of all the IPO market is finally starting to open up a tiny bit for tech deals that raise under 50mm dollars and are not “hot” companies or household names. 8mm vs any IPO is still a good thing.

    Read more posts on Blog Maverick »

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    ann miura ko

    It was an exciting year for tech in Silicon Valley, so we've decided to highlight a few women who we think have had particularly awesome achievements.

    They've created interesting startups, snagged new positions at great companies, and have had major milestones at their own.

    Aarthi Ramamurthy

    Founder, Lumoid

    Aarthi Ramamurthy is one of the most notable female entrepreneurs out there today. She spent six years at Microsoft working on its popular Visual Studio software development tool and on Xbox Live. 

    Before founding Y Combinator-backed Lumoid, a startup for letting people test-drive electronics before buying them, she co-founded a bra-fitting company called True&Co.



    Grace Garey

    Co-founder and marketing, Watsi

    This year, Watsi became the first charitable company to raise over $1 million in funding from traditional angel investors in Silicon Valley.

    It is also the first Y-Combinator company to nab investor Paul Graham for its board of directors. Watsi allows anyone to give as little as $5 to fund someone's medical care, and 100% of the money is donated. The mission of this startup is so beautiful, you just have to root for its success.

    Before joining Watsi, Garey did refugee research in Ghana, worked at a hospital in India, and did humanitarian advocacy in D.C. 



    Erin Teague

    Director of product management, Yahoo

    Erin Teague worked as the growth product manager for the mobile-only social network Path for two years and is responsible for the company's astounding user growth in 2013. In the spring, the app was growing by 1 million new users per week. It hit the 10-million-user mark in April. She worked on the product team at Twitter for two years before joining the Path team. 

    Last fall, she joined Yahoo as a director of product management.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Erin Teague

    Silicon Valley is home to rockstars like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

    But over the last year, many new faces made a name for themselves in Silicon Valley.

    Some of these unfamiliar faces are trying to tackle HIV, whereas others are tasked with leading major divisions at Apple.

     

    Angela Ahrendts, Denise Young Smith

    Head of Retail; Head of Human Resources, Apple

    In October 2013, Apple announced the hiring of former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts as the company's new head of retail.

    Then, in February 2014, Apple appointed Denise Young Smith to lead its worldwide human resources division. The pair are in charge of the future of two of Apple's most important assets: its chain of stores and its talent.

    (It's also great to see Apple shaking up its previously male-dominated top ranks.)



    Mike Del Ponte

    Founder, Soma 

    Mike Del Ponte is the genius behind Soma, a sort of Warby Parker of water filters. In July 2013, it closed a $3.7 million round of seed funding led by Baseline Ventures and Forerunner Ventures.

    Soma is targeting people who are tired of ugly Brita water filters and are passionate about sustainability. For every biodegradable water filter it sells, Soma donates money to charity.



    Taro Fukuyama, Ilya Tokhner

    CEO; director of business development, AnyPerk

    After being told he had the worst startup in his Y Combinator batch, Taro Fukuyama had to figure out how to turn the company around. Six pivots later, he landed on AnyPerk. AnyPerk helps put startups on par with Google and Facebook when it comes to perks, offering discounts on things like movie tickets, lift tickets, cell phone plans, Lyft car-sharing rides, and car rentals. 

    Today, AnyPerk has 28 employees. Last March, the startup raised a $1.4 million seed round from Digital Garage, Ben Lewis, Michael Liou, CyberAgent and Shogo Kawada.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dale Carnegie

    If you have the drive to start a business all on you own, you know research beforehand is crucial. The best managers and business owners also know that running a successful organization requires continuous learning and re-examination of ideas.

    If you're already an entrepreneur or plan to start your own business soon, add these books to your reading list. Though many are not "official" business books, they can still help clarify what you need to do to get the to heart of problems, build better relationships and help push your business's success even further.

    On business fundamentals and productivity hacks

    1. "Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable" by Seth Godin

    Godin has written a whole library of business-oriented books. But this is one of his best-loved books among marketing and business professionals — and probably one of the first books you should read before you launch your business plan.

    Godin's ideas are simple but elegantly explained: Your business and product must be a purple cow. If you're not memorable, you probably won't succeed.

    2. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change" by Stephen R. Covey

    Covey was one of the key players in making "proactive" a business buzzword. Even if you just rolled your eyes at the mention of that word, the book is chock-full of wisdom and ideas that have held true even after two decades.

    The author's son Stephen M.R. Covey spoke about the book with U.S. News: "I think it's become even more relevant today," he said. "The world's become more connected, more interdependent, and technology aids all of that. '7 Habits' really moves a person from dependence to independence to interdependence.

    "More than ever we need to be able to understand how to effectively work with people. The common approach today is not what '7 Habits' is teaching, which is a different way of saying: 'How can we work together to achieve and attain something better than either of us could do on our own?'"

    3. "You Already Know How to Be Great: A Simple Way to Remove Interference and Unlock Your Greatest Potential" by Alan Fine with Rebecca R. Merrill

    This book might challenge you to stop reading this article.

