At San Diego Startup Week in June, Ideator powered an Idea Competition in which 7 teams pitched in front of a panel of judges. AirCourse was 3rd in line to pitch.

Richard Lee, a Global Business Development Manager and MBA candidate at UCSD, led the team to compete in the event, presenting alongside team members Daniel Lindsey and Manupriya Sharma.

The team formed whilst completing their MBAs at UCSD while conducting market research for a fictitious new product called Beetlejuice, smoothies made with beetles. Originally they were going to continue with Beetlejuice for the next part of the program, called the Lab2Market capstone project, as none of the team members were, at that time, seriously contemplating starting an actual new business.

At that time, Rich, whose background is in sales strategy, expressed his frustration with food in airports. He felt that options were limited depending on the terminal one is assigned and the amount of time left over after all the security checks. Similarly, airport concessionaires are limited to those customers who are in their vicinity. And that if they were to create a demand aggregation mobile app, online ordering, and fulfillment system, each flier would have access to the food vendor they otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Rich explained his vision during their planning phase of the capstone project and the team members understood innately the problem, having felt the same pain and even saw the potential in the solution. “Hence AirCourse was born and we went from there!”, Daniel explained.

Biggest hurdles they face? The unknowns. And as we know, there’s a lot of them that crop up along the path of launching a business. As of now they have transitioned to perform operational research and are setting up relationships with key stakeholders. They are hopeful to test the concept this summer.

The AirCourse team initially used Ideator to join the San Diego Startup Week Pitch Competition. From there they’ve received great feedback from the Community Manager of Ideator. The biggest help from Ideator so far has been the feedback received from SDSW and from Jessica, the Community Manager.

The chance to compete was a great test for the team. With the academic side complete, pitching in the SDSW arena proved the importance of an effective “hook.” SDSW showed that as AirCourse moves on to newer and newer audiences, that they must continue to put the pain points of airport food front and center.

Additionally, it has been very insightful for them to review other companies that are using the portal.

“As an “Analyst in training for SD Tech Coast Angels” I hope to see many of these companies at our future screening meetings!” Daniel said.

What’s up next for the team? Through the end of this year, and beginning of 2018, we’ll see AirCourse completing a Proof of Relevance experiment (similar to the Eco ATM model). Once completed they will conduct Beta testing with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP). If they validate product/market fit then they plan to leverage their existing relationships to “get off the ground.” No pun intended. Get in touch with the AirCourse team by connecting with them on Ideator, here.

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