Tag Archives: Start-ups

How refreshing, a non-CS Stanford startup

My friend Dean just launched a startup called DC Revolutions, and it’s NOT a website. Crazy, right?

Dean and his co-founders (all recent Stanford grads) are using their awesome Stanford engineering skills to design a vertical wind turbine that integrates into city streetlights and plays nicely with the existing grid. And it’s a treat to look at, which is the whole point—apparently Americans don’t want big scary windmills anywhere near their homes and neighborhoods, and DC’s new design is anything but scary. It actually looks kinda cute.

Big scary windmills.

Now I don’t know if DC Revolutions will actually revolutionize the energy landscape—you know I’m more of a solar guy myself—but I’m happy to support any effort towards that end, and these guys are making a hell of an effort.

You can support their efforts by giving any amount of money at this site. Do it for the future. Do it for the tax deductions. Whatever. Just do it. Dean will personally thank you if you do. And if he doesn’t, feel free to send him an angry email at deanyoung@dcrevolutions.com.

-Joel

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A New Way to Fly

Have you ever spent an hour or two (or five?) looking for a flight home or back to school?

Look no further. I just found out about a new web start-up (launched this week) that helps you find the perfect flight without the hassle of Orbitz or Expedia. It’s called Hipmunk, it’s been getting rave reviews from CNN and a bunch of other media outlets, and it’s got the cutest company logo I’ve ever seen.

See?

Hipmunk collects flight information from Orbitz.com and presents it to you in a super-clean interface: Available flights are arranged in an intuitive day scheduler-style array (similar to a Gantt chart), and you can choose to sort them by price, duration, departure/arrival time, or “agony,” which the co-founder Adam Goldstein describes as…

“… a combined function of price, duration, and number of stops––basically the total agony you’ll experience in your butt and your savings.”

The Hipmunk flight search interface.

Once you find the perfect flight, you hit the “Select” button, and Hipmunk directs you to Orbitz to finish the purchase. So you get the innovative search features of Hipmunk and the trustworthy booking system of Orbitz, in a single easy-to-use package… What’s not to like?

-Joel

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The Best Reason to Work at a Start-up

Several weeks ago, I visited Arista Networks with a few other members of Stanford Tau Beta Pi. A start-up founded a couple years back, Arista had the cojones to take on networking giant Cisco in the domain of high-performance 10G Ethernet switches. It sounds arcane… and it is. But those switches and the massive datacenters they support are the bedrock of the Internet and agents of the global connectivity we take for granted today.

It was an amazing opportunity; we got a personal tour of Arista’s Menlo Park offices by Silicon Valley legend Andy Bechtolsheim, who founded Sun Microsystems (Sun = “Stanford University Network”) back in 1982 and wrote a personal check for $100,000 to Larry and Sergey to get Google incorporated (that check is now worth $1.5 billion). And he’s brilliant.

Andy looks and acts the part of the mad scientist, bushy eyebrows, eyes closed, half-muttering with his forehead on his hand even as he spins technical talk into dollars before your eyes. He’s the rare type who can go on for years about the most esoteric of topics, then turn around and tell you––you being a potential investor––in the simplest of terms exactly how his company’s going to enter the market and outperform its competitors. And you can’t help but believe him.

So what’s the best reason to work for a start-up?

Free food. And brilliant people.

I walked away with a profound appreciation for the start-up culture and profound awe at the technical mastery and business acumen of Chairman Andy. The takeaway for all of us undergrads: We’ve still got a lot to learn.

Thanks for reading.

-Joel

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