Last month, Northeastern students Matt Voska, E’17, and Alan Guichard, L’14, launched a small plane-sharing venture called Flytenow, which connects recreational pilots with flight enthusiasts to make flying more affordable and accessible. We asked Voska to explain how the startup got off the ground and what he and Guichard learned along the way.
Q: What made you start your business and how did you get to where you are now?
A: The inspiration behind Flytenow came from a problem I experienced. As a private pilot, I love to fly small planes, but it tends to be very expensive. I had been grounded for months solely because of the sheer cost of flying. One day I realized that there are many open seats on general aviation flights that go unoccupied, and people who want to go flying could join and split the cost. From there, Flytenow was born.
We started talking to pilots and quickly realized that many of them shared my problem. We made a landing page to gauge interest and started sharing it with pilots and aviation enthusiasts. We discovered that many people have the dream to go flying, but don’t know where to start. When we pitch the idea to non-pilots, their eyes light up because they realize that their dreams that seemed out of reach were finally possible. In the end, we’re making it easy and affordable for everyone to get off the ground by pairing pilots with enthusiasts.
Q: What were the biggest lessons you learned while trying to build your business?
A: We’ve learned numerous lessons, but the most important is to always talk to the target audience before starting development. This lesson was a product of several mobile applications in a prior venture that never took off. We realized that talking to potential users during the design phase could have prevented these failures. Now, our first step before doing any development work on a project is to go out and talk with people. Not only does it validate our building, but often the people we connect with have some really great ideas for the future of our service.
Q: How has Northeastern helped you along the way?
A: Northeastern has helped us tremendously with the process of starting a business. The Northeastern Entrepreneurs Club connected me to the Boston startup community, from which I learned valuable lessons about how to build a successful business. Hearing about the successes and failures of established entrepreneurs at the E-Club's regular meetings was also incredibly useful. We recently connected with IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator, which has provided us with valuable resources and mentors to go to for guidance when we run into a roadblock. That’s an incredibly powerful resource that many startups just don't have.