Chart Air, one of the student-created companies in Knox College's 2017 StartUp Term, is participating in a selective program for technology startups that offers educational and networking opportunities, seed capital, and office space in Chicago.
Through the program, Chart Air owners say, the company is "taking it to the next level."
An aviation services business, Chart Air was one of just nine companies invited to the 2017 session of Elmspring, a real estate accelerator that supports technology startups through a network of real estate and venture partners. The four-month program started in late June, and Elmspring participants work out of the well-known Chicago technology hub 1871.
"We're pretty young and we're pretty new as a company, so it was a very exciting surprise for us to get in, especially since we were told later that 134 groups applied," said Olivia Keneipp '17, one of the members of the Chart Air team.
In addition to being selected for Elmspring selection, Chart Air received the Donald R. Stroben Entrepreneur Award, which was created to "support entrepreneurship opportunities for students at Knox."
Chart Air aims to make flight planning easier and more efficient through an online platform that provides information about specific fees that airports charge for private airplane flights. Using Chart Air's platform means that pilots, businesses, and others no longer would have to call individual airports to ask about the fees, which vary from one place to another.
The Chart Air entrepreneurs got their start on the Knox campus through StartUp Term, an immersive academic experience where students form teams that build companies offering different types of products and services.
"Knox has definitely had a huge influence," said Logan Ayers '18, another member of the Chart Air team.
"If it wasn't for Knox, we wouldn't even have been put in contact with Bob Gillespie [a 1990 Knox alumnus and executive director of Elmspring]," Ayers added. "The only reason we knew about this in the first place is he's a Knox alum, and the professors invited him down to speak with us. He was really encouraging. He basically told us we should apply."
Through the Elmspring program, Chart Air members have been meeting with numerous mentors and working on short- and long-term plans for developing the company.
"In StartUp Term, we had four professors," Ayers said. "In Elmspring, it's like we have 30."
(Photo at top of page: Chart Air team members at work during StartUp Term 2017.)