Wade Eyerly is the inventor of the all-you-can-fly subscription airline model and was previously a Co-Founder of Surf Air and currently is a Co-Founder of Beacon. He’s worked for the US government as an intelligence officer, including service in Iraq. He regularly speaks on company culture, risk tolerance, and recruiting. Additionally, Wade is the co-founder of Offerboard.com and an advisory to a half dozen startups.
You have such a multifaceted background including working in intelligence, politics, travel and economics. How did the idea for Beacon evolve?
The simplest version of the story is that I flew as much as 27 days a month for work – and had an acute understanding of the pain point that most frequent travelers have. But, to be candid, the idea first came about when my brother David, who is a pilot, called concerned that there wouldn’t be a lot of jobs for pilots when he graduated – and we hatched a plan to make sure he’d have one.
Beacon is a monthly-based subscription service. How does this set it apart from other private aviation companies?
The industry as a whole works on a transactional basis. You rent square footage on a giant aluminum time-share, and then when your time is up, someone else gets it. The problem is that transactional businesses like that force a cost-based focus because that’s where they can find margins. They constantly have to acquire new customers. But it also lets them treat customers like commodities, and simply discard dissatisfied customers. That’s a terrible business model for a service business, which is what I believe we are.
At Beacon, we are focused on delivering a top notch experience every time you interact with us. That’s why we don’t do long-term contracts, and why we focus on the subscription. It creates a relationship between us, and our members. Then, like any relationship, it is up to us to invest in and nurture that relationship by delivering consistently great service.
What sort of items would a Beacon concierge assist with?
The entire job description for a concierge is to “make the experience right.” In that sense the sorts of things they might assist with are broad. Most commonly, they’ll help members who forgot to arrange a rental car (or car service), or things directly related to their travel. But, they can certainly do more – it just depends on what the member needs.
Walk us through the simplicity of the booking experience?
One of the great things about having a relationship with our members is that we know who you are. We don’t need 3 pages of personal information and an ID to let you board a plane. Instead, we need just 3 bits of information. Where would you like to go. We could give you a big map. When would you like to go? A big calendar. Which flight would you like to get on? And you toggle on, and toggle off. It’s that easy. When I demo it to people we’re booking and canceling flights in under 10 seconds. It’s incredibly smooth.
Where is your favorite place to travel, either for work or leisure?
Interesting question. I love to sight see, so I like going places I haven’t been before. I’d like to see the Great Wall, the Taj Mahal, and Iceland’s glaciers. But favorite place, seems to ask where do I like to go back to? I travel most often to Utah for vacation. It is gorgeous, with world class fishing, the red-rocks, the mountains, all of it. Salt Lake is a very under-rated city. I also go to Kansas City for sporting events quite often, catching a Chiefs or Royals game, or even BYU-Mizzou at Arrowhead Stadium this year.
What is your most interesting airport experience?
One random airport experience is when I left Salt Lake City just after getting married and we were flying to South Carolina for our honeymoon. As I’m boarding the plane I see the pilot – and I know him. 10 years prior we worked together in Russia as Mormon missionaries. It was a wonderful coincidence.
Aside from your company/job, what is your greatest success?
I’m married with 2 boys and (as near as I can tell) they all still like having me around.
What is one book you would recommend to everyone?
Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. I love books that change the way I think about things, and this one really impacted me.
Who is someone we should be following on Twitter right now?
Mark Suster. His blog, newsletter, and twitter feeds are filled with some rock solid advice and he’s a very good writer. I’m a big fan, and think it’s pretty close to required reading for entrepreneurs.
What is one app that all FoundersCard Members should be using?
MLB’s At Bat. It’s incredible. I can stream KC Royals games in higher quality on my phone than I get with the MLB package on cable.
Give us your best plug/brag a little about as to what you’re working on now/next.
We are about to change the way most Americans think about travel. Twenty years from now we’ll look back and wonder why everyone used to buy tickets. It’s incredible to see the global interest and the adoption level already is sky high.
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