The thought of visiting exotic, far-away places is a siren call to many of us. We daydream about broadening our horizons—literally and figuratively—by experiencing foreign foods, different languages and colorful sights. The only thing capable of crushing our reverie is the thought of first having to contend with … THE AIRPORT.
But thanks to fellow travel-enthusiast Leo Osahor (MBA 2007, MSM 2007), there’s hope and relief in the form of flightSpeak, the largest and most comprehensive global airport app for travelers. FlightSpeak offers information about more than 315 airports worldwide, including security wait times, shopping locations and WIFI access, while also helping to connect users with other travelers.
“I had a bad experience with an airline and said I would never fly that airline again,” said Osahor of the catalyst for creating flightSpeak. “I love to travel and when that [negative] experience was repeated with other airlines, I realized that if I was going to fulfill my dream of travel, I was going to have to solve the problem a different way.”
An employee of Microsoft at the time (he was recruited by the company during his first year at Daniels), Osahor began the iterative process of developing flightSpeak in 2011. Roughly two years, several versions and a handful of collaborators later, Osahor left Microsoft in January 2013 to focus solely on his venture. He launched flightSpeak later that year flying solo with no employees. Today, Osahor has 10 employees in four countries and is recruiting more, and flightSpeak is garnering attention from outlets like the Seattle Times and GeekWire. Earlier this month, Osahor announced flightSpeak’s exclusive partnership with Lyft for a national campaign that rewards travelers who share their insights and tips with a month of free rides to the airport.
While his time at Microsoft was formative, allowing Osahor to learn new skills and hone others, he credits Daniels with contributing to a solid foundation for his professional journey.
“I wanted to put myself in the best position to accelerate my career, so I chose Daniels because of its rankings, and its focus on ethics was something that resonated with me personally,” he said. “There was an emphasis on leadership and strategy in several cases that really helped me to think bigger and look at things in a 360-degree fashion,” he continued, citing case studies with real-world application, and faculty like Barb Kreisman and Kerry Plemmons, as particularly enriching to his Daniels experience.
When asked what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, Osahor mentions stamina, good communication and the importance of working with the right team. He also recommends keeping your eyes on the big picture—or problem.
“Don’t fall in love with the idea, because the idea will change. If you fall in love with solving the problem, it opens the door for creativity and I think that allows you to be more flexible when different opportunities emerge,” he said.
And when it comes to leadership, flightSpeak’s founder and CEO has some very simple advice.
“It’s about treating people with respect. People are important,” said Osahor. “There’s something about being an observer in life and listening and learning and watching that I think is very powerful. That’s something I try to practice on a regular basis. Whoever you meet, they have a story. When you can quiet your voice and listen to theirs, I think it will enrich your world view so much more.”
For more information about flightSpeak and to download the free airport app, visit flightspeak.net.