Twice a year, in the heart of Silicon Valley, a small investment firm called Y Combinator selects an elite group of young entrepreneurs. Months of intense work culminates in Demo Day, when investors and venture capitalists flock to hear their pitches. Any one of them might turn out to be the next Dropbox (class of 2007) or Airbnb (class of 2009). Randall Stross was granted unprecedented access to Y Combinator, enabling a unique inside tour of the world of software startups. He tells the full story of this ultra-exclusive institution, how it chooses the aspiring Mark Zuckerbergs, and how it teaches them to go from concept to profitability in record time. This is the definitive story of a seismic shift in the business world, in which coding skill beats job experience, pairs of undergraduates take on Goliaths and investors fall in love. The Launch Pad is both a gripping narrative and a gold mine of useful insights. 'Stross makes computer programming and angel investing as thrilling as it gets.' Slate 'Stross's account of the best new entrepreneurs and the exciting companies they're building at startup schools is a great read for founders and would-be founders alike.'