    Alan Fine says we spend far too much time looking at external material in hopes of improving ourselves. Instead, you should use the skills and resources you already have to release yourself from paralysis and move forward with your goals.

    On how to develop better people skills

    4. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini, PhD

    You've probably seen this classic book on the bookshelves of everyone from C-level executives to bookworm friends. Don't let "psychology" fool you into thinking the good doctor is waxing theoretical for more than 300 pages. Dr. Cialdini draws on 35 years of research and a three-year study to explain the six universal principles of persuasion.

    5. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie

    Can a non-fiction self help book that's more than 80 years old still be relevant today? Believe it or not, yes.

    Carnegie shares valuable insights about how to read, charm, and influence people and couples them with historical anecdotes. Warren Buffet called it a life-changing read — so yes, it probably belongs on your Kindle.

    Mashable listed Carnegie's book as a source to fix relationship building while networking. "If you have not spent time building relationships during your career," said Jayne Mattson, "Start by reading the best book about relationship building of all time: Dale Carnegie's 'How to Win Friends and Influence People,' which is still one of the most widely read books today on this topic."

    6. "Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time" by Keith Ferrazzi

    You know all about the importance of networking — but the way Ferrazzi frames it, you should be focusing more on nurturing relationships than on "making connections." Learn to reach out to people with Ferrazzi's practical advice and insight and see what a difference it makes in your career and personal life.

    7. "The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey" by Ken Blanchard

    Manager or not, this time-tested mini-manual shows you how to effectively delegate and supervise without compromising your time with family and friends (or even your own job.)

    This book is a fast read, and it will help you adapt better time management skills and — lo and behold — carve out more time for yourself.

    On reflecting on the good, the bad, and the given

    8. "Man's Search for Meaning" by Victor E. Frankl

    This book might be best saved for reading at home or during your commute. Psychiatrist Frankl published this memoir about his time as a prisoner in four different Nazi camps in 1946. It makes this list because of its emphasis on finding one's own meaning and truth, whether that be your professional or personal life.

    Frankl explains we might not be able to avoid suffering or hard times, but we can decide how we process pain and find meaning in it.

    Frankl's book is more than just an inspirational read for some business owners. "Throughout Frankl's analysis of himself and his mental processes as he experienced one of the ugliest times in history, it also encourages professionals to help others find meaning in their work," says Dr. Tim R Love. "Whether you're at a desk job from 9:00 to 5:00 or working the night shift driving the interstate, it's important to find meaning in whatever it is that you do."

    9. "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith

    If you're in the business of, well, business, then you probably have a decent working knowledge of capitalism. Adam Smith's 1776 masterpiece elegantly describes the inner workings of a modern market economy — and you'll be surprised at how relevant his theory remains several centuries later. Plus, you'll be able to give a coherent argument when somebody tries to tell you making a profit is evil.

    On assessing your aspirations and strategizing

    10. "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell

    It's admirable and sensible: If you want to be good at something, observe experts or professionals in your aspirational field/skill/practice and do what they do.

    But it doesn't always work. Malcolm Gladwell argues that culture and environment actually affect our success much more than we'd like to believe. He also brings up the somewhat taboo subject of privilege and how we can help future generations live up to their potential.

    Gladwell's book has caught the attention of many types of people, including professor of mathematics Jason Brown at Dalhousie University in Halifax. "Does full understanding need to precede rote learning? I believe that the answer is 'no' in basic mathematics. Students need to practice, practice, practice essential tasks; some understanding will develop only after the routines are memorized and well-rehearsed," Brown said. "Command of an ability or talent requires repetitive work — no two ways about it."

    11. Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works by A. G Lafley and Roger L. Martin

    As the CEO of Procter & Gamble, Lafley knows a thing or two about strategy (Martin is his strategy advisor and helped co-author this super-informative book.) The two main points that the powerful duo focuses on: Where to play and how to win.

    Their five-point method for "winning" will help any manager or owner hone in on their organization's strengths, challenges and opportunities for growth — and turn these qualities into a strategy that outsmarts the competition.

    12. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don't by Jim Collins

    Jim Collins and his team spent five years following 28 companies trying to identify what made a company ascend to greatness and sustain its success. This book details their findings — and the facts might be hard to swallow. But they're completely game-changing.

    Is your bookshelf big enough for these new additions? Get reading, and I bet you'll find that your business savvy increases dramatically.

    SEE ALSO: 17 Successful Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Productivity Hacks

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    botox

    It's a common for people in the acting, modeling and music industries to feel pressure to maintain a young appearance. Actors and actresses over 30 and 40 complain they cannot get roles. Now, all that anxiety is coming to Silicon Valley.

    In The New Republic, Noam Scheiber illustrates just how severely ageism plagues parts of the tech business in California.

    "Silicon Valley has become one of the most ageist places in America," Scheiber writes.

    Dr. Seth Matarasso, a plastic surgeon that administers Botox treatments in the Bay Area, told Scheiber that he frequently treats middle-aged Silicon Valley workers, saying the following: 

    It's really morphed into, 'Hey, I'm forty years old and I have to get in front of a board of fresh-faced kids. I can't look like I have a wife and two-point-five kids and mortgage.

