You wouldn’t think that the massive inefficiency that exists at airports nationwide relative to parking would be on the mind of a couple of 20-year-olds, but in this case it was and it has turned into a wildly successful idea that is setting new records in the business world.
Rujul Zaparde and Kevin Petrovic, both 20 years old, are the founders of FlightCar, the first peer-to-peer car sharing company to operate out of airports. After realizing the massive inefficiency at airports, and the fact that there are thousands of cars parked in long term parking and thousands more in the rental companies’ parking lots, it just made sense to the duo to make use of the unused cars of outbound travelers.
“It really started with a sense of curiosity”, the pair tells us. “We just wondered if people would use the service and if we could pull it off.” So the pair both passed up Ivy League educations and started FlightCar.
One of their earliest challenges they faced was securing investors. They were young, inexperienced and the company was in pre-launch with no customers. So the pair found good mentors who believed in them and went through two accelerators (Y Combinator and The Brandery). They were able to raise $20M in venture capital and are noted as the youngest entrepreneurs to raise that amount of money.
Rujul and Kevin attribute much of their success to being young and not deeply entrenched in the industry at the outset. While some would see those as disadvantages, they view them as strengths that allowed them to see things differently and approach them in new ways.
Rujul and Kevin’s advice to kid entrepreneurs:
"Always have a financial plan. The more money you have, the easier it is to spend it, and without a plan to profitability or the next round of funding, chances are high that you will run out." offers Kevin. Rujul adds, “When you’re seeking investors, don’t focus solely on valuation and terms - what’s more important is think of this person as someone you’re going to be working closely with for the next several years.”