John and Patrick Collison
Cofounders / Stripe / San Francisco
Resume: At just 22 and 23 years old, brothers John (left) and Patrick are already Valley vets. The natives of Limerick, Ireland, built their first startup, Auctomatic, back in 2007 at Y Combinator. The brothers have since branched out on their own to found buzzy payments company Stripe, which has already raised $20 million from Sequoia Capital at a reported $100 million valuation.
John: "Coming from Ireland, it's quite hard to do a startup because you're culturally so far away from what everyone else is doing. In the Bay Area, it's much easier. It's the equivalent of an actor or actress moving to Hollywood."
Patrick: "In 2007, there weren't any other accelerators, at least that I was aware of. We were almost the prototypical Y Combinator founders: We were highly technical but had never done a startup before. We also didn't know anyone in the Valley—investors, other entrepreneurs, potential hires. YC seemed like a great way to bootstrap that network."
John: "And the value of the peer group is surprisingly profound."
Patrick: "That summer, I remember a bunch of accelerators started springing up that literally copied YC's application, and just replaced the city with 'Boulder' or 'New York' or wherever. I actually made a website called Y2 Combinator, which was the Y Combinator that starts Y Combinator clones. There's a very clear difference in the quality between the companies that come from YC and the companies that don't."
More: Are Accelerators Losing Speed?
A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.