In part I of this conversation, English describes serendipitously meeting co-founder Steve Hafner (who previously co-founded Orbitz), speaks to the importance of striking the right business partnerships and offers insights into how Kayak tests its products.
English says Kayak’s origins date back to 2003 when he was introduced to his co-founder Steve Hafner through a mutual contact. He tells Dixon the two immediately hit it off, went to a bar and “an hour later decided each to throw a bunch of money in” to start Kayak. English and Hafner then put together a board that included “the original founders of Expedia and Travelocity.” English notes this leadership offered Kayak additional legitimacy in the eyes of the industry, as did the opportunity to “take over travel search for the AOL portal.” And says the AOL deal “got us a lot of attention because … we had an anchor tenant with a lot of traffic.”
Speaking further to the AOL partnership, English tells Dixon, “It is hard to get those deals but it is a huge emotional win and PR win for the industry. I think to tell people that you are an unknown startup, but you are powering … travel management for some big company, it gives you cred that allows you to then ask for other things, so I think it was really key to us in 2004.”
Make sure to watch the entire interview to hear additional insights, and be on the lookout for part II of this interview which is coming up.
Past episodes of Founder Stories featuring leaders of FindTheBest, Kiva Systems, TripAdvisor, Warby Parker, ZocDoc and many other companies are here.