The sky is certainly the limit for Flytenow, a plane-sharing website launched earlier this year by a Northeastern student and an alumnus who will soon pitch their company to some of the top investors in Silicon Valley.
Matt Voska, E’17, and Alan Guichard, L’14 and MBA’14, developed the company to pair local pilots with flight enthusiasts in Boston to help share the experience—and costs—of flying. Now, the co-founders were accepted to Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator that helps startups raise money on a large scale.
“There are so many people that want to get that flying experience,” Voska explained. “And we are becoming the solution to that.”
This spring, Flytenow received $10,000 in gap funding from IDEA, Northeastern’s student-run venture accelerator. It is just the second Northeastern startup to be accepted to Y Combinator, following WeFunder in 2013.
Voska has been in Silicon Valley since the end of May and Guichard joined him a couple weeks ago to continue growing the business. The Y Combinator program will culminate at a Demo Day, where startups present their ideas to about 500 investors.
Voska first heard about Y Combinator as a member of Northeastern’s Entrepreneurs Club. Each week, Y Combinator hosts a dinner for the entrepreneurs to discuss their progress and hear from well-known business leaders in the area including Dropbox founder Drew Houston, a Y Combinator alumnus.
When Flytenow’s base of operations for the summer moved to the San Francisco area, Voska and Guichard took the opportunity to expand their company to the City by the Bay.
“When we looked at market research we learned California has one of the largest aviation communities in the country,” Voska said.
Both licensed pilots, Voska and Guichard were frustrated that the high cost of renting a plane kept them from flying. So they came up with the idea to match pilots with flight enthusiasts who would share the cost.
As of this week about 75 verified pilots and more than 5,000 flying fans have signed up on the website. “There are a lot of people who are really interested in flying and this is the affordable way for them to do it,” Voska said. “It makes certain trips a whole lot easier.”
Flytenow’s original plan focused on having pilots offer shorter excursions, such as a trip to Martha’s Vineyard. But after speaking to more pilots, Voska found that pilots are interested in longer flights, including cross-country adventures.
“We’ve had a bunch of signups in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City,” Voska said. “But we want to refine our operations in Boston and San Francisco, make it easier for pilots and offer additional services, and then get it out to other areas.”