Interview with Lincoln Dow
Lincoln Dow is a 14-year-old currently attending St. John School in Houston as an 8th grader. He has been a lover of fall aviation-related things since he was seven years old, and began working to implement his idea for People and Pets when he was nine year old. He is also an avid supporter of animal welfare.
CKW LUXE: What inspired you to start People and Pets?
LINCOLN DOW: I first had the idea for People and Pets when I was nine, and my family decided we were going to ship our dog Franklin from Houston, Texas, to Salt Lake City, Utah. Franklin flew on United Airlines, but the process was very stressful for us, and I decided I wanted to create a better service. Since that summer. I've made numerous changes to my idea until eventually becoming a company in June 2014.
CKW: How did you start the project?
LD: The first major event on the timeline was when I attended the Houston Pet Expo in 2012. Up until that point, I had been pondering the idea, but I had no idea if there was a demand for this service. The Expos in 2012, and subsequently in 2013, game the reassurance that this was a good idea, and ultimately after years of planning and research, I finalized my plans and purchased an aircraft.
CKW: How were your parents involved?
LD: From the time I first had the idea until the spring of 2014, my parents were very supportive. I don't think my parents realized that I was serious about People and Pets, because, let's be honest, starting a company before even entering school is not common! When I started talking about buying a plane, hiring employees, and spending considerable amounts of money, a lot changed. At first, my parents tried to persuade me not to start People and Pets, and for good reason. Airlines are some of the least lucrative business in the world. As Richard Branson put it, "If you want to be a millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline." Combine this difficult business with my complete lack of experience, and this was not going to be easy! Of course, I decided to go ahead, and since then my parents have been incredibly supportive.
CKW: What challenges have you had to overcome?
LD: Nothing is ever simple in the aviation industry, especially not when you're launching a new air carrier. The largest hurdle on the path to starting flights is obtaining a Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA. To try and expedite this process as much as possible. I'm working with a consulting firm that's launched over 40 airlines. Small obstacle have included USDA Animal Welfare certification, becoming an LLC, hiring pilots, and even opening bank accounts. That's easier said than done when you can't legally enter the contract!
CKW: What are some of your plans for the future?
LD: I wish I had an accurate estimate on when People and Pets could begin regular operations, but due to the lengthy FAA process, any estimates I give are closes to guesses. There is, however, a component of People and Pets that we can launch without FAA certification, as flights are not for compensation. PAWfund is our charity program that we intend to launch in early 2015, before normal flights. Stay tuned.
CKW: What advice would you give someone around your age who wants to start a business?
LD: I'm by no means an expert, but the best advice I can give would be to just go for it. If there's something you're passionate about. and then even if you don't end up making money, you'll learn a lot, and have lots of fun along the way. The experiences I've had with People and Pets have been great, and will be useful for the rest of my life. The majority of kids my age probably don't have the money to start and airline, but there are plenty of other business that don't require so much of an investment. Most importantly, keep in mind that nothing is going to work unless you're willing to put in the effort. Without a drive to make business work, there's no way it's going to happen. Starting People and Pets, especially while balancing this with school has been a huge challenge, and it's not the sort of challenge for everyone, but it's been a great experience.