2012 New England Innovation Award

Posted by William Herp on Sun, Apr 22, 2012

Cynics are prone to believe the old line that “There’s nothing new under the sun.”  Well, while that may be true at some deep, philosophical level, it’s not the case in the world of American business or, now, in the world of business travel.

American businesses continue to roll out innovative new services and products every year, even during these challenging economic times. And we at Linear Air are thrilled that not only are our customers noticing our innovativeness, but so too are the experts. We’re pleased to report that Linear Air recently was nominated for the 2012 New England Innovation Award.

This nomination recognizes more than just our innovative – really revolutionary – approach to providing regional business jet service on economical, new-generation “Very Light Jets” at prices competitive with last-minute airline tickets. It also recognizes our continuing innovativeness in pioneering such things as on-line travel booking for regional business jet flights - via Hipmunk - and using (with Federal Aviation Administration approval) iPads in our cockpits in place of conventional paper charts and checklists.

It’s also gratifying to know how we were nominated. Several years ago Harvard Business School Professor Mary Tripsas and a team of her grad students examined our company for a case study entitled Linear Air: Creating the Air-Taxi Industry for her class Leading Innovative Ventures. The case also has been taught in the graduate business schools at Stanford, Dartmouth, and the University of North Carolina. Professor Tripsas’ decided to nominate us based on her understanding of our company, gathered from that study.

We are humbled to be included among those companies that have won or been nominated in the past for the New England Innovation Award. And though this is, as its name implies, a regionally-focused award many of the past nominees and winners are well known all around the nation and, in some cases, around the world. And though it is awarded by SBANE, the Smaller Business Association of New England, many of these winners are “small” only in comparison with very large industrial and service corporations, and not in terms of their market reach.

Ben & Jerry’s, a pioneer in the making and marketing upscale ice cream in dozens of whimsically-named flavors, was one of the first winners way back in 1986.  Keurig Inc., which is changing the way people make gourmet coffee at home or in the office, was a 2000 winner. Sticking with the coffee theme, Green Mountain Coffee was a winner in 1997, and if you spill a few grounds on the carpet, 2006 award winner iRobot’s busy little Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner will take care of the mess for you. Then, if you need to drink your coffee on the road, you can do so in one of the “shared cars” offered by ZipCar, a 2002 SBANE Innovation Award winner.

But there’s something more important to us than winning awards for innovation. And that’s using our innovativeness to provide high-quality, yet economical and time-saving business jet charter service to business people.

The key innovation is our use of the Eclipse Jet; the first of the new generation of Very Light Jets made of unconventional aircraft materials or manufactured using revolutionary new high-tech processes - or both. Because our Eclipse Jets are less expensive to build and weigh significantly less, we can fly them at significantly lower costs than conventional business jets. We also typically operate our on-demand air taxi flights from less congested airports where there’s little or no commercial air service, and which typically are much closer to travelers’ ultimate destinations than the big commercial airports. Those facts allow us to shave 30% to 40% off business travelers’ door-to-door travel times. And we can do it at prices competitive with airline fares.

Thus, we are bringing the convenience and efficiency of regional business jet flying within the reach of many more businesses and individuals than ever before. And that’s not all that different from what one of history’s most famous innovators - Henry Ford - did a century ago when he decided to make cars that the average person actually could afford to buy.

See you on board!


Tags: air taxi, ipads, disruptive innovation

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