TLabs Showcase on travel startups featuring US-based flight loyalty scheme platform FlyByMiles.
Who and what are you (including personnel and backgrounds)?
FlyByMiles is a website that helps fliers easily book the best flight for their miles. Josh Schwartzman recently returned from a 16 month trip around the world, and pitched the idea for FlyByMiles to the StartupBus from Silicon Valley to Austin (March 8 to 11, 2011).
Seven talented people joined my team - from developers, designers and business/product people.
We had never met each other before, but in only 72 hours we built FlyByMiles with no sleep and lots of crappy wifi. We are very early stage, but excited to make actually using your miles very simple.
Here’s our team (from the bus - not all will be joining the startup moving forward):
- Josh Schwartzman - founder & developer, San Francisco
- Andrew Skotzko - product/cust dev, Los Angeles
- Alison Ettel - biz/financials, San Francisco
- Drew Baumann - developer, Los Angeles
- Fei Xiao - designer, Los Angeles
- Greg Imreh - backend hacker, Taiwan
- Rex Chung - developer, Sydney, Australia
- Amir Pakzadian - user experience & user interface designer, San Francisco
Here is a team profile
What financial support did you have to launch the business?
None yet - we just had people dedicate their time aboard the StartupBus to launch the site to where it is, and that was literally just a week ago.
What problem are you trying to solve?
Redeeming your airline miles is difficult, as people often have miles fragmented across multiple accounts (six accounts on average for the more than 300 million frequent fliers).
Fliers have no way of easily comparing all their options across all airlines, and compare the value of the miles ticket vs. what is available as a paid ticket.
Describe the business, core products and services?
We are disrupting the air miles industry by creating market transparency. We allow miles customers to combine air miles with paid tickets to get the best value and maximize their miles value.
We help people with airline miles discover low miles tickets across all major airlines with a visual flight search. We also have real-time miles seat availability across multiple airlines, to help customers find the best mileage deal for their trip.
Who are your key customers and users at launch?
Our key customers are frequent fliers with multiple miles accounts; our first targeted community is those at flyertalk.com.
Did you have customers validate your idea before investors?
We did customer interviews on the ground while the StartupBus stopped in various locations, like Los Angeles and Phoenix.
We talked to a wide range of people who have frequent flier miles and validated there was a lot of confusion about using miles, many people with miles don’t use them, and they have no idea if they are getting a good value for their miles when redeeming them.
What is the business AND revenue model, strategy for profitability?
Multiple revenue streams that compliment either collecting miles, redeeming miles, or travel. They vary from mileage credit card lead gen, selling mileage + paid ticket combos, plus affiliate offers for land packages.
SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats?
- Only site offering real-time mileage seat availability and the ability to book miles + paid tickets.
- We’re a very new startup, and although the team has experience in the travel industry, we’ll need advisors.
Who advised you your idea isn't going to be successful and why didn't you listen to them?
- Other stealth startups also building sites around redeeming miles.
We’ve had an investor who said we should be worried about potential competitors that we don’t know about yet, but we believe we have a very unique solution to a painful problem.
What is your success metric 12 months from now?
100,000 users with at least one mileage account connected and 100,000 tickets booked.
NB: TLabs Showcase is part of the wider TLabs project from Tnooz.