Profiles of Innovation
Tyson Weihs' definition of an entrepreneur is "somebody that creates something from nothing — someone that identifies an opportunity in the marketplace or a need and builds an enterprise around that."
That's pretty much what Weihs did when he co-founded ForeFlight, a Houston-based company that makes apps for a pilot's iPad or iPhone. Instead of having to lug a large manual onto a flight as mandated by the Federal Aviation Agency, a pilot now has all of the same information at his or her fingertips via the ForeFlight app.
Weihs was bitten by the flying bug in 2001 when he got invited to travel with his boss, who piloted a private aircraft.
"At that point I was smitten, I knew it was something I really wanted to learn how to do," he told videographers John Carrithers and Douglas Newman in the latest of installment of Profiles of Innovation, a CultureMap series that highlights Houston entrepreneurs.
Early on after getting his pilot's license, Weihs noticed there was no such software available for pilots.
"So just out of necessity, my partners and I started creating some tools that we could use to do simple things like get weather information and eventually file flight plans," he recalled. "It was process of continuous refinement from that point, adding a little feature at a time really focusing on trying to make a pilot's life a little bit easier."
Now the app is so sophisticated that most pilots can perform 90 percent of the tasks for pre-flight planning and in-flight navigation from their mobile phone with the app.
"Working on ForeFlight has been a fantastic experience because it marries a passion that I have for aviation with my skills as a developer and my nature as an entrepreneur," Weihs said. "The tools that we are building are being used by tens of thousands of pilots every day. Knowing that we are making that big of an impact on this emerging market is just a great thing to be a part of."