KinectAir Founder Jonathan Evans on The Future of Flying

 
KinectAir on Wefunder

The future of flying. The on-demand flight network.

Summary

Airplane flights are possibly one of the least environmentally-friendly ways to travel. And as our economy continues to become more global, the number of people who regularly take flights is only going to increase. Additionally, not all airlines have handled the current pandemic well at all. Some airline companies have returned to selling all seats in a plane, while others continue to keep middle seats empty for the time being.

KinectAir has a very different vision for airlines flights. The company offers point-to-point charter flights as well as dynamic group flights. KinectAir utilizes AI software to enable intelligent flight booking for customers who use its app. We sat down with founder Jonathan Evans to discuss the future of flight and how KinectAir fits into that future.

Note: This interview was conducted over email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.


Kingscrowd
Can you give us a brief elevator pitch for your company?
Jonathan

KinectAir provides joyful and accessible air travel to everyone that needs to fly. We are establishing the first flexible on-demand flight network, delivering control to passengers over when, where and how they fly using an AI enabled app. 

We use state of the art, smaller and fuel efficient turboprop aircraft to minimize environmental impact now. We have partnerships with electric aircraft manufacturers to enable people to fly in an even more sustainable way in a couple of years time. We believe that the future of regional air travel should be clean, and we aim to deliver it first.

Kingscrowd
What inspired you to take the leap and build this company?
Jonathan

As a former US Army and LifeFlight helicopter pilot as well as an exited software entrepreneur with drone software company Skyward (sold to Verizon), I know how software can change operations and drive a much better experiences. Jumping in a helicopter and safely departing in less than 10 minutes to fly off and potentially save a life showed me the art of the possible. At the time, the experience of recording and managing the fleets I operated was still copied triplicate into paper log books! It was like aviation had missed getting connected to the internet and in some cases still is. Now is the ideal time to deliver on-demand flying and reduce our over-reliance on polluting jet aircraft by utilizing powerful computing and software that can absolutely deliver a flexible network of aircraft and senior pilots flying. You will be able to call upon our network to get you from point to point, at a cost that is realistic compared to business class aviation. And at the core of it all, you will experience joy in air travel in a way you never have. What inspired me to build this company? I’ve wanted to share that joy with everyone I can since I got my pilot’s license at 19. 

Kingscrowd
What past experiences prepared you to start, build, and lead your company?
Jonathan

After dropping out of college and enlisting in 1997, I was fortunate to be picked up for flight school as a Warrant Officer in the Army 18 months after basic training — and I was the youngest aviator in the US military when I earned my wings in January of 2000. I was honored to fly UH60 Blackhawks for another six years before being honorably discharged from the Army in January 2006. I love being a first responder and have mostly chosen to fly so-called “medevac” helicopters (amongst some other great missions) for the military in Alabama, Germany, Kosovo, and DC. Flying has given me so much discipline and freedom in equal measures, but I also spent a lot of time waiting for calls to go places and help out, which is when I honed my entrepreneurial skills and dreamed up ways to modernize aviation. Having done that with Skyward to a degree of success, and feeling inspired to see it thrive now at Verizon, I know more about the template for success. It gives me goosebumps thinking about the potential for KinectAir globally.

Kingscrowd
What is your vision for the future of the industry you are operating in?
Jonathan

The industry is experiencing a totally seismic shift now brought on by COVID-19, and we are witnessing the birth of a new era, no understatement. All the top down routed options, flying on the airlines schedules and not your own, then having to be crammed through enormous airport hubs and planes with all their many many hundreds of touch points just became much less desirable. 

We see a shift in regional aviation to smaller aircraft, run on networks of planes that only fly where and when they are needed to. People will be able to book flights on their schedule, so no more 4 am reports at the terminal to fly at 7am when you don’t need to be there. Using jets to fly smaller distances will become almost unacceptable to many people when an electric-hybrid option exists. Anyone with a conscience will switch to environmentally-friendly flying. These trends will enable people to take advantage of the Information Age to fly on their terms and live wherever they want and still stay connected to the people, places and communities they need in their life. 

