Sikorsky Innovations has selected EvoLux Transportation the winner of its second “Entrepreneurial Challenge Competition” for its in-development helicopter reservation system, targeted at making helicopter flights more attractive for potential users and increasing revenues for operators.
EvoLux claims to be “building the world’s first helicopter charter marketplace.” Its software platform manages per-seat, on-demand reservation and dispatch. In August 2011, it began to test the prototype in the South Florida market. It generated “early revenues” that “validated” the model.
EvoLux is now looking to secure “a seed-round of $1.5 million.” It will then relaunch an updated product in Florida, “where we have strong relationships and access to more than 30 helicopters that vary in size, mission capability and geographic point of origin,” founder Ray Leavitt told AIN. “First, we are going to market heli-excursion packages,” he explained. Eventually, EvoLux wants to operate as an online travel agent with automated, real-time reservation and dispatch.
Leavitt has high hopes for mobile applications and ride sharing. The latter would drastically cut per-seat prices. “We could suggest users adjust their schedules [to] benefit from ‘car-pooling’ for helicopters,” Leavitt added.
Current plans call for the relaunch to happen by year-end. Expansion in the Southeastern U.S. and staggered launches in the Northeast and California are planned to take place over the next three to five years. After that, the first international targets are São Paulo, Brazil; Southeast Asia; and the United Arab Emirates.
Sikorsky’s Entrepreneurial Challenge aims to “identify and accelerate the development of emerging, transformational business solutions that can be applied to specialized aerospace and rotorcraft markets.” Previously based in Boca Raton, Fla., EvoLux now benefits from a rent-free office at Sikorsky Innovations’ “incubator” space in Stamford, Conn. The manufacturer also provides an education program, mentorship and introductions to the investment and entrepreneurial communities on the East Coast.