We continue our interview series with Aaron Bergen who launched a new website last month called Flugy. Flugy’s mission is to change the way we travel through an on-demand, democratic, crowd-sourcing model for air travel. I will let Aaron share more about what this is about. You can also check out their YouTube video launch.
1) Please tell us about yourself.
- Aaron Berger: My background is developing leading-edge software platforms. I built one of the first mainstream home automation platforms, which around 2011-2013 was the most popular and the only low-cost solution. Before that robotics systems and media servers. Everybody else on the team, however, has a background in travel.
- Athan Slotkin: Managed several travel programs including American Express Centurian and Platinum.
- Melchior Blaese: Founder of Pergenz, which focuses on community building and services a lot of customers in the travel space.
2) Aaron, why did you create Flugy?
In a nutshell, to be able to visit more interesting, exotic destinations without having to endure miserable stopovers, missed connections, lost luggage. It started out with me simply considering forming a local travel club to pick cool destinations and split the cost of a private jet. But even still the cost is outrageously high. To get a good price we need scale–as in 150 people to fill a modern airliner. Splitting a G5 between 20 people is still too expensive. But to organize 150 people’s schedules we’re going to need an app and a social network.
So I got to thinking that every other aspect of travel has gone from a legacy top/down corporate model to a more efficient on-demand, gig-economy bottom-up model. Air travel is the only segment that nobody has tried to address. It’s going to happen someday anyway, why not now?
3) What is Flugy about?
Visiting exotic destinations on flights that are more affordable and much faster than today’s commercial flights, and with a group of cool people.
4) What would you like people to benefit the most from your service?
Social networks have become anything but social. People are spending all their time making ‘virtual friends’ without leaving the house. We want to make a social network that’s actual social, where people meet up in person and then go out and explore the world together.
5) What should Canadians, specifically, look out for in Flugy?
Canada is an enormous country with many pristine places that are traditionally inaccessible because there is not enough tourism to have regularly scheduled flights. With Flugy you could align schedules to have short getaways to remote places that are yet unspoiled. Also, when Canadians want to go south to escape the cold winter, most of the interesting places require connecting flights in the US. The US is a miserable country to make a connection in as you have to clear customs and immigration. Canadians would love being able to fly directly to an exotic, warm beach in Costa Rica without having to connect in the US and go through the Latin American capital cities which usually aren’t very nice.
In November, Canadians can fly directly to Tikel, Guatemala, and with the referral program, the barrier quite low to have the flight free–you only need to refer 10 other passengers. And we’re paying the most popular photographers and influencers in each city to go with the group and offering $500 cash if you refer us to your favorites.
6) What can we look forward to with Flugy?
Every month the opportunity to visit an exotic, beautiful location on a fast, affordable flight.
7) What advice would you give travelers and “Pointshoggers” out there?
Just give it a try. The membership fee is only $25, and it’s refundable for 4 months if you don’t get any flights offers you like. So you’ve got nothing to lose, and if you help us get critical mass, you’ll have a much better way to explore the world.
8) Any closing thoughts?
One concern people have is trust. If they pay a new startup for a flight, how they know they will get the flight? When our members pay their money does not go to Flugy. We comply with US Dept of Transportation part 380 rules for public charter. All money goes to an insured escrow account, and the funds can only be released directly to the airline by the escrow agent, which is the world’s largest and handles 80% of all charter bookings. Only after the flight does Flugy get our commission. And if the flight doesn’t operate, the money is refunded.