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Starter Studio Series: FlightFishing

George Haskell founded FlightFishing in part because there’s something very special about traveling, something that George captures perfectly in his own words:

“There’s a feeling you get when you step off of a plane in a place that you’ve never been before.  People don’t speak your language, you’re surrounded by things that you haven’t seen before, food you’ve never tried, scents you’ve never smelled.  When you’re inside your own culture the only time you get to experience so many new things is when you’re an infant but when you travel…you get to experience new things again.”

This feeling that comes along with being on the edge of a whole new world of experiences is what fuels George’s passion for travel, and it’s what led George to become a cheap-airfare-finding guru. When George and his wife would return from, say, dodging wild camels while driving a pink subcompact through the deserts of Israel and Jordan, his family would always wonder how he managed to travel to such amazing places with so little money.

George’s process for finding cheap fares to cool places was complicated. So, eventually, he decided to create a site that could pull together all of his cheap-fare-finding prowess, and thus, FlightFishing was born. FlightFishing is a free email alert service that sends you info on cheap flights to places that you’d like to visit.

This past March, George left a position at Disney to start working on FlightFighing full time. Having spent the last 9 years working for Disney, taking the leap to work on his own was tough, but Starter Studio and the Orlando tech community have both made it easier for George to transition from corporate to startup life. He is regularly surprised by how helpful and passionate the Orlando tech community is, and he loves that he is surrounded by other Starter Studio participants who are asking smart questions that keep him motivated to excel at building his own business.

George is currently working on driving traffic to FlightFishing.com and getting people to sign up for fare alerts. On August 6th, Starter Studio’s Demo Day, he is hoping to show off some “neat data for people interested in [his] business and in travel in general.”

I’m looking forward to George’s presentation on Demo Day, but until then, I’m definitely signing up for some FlightFishing email alerts, and I’m probably going to try to have a travel experience that’s even cooler than dodging camels in a pink subcompact. I might not be able to pull this off, but at least I’ll get to experience that feeling that drives George’s passion for travel: I’ll step off a plane into an unknown place knowing that I’m about to have a completely new set of a experiences, and thanks to George, I’ll also know that I paid the lowest price possible for the priceless journey on which I’m about to embark.

When and how did you interest in travel start?

I’ve loved travel from a very young age.  From early Disneyland road trips and traveling the country in our vintage motorhome to school trips to Europe in high school, my parents provided some great travel experiences in my youth that have really stuck with me.

What do you like most about traveling?

There’s a feeling you get when you step off of a plane in a place that you’ve never been before.  People don’t speak your language, you’re surrounded by things that you haven’t seen before, food you’ve never tried, scents you’ve never smelled.  When you’re inside your own culture the only time you get to experience so many new things is when you’re an infant but when you travel, especially to non-western locales, you get to experience new things again.

What’s the coolest place you’ve ever traveled?

That question is so hard to answer!  My wife and I spent a week dodging wild camels driving a pink subcompact through the deserts of Israel and Jordan a couple years ago.  Getting the opportunity to  visit Petra, to hike through some of the most beautiful deserts in the world, and to meet some of the most interesting people.  We’ve also really enjoyed traveling through Russia in winter and Japan over the New Years holiday.

Did you ever catch flights for your family members so they could travel cheap?

Yes! My sister lives in France so we always seem to be looking for flights to get her back or to get my parents there.

Can you say more about the data you’ll be sharing on Demo Day?

I don’t think they’ll let me talk for hours and I haven’t figured out my favorite bits to share yet.  Sorry!

How did Flight Fishing get started?

I started Flight Fishing because over the past few years I have gotten very good at finding really cheap flights to places all over the world like $285 to Milan or $360 to Tel Aviv.  When I would get home, friends and family would always ask where I found such good deals but the answer was complicated.  I was watching dozens of blogs, twitter accounts, deal sites, and more. Frankly, it was more work than most people were willing to do to save a few hundred dollars on a flight so I decided to start building Flight Fishing to pull everything into one place.  A website that catches deals from all over the internet and lets you know when it finds what you’re looking for.

When did you decide to “take the leap” and start working on Flight fishing full-time? What was that decision like?

I decided to take the leap in March of this year.  My wife and I had some long conversations about what it would look like when I left my day job and we ran some numbers looking at what success and failure could look like. Having spent the last 9 years working for Disney, taking the leap and starting out on my own has been tough but it was definitely the right decision.

You just got into Starter Studio. How has that been so far?

When I applied for Starter Studio I had just decided to leave my job and I am so grateful to Gregg Pollack and the rest of the folks that made Starter Studio happen because it has really given me  a great way to transition out of the corporate world and into the world of entrepreneurship.  I’ve been surrounded by smart people asking smart questions and that has been such a driver for me.​

What are your goals while you’re there?

My goals primarily revolve around driving traffic to the site.

Any idea what you’ll be revealing on demo day?

We’re primarily an e-mail alert service so I don’t have anything to “demo” but I will have some really neat data to share both for people who are interested in my business and interested in travel in general.

How has the Orlando Tech community helped you?

I actually live all the way down in Davenport and Starter Studio has been my first exposure to the Orlando Tech community.  I am still surprised every day by how passionate, generous, and experienced this community is.

What’s the most challenging part about being an entrepreneur? The best part?

I’m really passionate about travel and I love the fact that my site helps people find deals that allow them to travel more.

Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs?

Start something.  I met a guy recently who had a 10-year savings plan to have enough money to start a business and it drove me crazy!  Even if he had just put in 10 hour a week he could have learned to code, built a product, and released it in far less time.  There’s no perfect time to start a business and it’s never going to be easy so you might as well get started.

Is there anything you want me to tell the world about you?

Yes!  We run a free fare alert service that helps people find new places to travel and cheap ways to get there.  We’re catching some really low fares for fall so if you love to travel you should check out the site and sign up for one of our free fare alerts.  Tell us where you want to go and we’ll find a fare for you.

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