    But what's more troubling is the fact that even younger workers are approaching Matarasso for cosmetic youth-preserving procedures. According to Scheiber, Matarasso turned away a 26-year-old seeking hair transplants.

    But it's not just about appearance. Older engineers in Silicon Valley are under pressure to compete with younger hackers, proving that they're skills aren't outdated and that they've still got quick and creative programming chops. As one 40-plus developer whose department largely consists of 20-something-year-olds told Scheiber:

    People presume an older developer learned some trade skill five to ten years ago and has been coasting on it ever since.

    There's also an assumption that because a worker is older, he or she won't fit in with the energetic startup culture of Silicon Valley. Consultant Freada Klein told Scheiber the following:

    A number of times, people said or wrote in survey comments something like, 'We don't want anybody's parents in here.' 'It's too weird to have someone as old as my parents reporting to me.'

    This type of ageism in the workplace is illegal, and has been for a long time. It is just as illegal to discriminate against someone over 40 as it is to discriminate against someone who is black or female. It's not clear, however, whether the tech world "gets" that.

    The New Republic story is part of an ongoing discussion that's been present in the developer community for quite some time: What happens to older developers? In a rather lengthy Hacker News thread that surfaced earlier this month, numerous software developers voiced their concerns about what happens once they hit age 30.

    One prominent concern, according to the discussion, is that companies will continue to hire younger, inexperienced workers willing to take on the same assignments for a cheaper salary. 

    The issue of ageism isn't exactly new to the developer community either—back in 2010 entrepreneur Vivvek Wadwha wrote that tech companies prefer to hire younger programmers with less experience.

    Unlike many other fields, it's entirely possible for youngsters to become programming experts without years of formal work experience. As Marc Andreesson, the co-founder of Netscape and one of Silicon Valley's biggest venture capitalists told Schreiber:

    "By the time they're twenty-two, they're already an expert. They've put in the ten thousand hours. But it doesn't happen in other fields ... You can't start designing bridges at age ten."

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    Y Combinator Demo Day took place today at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. The room was packed with hundreds of investors, entrepreneurs and members of the press trying to find the next billion-dollar startup.

    Startup darlings Airbnb and Dropbox are Y Combinator alumni, for example.

    Zynga founder Mark Pincus, SV Angel's Ron Conway, CrunchFund's Michael Arrington, 500 Startups' Dave McClure, early Facebook employee Andrew McCollum, and The Winklevoss twins all attended.

    67 startups gave 2.5-minute presentations. Here is the first batch of rapid-fire pitches that stood out:

    BatteryOS: "You’ve never actually charged a battery to 100%," the founder explained to the audience. His logic: When a battery charges to near-completion, it begins to degrade. A black gunk begins to form in the battery, which eventually destroys it. BatteryOS says it's found a way to charge batteries all the way up without that residue forming. It claims that if Chevy Volt used its product, the car's battery would last eight years longer. 

    "We can change every lithium ion battery on this earth and improve it," the founder said. His company has already signed a deal to ship 20,000 of its batteries.

    batteryosZinc: Zinc is a browser plug-in that a lot of shoppers will love but many websites will hate. It sticks a button with a cheaper price for products on Web checkout pages. The user can click the button to buy the product through Zinc, which uses algorithms to find a better deal for the same product elsewhere on the Web.

    The company boasts an annualized run rate of $2.5 million and says the number of sales it handles doubles every week. "Walmart’s success shows price in most cases trumps everything for consumers," Zinc's founder said.

    zinc demo day yc

    Boostable: Boostable is like Google Ads for people who sell listings on sites like Airbnb or eBay. Boostable lets a poster boost awareness for whatever it's selling by retargeting people on Facebook with the listings. The startup's founder says there are more than 30 million sellers across all marketplaces, and it currently reaches 500,000 with its partners like OpenSky, Airbnb and Ticketleap. 

    boostable yc demo day

    Dating Ring: "Dating should work like Uber," the founders say.

    Dating Ring sends you an on-demand date in real time. All dates are vetted by Dating Ring's matchmakers, which either meet or Skype with every member before setting users up together. Every date costs $20, but the founders say its millennial users are paying that price to find trusted people. Plus, 70% of its users go on a second date.

    The company says its revenue has grown 60% month over month and that it's profitable. It's a desktop-first product, but it's hoping to launch a mobile app soon.

    dating ring

    AirHelp: Most people don't realize they can get money from airlines that either delay or cancel their flights. According to founders, who cite the U.S. Department of Transportation and the EU, a flier can redeem $800 whenever a flight is delayed 3 hours, no matter what airline. If you register your delayed or canceled flight with AirHelp, it'll help you win that money back.  

    The money can be reimbursed up to three years later, and AirHelp is coming up with an easy way to find all the money you've missed out on from poor airline experiences over the past three years. That tool will launch in the next few weeks. AirHelp says it's already gotten close to $1 million from airlines, and it's even taken an airline to court to get users' money back.

    "We're proud to be hated by leading airlines," the founders said.

    airhelp

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