Young pilot named finalist in Entrepreneur contest

At just 19, John Hill already has three years under his belt working the front desk at an FBO. A passionate pilot — he earned his ticket at age 17 — Hill divides his time between his work at ProJet Aviation, the FBO at Leesburg Executive Airport (KJYO) in Virginia, and his studies at George Mason University.

Oh, and he’s busy developing an app called EasyFBO to make life easier for both pilots and FBO employees. And, oh yeah, the idea for that app earned him a spot as one of five college finalists in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Entrepreneur of 2014 contest. His idea is the only one related to general aviation.

If he wins, he’ll receive $5,000 in seed money to help launch his business.

The mission of EasyFBO is to streamline the fuel ordering process for pilots while reducing costs and increasing efficiency for FBOs.

John HillHe notes that costly errors — both in money and time — often occur through a break in the chain of communication between customer, customer service representative and linemen.

“Our FBO recently took over the competition, making us the only FBO on the field,” he said. “That meant we were very busy. I developed the idea for the app as a way to make my life easier. The idea is to help people and businesses save time and money.”

The app will have three components:

  1. EasyFBO Pilot, a free mobile app for pilots to order fuel and other services from participating FBOs;
  2. EasyFBO Desk, a web app for front desk personnel that enables them to view a list of orders that have been submitted through the EasyFBO Pilot app. Front desk personnel will also be able to input tasks directly into the request list for pilots who still want to order through the front desk; and
  3. EasyFBO Line, a mobile app for line technicians that allows them to view the real time feed of tasks and check them off as they’re completed.

All of these apps will communicate with each other, fully integrating the fuel ordering process, he noted.

The app will be beta tested at KJYO, then Hill plans to expand it to FBOs around the country.

“I’m focused and working around the clock to get this product to market,” he said. “I want to make life easier for pilots and FBOs alike, especially because I’ve been on both sides of the desk.”

He also hopes his involvement in the contest will help increase awareness of general aviation.

“I’m very excited to be a finalist in this competition. In addition to the possibility of winning, I hope my idea being a part of this competition draws national attention to the general aviation industry and the industry’s importance to our national economy.”

But because most people outside GA don’t know what an FBO is, it is critically important that the aviation community get behind Hill and bolster his chances of winning the contest.

There are five judges that will each award 100 points, with another 500 points awarded through online voting. That’s where the GA community comes in. Hill hopes pilots and other aviation enthusiasts will go online to and vote for him.

Deadline for voting is Sept. 19. At the same link is a video of Hill explaining his concept for EasyFBO.

“These young entrepreneurs are solving a variety of problems in extraordinary ways,” said Amy Cosper, editor in chief at Entrepreneur. “Now that we’re down to the final five, we’re eager to see what happens next in the voting phase. The results will show us which startup idea resonates with the small-business community and help us pick the ultimate winner.”

The college student, who turns 20 this month, plans to make a career in the aviation industry. And once he earns his degree in economics, with a minor in business, expect other innovative ideas from the young pilot.
“A day doesn’t go by without another idea crossing my mind,” he said.

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