Alex is the Founder and CEO of PlaneAhead that is changing the world. Not just because of what his company does, but the way they’re going to do it. It’s about opening doors that have been closed, lighting people and places that have been dark for too long. Join them in making positive change!
Alex’s passion for travel started when he studied abroad in Australia. As soon as he stepped out of the plane, he knew he was meant to see the world. Though he didn’t know it then, the reason for seeing it was to teach him. As Alex started to visit countries around the world, he started to learn things about people he’s known for years, solely by stepping foot in the country of their ancestors. His awareness, his empathy, his respect, and his curiosity for who people are grows every time he sees a different part of the world. So let him help you see the world too.
PlaneAhead’s mission is to get you back to what matters most: enjoying experiences with loved ones in places around the world. Unlike third-party vendors, PlaneAhead monitors the real-time value and cost of flights for their members, not projected/assumption-based cost-market value of flights with little-to-no consideration into how COVID-related issues play a role in the pricing of flights. PlaneAhead offers a seamless experience to their members to book flights for travel with ease.
No more wasting time thinking about the trips you wish you took.
No more wishing you had the money to make memories with your family.
No more sacrificing your time and your comfort to save a buck.
Where did the idea for PlaneAhead come from?
I was actually on paternity leave with my daughter and I got an email from Southwest for a sale, so I went on and changed a flight I had to my sister’s wedding to see if I could take advantage of the cheaper prices and I got $600! I texted my family group chats to do the same and we saved a couple of thousand dollars collectively. I couldn’t believe how easy that was and nobody, no company does that. So I did it!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Chaos! But organized chaos. I try my best to set up my day the night before by taking a look at the calls I have and understanding what outcomes I’m trying to achieve from each call. From there I can prepare to make the most of those. In between calls, I’m understanding how I can optimize our operations, how we can strategize for the short and long term, preparing for eventual venture capital fundraising. No day looks the same, but that’s what makes it a blast!
How do you bring ideas to life?
Do it. Sounds overly simple, but too many people are overthinkers. I happen to be one of those people in other areas of my life. The people that talk about it but don’t do are the ones on the sidelines when great things are created, discovered, accomplished. The fear of failure stops many people from just doing. Where do you start? If you don’t know, then Google it. That’s the only start you’ll need.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It excites me that companies are being more inclusive than ever before. Not just in their hiring practices, but in the products and services they’re providing. Our world is going to look very different 10 years from now as this wave of entrepreneurs become more household names and they will breed incredible talent to follow them.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Inbox “0”! I watched this video at the beginning of the year that went through the process of effectively getting your inbox to zero EVERY DAY. Such an incredible practice and I recommend people to learn that skill. It clears your mind and sharpens your focus on what needs to be done.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Remain confident in yourself, be open, and keep learning. There have been times in my career where I let the opinions of others cloud what I thought about my skills and what I was able to accomplish.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Taking time off to recharge is more important than grinding all the time. Society and social media will tell you there’s a grind or “no days off” culture that is celebrated, but those things will run you into the ground without the appropriate care for your body and mind.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Plan your day the night before.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I’m not so sure it’s a strategy as it is a mindset and that’s to listen to your customers when they tell you what they want. Now, there is a component where you’ll also need to anticipate their needs because they don’t always know what they want, but by and large, the feedback that you collect at the beginning will build a strong foundation for a product or service that people will pay for.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Failing as an entrepreneur is part of the gig. I fail almost every day and the only way to overcome it is to first be honest about your failure. Take accountability and then you understand how you can learn from it. Sometimes the learning is productive and turns into a new product or feature and sometimes the learning is simple ‘don’t do that again!’
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I don’t know how this would work. I’ll leave it to much smarter people than me to figure this out but an app that’s wearable to track my mental health. Maybe it looks at dopamine or a slew of other factors but when your heads down and trying to get a business off the ground, you can lose track of how you are feeling mentally and emotionally. There are a lot of fitness trackers but our mind is as important as our body.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent $30 to go to dinner with a CEO in the last month and in that time at dinner, he connected me with multiple investors and CEOs in my industry that could help grow what I’m doing. Oh yeah, and the food was delicious!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Zapier is a lifesaver. Most of the applications and software I use can be connected through APIs to make these workflows happen automatically. Talk about a time saver?! I use it to send automatic emails, get updates on new customers, and give me status on the business. There’s no limit!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are so many books to read! I’m going to break the rules, but you have to read a few books! Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck, will challenge you in the best way to better yourself. Venture Deals by Brad Feld is a must. So much to learn when it comes to raising money and that book made me feel as prepared as I could. I would say the most important on this list is the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. How you relate to people is key in any walk of life and if you use this book to understand the people around you better, you’ll be better for it.
What is your favorite quote?
Well this actually just became my favorite quote and it’s from the show Ted Lasso, but it is extraordinarily relevant to the life of an entrepreneur.
“Two buttons I never like to push and that’s panic and snooze.”
- No day looks the same, but that’s what makes it a blast!
- Bring ideas to life by just doing them
- Companies are being more inclusive than ever before
- Failing as an entrepreneur is part of the gig
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.