FlyRuby is one of 53 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Spring 2011 event taking place this week in Palm Desert, Calif. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective.
Online private flight booking company FlyRuby announced today that it is launching at the DEMO Spring 2011 conference in Palm Springs, Calif.
Like other flight-sharing services, FlyRuby works with private air charters to find the cheapest form of transportation. The company works with more than 3,000 private jet operators across the country to help its users find an alternative to mainstream airlines. FlyRuby sells private-jet flights by the seat.
The service was originally developed by Carnegie Mellon University as part of a project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that was supposed to help the air force manage its private jets. The service crawls those databases to find empty seats on privately-chartered flights across the country and connects its users with those pilots and charter companies. More than 40 percent of privately-chartered flights end up with empty seats, according to the company.
There are other private-flight booking companies, like Blue Star Jets. But none of them have achieved the same visibility that some of the more popular flight search startups — such as Hipmunk or Sidestep — have achieved. That’s probably because the whole process typically involves a quote and some kind of conversation rather than a direct transaction. Blue Star Jets, for example, only offers its users a quote as to how much the flight will cost — they can’t directly book through the site.
FlyRuby’s site will let its users book privately chartered jets online without having to go through that typical process. So it is basically taking on typical flight search companies because it aims to be a site for transactions rather than connecting fliers with potential private charter companies. It’s a pretty significant barrier to entry — so now it only depends on whether the flights end up cheaper than mainstream airline flights.
The Pittsburgh, Phil.-based company was founded in 2009 and has ten employees. It has raised funding from private investors and Carnegie Mellon University.