Flyover No More: Why Direct Flights Spur Innovation

We aren’t in Kansas or flyover country any more.

Okay, so we never were in Kansas. But until this week, flying to the West Coast took eight or nine hours plus a connection, and there was no way to hop to Boston without a sashay through Chicago, Houston, or DC.

Yesterday Southwest announced direct flights to and from Boston and Oakland from Port Columbus International Airport.

The mayor’s office, Franklin County, Columbus 2020, local executives, and other collaborative entities here who are committed to powering innovation in this region just broke down a barrier.

These new flights directly connect our startups with the sources of talent and venture capital in the two nationally dominant hotbeds of entrepreneurial activity.

That’s important, and here’s why:

  • There are fewer VCs today than ten years ago. That means fewer general partners in these firms with less time to travel. Angel investors are increasingly syndicating on deals in other geographies. Anything that a community can do to make itself more accessible to angels and VCs is a big plus.
  • The new flights make it not only easier for VCs to get to us; it’s now more efficient for Columbus entrepreneurs to reach out to remote sources of capital. To VCs and angels, company founders and management teams are as important—maybe more so—than product.  Meeting face-to-face just got easier.
  • Entrepreneurs never have enough time. Saving travel days matters; it really does.
  • Columbus is a great place to start a company. We have an attractive cost of living, a terrific quality of life, and so many advantages for entrepreneurs. These flights take some of the hassle out of interview trips. Plus, when our company founders are recruiting talent from the East or West Coast, it helps when prospective employees know that they are only a non-stop flight away from visiting family or friends.

When we talk about the business and public sector communities working together to make our region a nationally recognized innovation hub, this is an example of what we mean.

No more waving from the ground.