September 21, 2014

Trendsetters: Young Entrepreneurs

Imagine Using a Helicopter to Commute

Mike Vogel | 7/1/2009

Ray Leavitt envisions a future in which helicopters and vertical takeoff planes, routed by his software platform, shuttle commuters for a pricey fare around south Florida and other congested metros. The 25-year-old’s dream isn’t that far-fetched. The model for his EvoLux Transportation is based on research Georgia Tech conducted for the Atlanta Olympic games on an aerial transport system, which Leavitt is evolving with newer technology for commuter use.

Ray Leavitt
Ray Leavitt
EvoLux Transportation
Founder, Boca Raton
? [Photo: Scott Wiseman]
A graduate of Mandarin High School in Jacksonville and a kicker for Florida Atlantic University until he injured his kicking leg in a car accident, Leavitt had his aerial epiphany a few years back. He has since learned that investors like businesses more than concepts. So he runs taxijet.com, an Expedia for private plane reservations that allows small operators to compete with larger fleets. It earns 5% per trip it books. He hopes it will be a springboard to helicopter service for VIPs going between cruise ships, golf courses, hotels or business meetings via local airports and heliports. São Paolo, Brazil, with its nightmare traffic congestion, has such a service. “He’s one of the most passionate entrepreneurs I ever met,” says Jane Teague, executive director of the Enterprise Development Corp. of South Florida.

Leavitt’s so hungry to be an entrepreneur that in 2007 he waited twice in a grip-and-grin line to see Virgin founder Richard Branson. He wanted to double his couple of minutes to pitch Branson. Leavitt posted the picture of Branson and him on his company’s website. For now, Leavitt works from an office he leases at the EDC-run incubator at the FAU research park. Bigger things are coming, he says. “I can see it. I can taste it.”

Tags: Trendsetters

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