Pat and Joe recently graduated from our DTX Launch Detroit program — a 10-week program geared toward college students and recent grads looking to work on a tech entrepreneurial idea. Read about their experience in the program and learn a very valuable camping tip!
1. What’s your business & why are you proud of it?
AiirShare is a ride-sharing platform for private planes. Through connecting private pilots with flight enthusiasts to share the cost of gas and rental fees, we enable pilots to save money and fly more often. Traditionally, the general aviation community has been a close-knit group of passionate people tinkering in hangars and meeting up for fly-in breakfasts on weekends; with AiirShare, we hope to introduce this culture to the general public. However, this idea wouldn’t be possible without the growing collaborative consumption movement and it’s exciting to be a part of a new way of conceiving ownership and how we access services. Fifty years ago, the only way to enjoy travel in a private plane was to train as a pilot, meet one through your personal network or pay a lot of money to charter one; today’s technology allows us to connect people that otherwise never would have met so they can fly together inexpensively. The benefits of sharing range from reduced environmental impact to lower costs, but the part we’re most proud of is the accessibility. Because private pilots can’t receive compensation, passengers are able to fly at cost. What this boils down to is the ability to fly anywhere within a one-hour radius for under $40; it’s unbelievable.
2. What’s one of the most memorable moments you’ve had while working on AiirShare?
There have been lots of great memories (one being a certain 10-week program in Detroit), but our trip to Oshkosh, Wisc. has to be the best; it was eventful to say the least. The event itself was spectacular with over 500,000 people visiting over the course of the week and oceans of tents and RVs, but the individuals we encountered made it special. We met people from all over the continent: we discussed American politics with our camping neighbors from Manitoba, we had a roundtable gathering with our competitors at the bikini beer tent and visited a local water hole aptly named “The Reptile Palace” with a new friend from the East Coast. It was the longest either of us had ever camped – and it showed – but we didn’t care. The fact that we pitched our tent in a ditch and slept in damp sleeping bags didn’t slow us down one bit; we woke up every day and walked to the exhibitor hangar (until the last day, that is, when we discovered vendors had a special parking spot next to it). As we took the scenic route back through the Upper Peninsula, we reminisced about all the experiences we had packed into a short nine days, and while we didn’t come close to our goal of 250 signups a day, we left with a renewed sense of purpose and confidence built on the kind words of others.
3. What did you find most valuable and helpful about the DTX Launch Detroit program?
The energy! At times, it’s difficult waking up and working for what feels like no results; especially at the early stages where there’s literally no functioning product, but every drive back from our meetings was optimistic. Sure, the criticism was tough sometimes, and even worse when we didn’t have the answers ready, but every time we sat down, we had a notebook of new ideas and a greater sense of where we needed to be going (even if it was really where we shouldn’t be going). All the mentors, the speakers and guest judges gave so freely of their time for no reason other than to help a group of young people trying to solve some problems. Ideas and spaces are a dime a dozen, but, once again, it was the people that made the program what it was. Having both grown up in the suburbs, it seems difficult to evaluate the “Detroitness” of the program, but whatever that may be – real or imaginary – DTX Launch had it.
4. What’s up next for AiirShare?
Florida! We’ve decided that enough is enough, and it’s time to take a break. So we’ll be leaving for Ft. Myers until next summer when we’re really gonna hit the work hard. Just kidding! We are going to Florida, but only because it’s one of the biggest markets for general aviation. With a number of aviation schools and over seven million flight hours annually, it’s the perfect place for us to start signing up pilots. We thought about doing a road trip up and down the coasts, but someone pointed out that Florida’s filled with all kinds of dangerous creatures, so we’ll headquarter in Ft. Myers and drive from there. The website will be up and running before the end of August. It will initially be invite-only, so if anyone is interested, they can contact us and mention TechTown Detroit for an invite.
5. When you have time, what do you do for fun?
We enjoy listening to smooth music of Kenny Loggins, namely “Highway to the Danger Zone,” and we love watching movies, specifically “Top Gun,” every night at 9 p.m. Other than that, we’re both avid dancers performing at The Reptile Palace to such hits as “Get Down On It” or “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Our next performance is scheduled for the end of next July. Anyone interested in tickets can get them through our website, AiirShare.com. Get them while they’re available!