What does a chipmunk have to do with travel?

For one, the critter is the mascot of, a travel website created to take “the agony out of travel planning.”

Hipmunk co-founder Adam Goldstein stopped by Zillow’s Seattle headquarters recently as part of the Zillow Speaker Series to talk about his experience starting a new company and the story behind Hipmunk’s chubby-cheeked icon.

While attending college at MIT, Goldstein was a member of the debate team (winning the North American Debating Champion title in 2010). One of his tasks was to coordinate travel for the competitions. It was then he discovered that matching up flights from places like Manhattan, Kansas to Gaborone, Botswana was time-consuming and “not an easy task.”

Zillow VP of Product Teams Christopher Roberts interviews Hipmunk founder Adam Goldstein

Rather than organize flights by price, Goldstein decided that there should be a site that organized flights by convenience, or by degree of “agony.”

“We’re helping people find not necessarily the cheapest flight, but the best option for them,” Goldstein explained.

When Goldstein went to find a name for his new company, most of the traditional travel names were already taken.

“I explained this problem to my girlfriend and she suggested that we look for the name of a small cute animal because then we’d be able to get a good logo. I thought this was a good idea. So, I started typing in small animal names and they were all taken. Then I typed in misspellings of small animal names and ‘hipmunk’ was up for auction. I put in the minimum bid of $70 and no one else bid for it, so we got hipmunk.”

There are many more takeaways and anecdotes from Goldstein’s talk. Watch the video to learn more.

Zillow’s work-life culture offers many opportunities like this. If you like what you see here, check out Zillow’s jobs pagewe’re hiring!

Previous Z Speaker Series guests include:

About the Author

Erika Riggs, the Zillow Digs manager, covers home design and trends.

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