Hipmunk.com is a travel search site that aims to make travel planning as friendly and intuitively as possible. The company aimed initially to provide an awesome experience when buying airline tickets. Later, Hipmunk was extended to hotel search. To make the search as friendly as possible, Hipmunk uses ‘agony’ (for flights) and ‘ecstasy’ (for hotels) to combine price, inconveniences and ratings into an unique rank metric that users can sort by in order to select the most optimum travel plan.
Hipmunk innovates in other areas as well: flights are presented using friendly bars that take small screen space to render, which makes it easy to visualize and compare them. Flights that depart earlier, arrive later and cost more than better alternatives are hidden by default from the results.
The company was founded in 2010 by Adam Goldstein and Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman as part of the Y Combinator‘s Summer 2010 class. In an Inc. interview, Adam explained how he came up with the domain name: his girlfriend suggested to start looking for names of small and cute animals, because then they’ll be able to get a good logo. He found hipmunk.com listed at auction and got the domain in the end for $70.
The site has hundreds of thousands of unique monthly visitors. To enhance this growth, the company hired 4 marketing positions at the beginning of 2012. The revenue comes primarily from affiliate deals with travel agencies, hotel and airline companies. As for the future, Hipmunk may look into an ad-supported model, but “that’s not in the cards just yet” according to the company’s press whisperer. Especially not inside the mobile apps that Hipmunk launched for the iOS and Android platforms.