Purdue Startup Targets Airline Food Carts

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A Purdue University-affiliated student startup thinks its innovation will help airlines become more efficient. Operating out of the Purdue Railyard, FlykeART has developed what it calls a lighter and smarter galley cart for airlines, which co-founder Yuhan Roh says could save airlines millions of dollars in fuel costs. The slimmer cart design, according to Purdue, would also help make the carts less of an injury threat for travelers.

On The INnovators with Dr. K, Roh said the goal of the technology is to help airlines with aircraft weight.

"Airlines are currently overspending millions and millions of dollars because the airplane food cart itself is so heavy and inefficient," said Roh. "Current airplane food carts are about 25-35 kilograms; our product's going to be eight kilograms, containing the same amount of food and same structure. Let's just say a domestic flight under six hours and then a small plane contains about 30 carts and then just one-way, we can save them about $400 per flight."

Roh says an innovation on the fuel cart hasn't been done previously because the aviation industry is very conservative and any innovation or technology must me thoroughly checked and certified. He adds airlines are also more focused on other issues and tend to overlook smaller potential innovations such as the food cart.

FlykeART has, to date, received the majority of its funding through pitch competitions and startup accelerators. However, Roh says they are looking for venture capital investors to help the company further its technology.

"We are getting into manufacturing and distribution so we definitely want to work on how we're going to make let's just say 8,500 to 10,000 carts in a day. So that's going to be the main thing we're going to work on this coming year."

Dr. K provided O'Toole with a "prescription" in the form of "The ABCs of Venture Growth Challenges":

  • Acquire capital for next steps
  • Build a distribution sales network
  • Consider strategic partnership in the airline industry

Roh co-founded FlykeART along with fellow students Juan Pablo Mascaretti, Juan Ramirez and Federico Brandt. 

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