Kingscrowd
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
Jonathan

I am in a fortunate position of being able to hand pick the team from my previous lives in professional aviation, drones and software. This team that has formed around a bootstrapped KinectAir is nothing short of extraordinary. Some of the key team members are Ben Howard, our CTO, a capable software team architect that started his career at Intel, then co-founded a company that created a global SaaS platform for drone data. He then moved on to lead a world class AI team as VP of Engineering at Resson where they deployed AI and machine learning models for multi-billion dollar precision agriculture companies around the world. Not a bad CV for the guy building the magic under the hood of this vision.  

Serving as the crucial link between aviation policies and software we have Anneke Tucker, a highly capable Marine Corps veteran with a background in aviation maintenance, certification and technical documentation. She is trained to be a software product manager to bring her operational intelligence directly into the design and development of the platform. 

Nick Rogers, our Chief Commercial Officer, was practically my British twin in drones from the United Kingdom as co-founder of Sky-Futures, a very successful drone services and data analytics company, who also happened to juggle being a Captain at British Airways and flying over 10,000 hours! 

Many of the team are personally exited entrepreneurs or business owners in aviation, software, AI or data, and this is amazing. Not only do I have visionaries, but they are proven business people who execute to proven results in their careers. As we grow, the DNA of this company is well forged in this leadership team, and we’ve formed a culture in which people feel they can do the best work of their lives. Each of us is driven and intrinsically motivated to do so I believe.

I would follow any one of them, to be honest, so that’s a pretty good yardstick for how trusted and loved they are to me on this journey!

Kingscrowd
Do you have any competition, if so, how do you differentiate?
Jonathan

Personally, and I know it is a cliche, I don’t worry too much about the competition. We are going to build a new type of software-defined aviation company that has not been done before to leverage networks of hybrid-electric aircraft for our passengers. The private jet companies are so hellbent on speed and luxury that they have missed the opportunity to build something lasting that will engage people in a new way of taking to the sky and bring the joy back to air travel. 

Kingscrowd
What does your business model look like?
Jonathan

We plan two complementary products. KinectAir Anywhere, point-to-point charter or group flights for up to 8 people, using gorgeous and fuel-efficient 4 seater piston and 8 seater turboprops; and KinectAir Together, larger turboprops with 30-50 seats, offering flexible routing and aggregating demand using software to make sure the planes only fly when they’re carrying an optimal load. The combination of the software, the most versatile and efficient machines available, and the order-of-magnitude more airfields we can access with them will create a game changing network for regional flying. It will all be available in the app, which starts by simply asking you, “Where do you need to be?”

Kingscrowd
What brought you to equity crowdfunding and how do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Jonathan

This raise is our community round where we wanted the very folk that we fly to be first adopters to seed the vision. The types of investors and stories that have come forward have energised our vision to a large extent and in some cases has confirmed the appetite for the KinectAir offering. We have had medical professionals saying how this could help them reach their patients better, sports team managers saying it will change how they tour and people looking to find new ways to reach their family or friends since flight schedules have been cut due to coronavirus, and the high-touch and cloistered experience the airlines offer has become somewhat unpalatable. We have even brokered flights from this community, and the word of mouth on the experience has been powerful, so we already feel it has been justified. 

The objectives here are to support the first development of the platform and brand for the company. Part of the raise will also go toward aviation operations and regulatory certification. In parallel a traditional round is being planned for further development of the company.

Kingscrowd
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
Jonathan

As I flew over the thousands of under utilized airfields in the USA, I always knew that I would come back to the idea of bringing joyful and frictionless flying to a much greater audience. Our focus is on widening access to personal air mobility, introducing sustainable air travel and connecting communities. If you align with any of those, we want you to help us change the way we take to the skies! Join us!

Kingscrowd
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
Jonathan

I don’t think about exits, we have a duty to our investors to create a great company and do things differently to what is out there. When we are successful, the work will last well into this new era of air travel we’re describing. Our long term mission is to be an established global air-mobility company empowering people to connect with each other, places and communities by air. To be seen as a force for good in aviation and the company that put the JOY back in flying.


We at KingsCrowd are excited to see where Jonathan and his team take the company. KinectAir is currently raising on Wefunder.


53
About: Olivia Strobl

Olivia comes to KingsCrowd with a background in venture capital and technology. She spent time at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused venture fund in Boston, before joining the KingsCrowd team. There she helped develop machine learning algorithms for the opportunity qualification of preseed and seed-stage startup companies. Prior to her time at Glasswing, Olivia worked in a lab studying the neural correlates of attention. She holds a degree in Neuroscience from Wellesley College.

View Olivia Strobl's founders