One of our newest members has quickly become a fan favorite. Tom Filippini, founder & CEO of StraightLine Private Air, is an outgoing entrepreneur who is spreading his wings across the private aviation industry. As the former owner of a successful luxury travel company, Tom sees the importance of experience over material items, a concept that directly aligns with us here at Shift. We want our members to experience a work-life balance that is healthy and productive for them.
We met with Tom to learn what makes StraightLine unique and why he sees the need for a new type of private airline. And we couldn’t help but ask him why he chose Shift to be his new home base for the budding start-up!
Tom, give us the rundown. What is StraightLine Private Air, and how is it different from your competitors?
StraightLine Private Air is the world’s first ultra-affordable private aviation solution. Our members fly on their terms and are at long last released from the shackles of commercial airline schedules, inconveniences & routing. They fly where they want, when they want, with whom they desire.
We’re different in that we provide access to over 5,000 domestic airports in every corner of the country versus just 350 (and declining) major cities served by commercial carriers. Think of us as UBER, but for the skies. We make it simple & cost-effective to access safe, clean, affordable airplanes no matter where our members are in the country, soon the world. We reduce cost – as UBER does – by aggregating, standardizing and providing seamless access to previously fragmented, underutilized assets (planes vs. cars) & operators (pilots vs. drivers).
That’s muy innovative. How did you evolve to get where you are as an entrepreneur?
Well, my entrepreneurial endeavors have held a consistent theme – they all have involved creating companies that introduce innovative & financially attainable ways for consumers to enjoy life’s greatest, most unique travel & private aviation experiences.
Prior to StraightLine, I founded Exclusive Resorts, the world’s largest & most respected Luxury Destination Club, which was acquired by its current Chairman & majority owner Steve Case (AOL & Revolution Founder). Exclusive Resorts annually serves 10’s of thousands of discerning luxury travelers exploring all 7 continents. It’s also widely considered one of the early pioneers of the “sharing economy,” a business strategy that I applied to StraightLine, making private aviation more accessible to more people than ever before.
We love and adhere to the “experience over things” concept and feel like this is vital to attaining a sense of wholeness. How do you feel like StraightLine achieves this and how does it inspire you?
I’m inspired by helping people create a lifestyle for themselves that would otherwise be unattainable. My former company, Exclusive Resorts, provides its members access to over $1 billion worth of luxury vacation homes, which they enjoy by paying a one-time membership fee costing less than the down payment on a single, modest second home. They travel the world as though this portfolio of hundreds of homes is theirs and theirs only. It wasn’t the luxury and opulence of Exclusive Resorts that inspired me, but the experiences & memories that our platform served to create for families, friends & colleagues on a global basis.
There’s a similar theme with StraightLine. We are creating a global “matrix” of affordable aircraft that members can utilize to once again craft memories & experiences. Ultimately, we are giving them “found” time to do with it what they please. Whether it’s knocking a business trip to multiple locations that would otherwise require several, independent trips or allowing a family to visit several disparate national parks in a single journey, we are creating a platform that enables togetherness, memory-making & never-dreamed-of experiences.
We definitely understand the value of time, but also the importance of simple luxuries. How has Shift helped you and your company cultivate a happier livelihood since you’ve joined?
The amenities of Shift are better than I’d seen in any other environment. From the workout facilities to the free healthy snacks, everything is dialed. I also live 6 blocks away, so it’s a 60 second commute! I wake up early – between 3:30 and 4:30 – so I shoot over here to get some work done before heading back to get my kids ready for school. I couldn’t do that if I was anywhere else. And parking is a breeze!
We’re thrilled to create a happy, healthy environment for you and our community. It’s what makes us tick!
What sort of exciting plans do you have for StraightLine? Or any personal plans coming up? I know you are an avid skier!
I have been and will continue to travel to small airports around the country building out our matrix of small, independent aircraft owners & operators that serve our members. I’m a student pilot myself, hoping to finish up my private pilot license by May to make these trips a bit easier!
There are several conferences upcoming, where aviation industry professionals gather to discuss the state of private aviation. The industry has taken notice of our new model, so I will be speaking at various events, which should be exciting.
On a personal level, I enjoy skiing with my wife and our three girls, so we’ll be making our usual weekend trips to the mountains. Our go-to mountains are Vail, Beaver Creek & Steamboat. Having grown up skiing on the landfill known as Wilmot Mountain in Southern Wisconsin (now available on the EPIC pass…not kidding!), we’ll ski pretty much anywhere in Colorado!
We’re planning a family ski trip in March to Germany, Austria and Switzerland. My Mom turns 70 this summer, so we’ll be celebrating on a small ship from Vancouver to Anchorage. It will be quite a celebration – between Mom & Dad, my four siblings, spouses and kids, there will be 22 of us, so there certainly won’t be a dull moment!
Find out more or contact Tom at www.flystraightline.com!