The Technical Prodigy
Patrick and John Collison, the co-founders of Stripe were born and raised in a rural village in Ireland. Patrick Collison, the older of the two, was a technical prodigy. He won Young Scientist of the Year at age 16 for developing a programming language and AI system on LISP. At 16, he enrolled in MIT, based on the SAT which he had taken at age 13. His brother John followed him to the US, and they started their first company Auctomatic with Kulveer Taggar. They got accepted into startup accelerator Y Combinator, and within 10 months since inception, they sold the company for $5 million.
In 2009, John enrolled at Harvard. By then, the two brothers had already begun thinking about a way to improve online payments, which they found to be too slow and effort-intensive at the time. In 2010, Patrick and John Collison dropped out of college and launched Stripe in San Francisco with seed funding from Y Combinator. The Stripe API consisted of just 7 lines of code, and came as a one-stop easy solution to integrate payments. Once developers integrated it, no other changes were needed.
An Immediate Product-Market Fit
In 2011, they approached Peter Thiel and Elon Musk. The two brothers pitched a vision of more internet commerce, driven by more connectivity and being easy to use. Soon, Thiel led a $2 million series A round for Stripe, with Sequoia Capital and Andreessen Horowitz. The company grew swiftly, driven largely by word-of-mouth between developers. For the growing list of booming Silicon Valley startups, Stripe provided the perfect solution. In short order, Stripe signed deals with Lyft, Facebook, The Guardian, Boohoo, Salesforce, and Shopify.