6/10/2015 | Brandt Handley

Albert Szent-Györgyi, the famous Hungarian physiologist who discovered the benefits of Vitamin C, once said, “Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” Think about all the time you waste waiting in airport lines, going through TSA security, and sitting at boarding gates.  You have to ask yourself: “What if it was different?”    

Enter Surf Air, America’s first membership airline and where ROI is a Founding Member since 2013. When everybody else was focused on the annoyances of 21st Century air travel, these innovators saw opportunity.  Unlike with charter services, Surf Air offers a consistent and reliable flight schedule.  And it’s affordable! Members pay a one-time initiation fee plus monthly membership, and, for that, they get to fly as much as they want and are able to invite guests, too. There’s also a corporate option that allows members to include multiple employees and you can opt in for dormancy status if you foresee not using the service in any given month.

Surf Air CEO Jeff Potter says, “We’re providing the convenience and service that used to be available only to the affluent and offering it to a broader market. Our members can fly as much as they want, but what they’re really paying for is the time we give back to do other things.” Airport security is one example. Surf Air conducts background checks on its members during the application process, so they don’t have to deal with TSA checks every time they fly – just arrive at the terminal and board!

 Potter believes that Surf Air is ideal for Middle Market CEOs because it eliminates the time constraints of both commercial aviation and the expense of charter flights. “In the Middle Market,” he explains, “you’ve got more people wearing multiple hats. The flexibility to book a flight at the last minute – our booking process takes 20 seconds – adds value. And so does the ability to park easily, avoid lines, and eliminate all of that extra time you have to sit around and wait.”

 At the moment, Surf Air serves only California but the company has big plans for national expansion.  Potter urges Middle Market CEOs to speak up about new markets. “If you go on our website,” Potter explains, “you can tell us where you want us to fly, and we’ll let you know when we get there.”

 Surf Air offers Middle Market CEOs opportunities to save both time and money. But that’s not the only lesson to take from this: Surf Air looked at an inconvenience and saw opportunity. Which of your problems could inspire innovation and new growth?  And what are you planning to do about it?