Jeremy Stoppelman, Russel Simmons
Ages: 28 and 27, respectively
Funding: $6 million from Bessemer Venture Partners and PayPal co-founder Max Levchin
Stoppelman and Simmons rode out the worst of the dot-com bust during a stint at PayPal from 2000 to 2003, forging ties with colleagues that have since paid off. In the summer of 2004, they worked on an incubator project with Levchin, who gathered PayPal alumni to develop ideas for startups. They hatched the concept for Yelp, a Web site that lets users write and share reviews of local businesses. Levchin provided seed capital and Stoppelman dropped out of Harvard Business School to start the company.
Advice: Raise more money than you think you'll need early in your company's life, Stoppelman says. It will get you through unforeseen rough patches in the early research and development phase. Says Simmons: Be extremely careful with every hire and remember that the personalities will filter into every aspect of the company.