Meet Ryan Thornton

InvitePilotName: Ryan Thornton
Alma Mater: University of Georgia
Major: Political Science and French with a Study Abroad program in Lyon, France.
Hometown: Tucker, Georgia
Website: InvitePilot

How long have you been in Athens? I’ve been in Athens for the past 5 years, but I’ve been working here through previous jobs since 2005.

Why Athens? Quality of life and Four Athens. I wouldn’t have started my company without Four Athens. It has the network, the resources to help a business get started and grow the way you should.
Athens is manageable. Atlanta is just so big and overwhelming that you’ll end up having limited contact with your network. You can build a great network but the quality suffers. Athens has a great balance of both being livable and workable. It’s small enough that you’ll get contact with the quality you want, but it’s big enough to have all the resources you need.

Tell me a little bit about InvitePilotOur company is We connect travelers with destinations. The idea here is to prove this concept in the aviation sector. We provide a service to professional pilots, to both make their job and life easier. When they travel they use our service (much like an OpenTable model) for reservations for different services they may need.  It’s a tough job being a pilot. They travel a lot and are doing things to look out for their passengers. We want to help them arrange things to make their job as a pilot easier. Not for their passengers, but for themselves as a pilot. Help them connect with their destination before they get there by linking pilots to service providers at various destinations.

What sparked this concept? This idea was initially sparked back in 2002. I had been working for a company in Airport Real Estate. I worked with pilots and realized the many difficulties that they face. They travel frequently, some things work out while other times it does not. Typically, the smaller the flight department, the harder their life is. We couldn’t develop this idea back in 2002 because the technology wasn’t available. We put it on the shelf and pulled it back out in December.

Will there be a launch soon? Yes. If you go onto our website, you can sign up to be alerted when we launch. The launch is to build our user base. We’re using the month of June to test the service and get it user ready. We’re hoping that July 1st will be our big launch.

Anything else you may like to add? Thanks to Four Athens for all the assistance that they’ve provided. It’s a great community, and it’s a great network. Jim and all the staff, and volunteers have been really helpful. Jim is leveraging what we don’t have but want more of. We don’t have an investor base in Athens, but Jim is doing all that he can to develop that. The Pitch Camp was a great solution. It’ll come and Four Athens is leading that cause. It really is headed the right direction and I saw that from my experience with the Atlanta Tech Village. I’ve been involved with ATV since the Fall and compared that model to this one. It’s a different setting and purpose behind how ATV is setting up support. Regardless, it’s all about building this entrepreneur base. Both these centers are helping this state and the respective cities. I appreciate the collaboration of the two, we’ve benefitted from that a lot.

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