From idea, to start-up to being acquired…, all within 1,5 years. The story of Bonanza.aero
In this blogpost, we discover Dennis Michon’s story on how ticket pricing started in him an entrepreneurial fire that would lead him to start his own company and eventually sell it to FLYR Labs, an industry leader and pioneer of The Revenue Operating System™. Dennis is Bonanza.aero’s co-founder and former director. The company used to be one of the Aerospace Innovation Hub’s community members and Start-up Voucher winners. Bonanza offers solutions to airlines assisting on their Revenue Management (RM) practices. In laymen terms, RM is the practice of predicting airplane ticket prices and integrating these algorithms in Revenue Management systems of the clients.
How did you come up with the idea to predict airline ticket prices?
Dennis studied aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology. During his studies, he was always fascinated by the way ticket pricing worked. He was always trying to get the cheapest possible tickets to whichever destination he wanted to go. Using the analytical and programming skills he learnt during his studies, Dennis went on to pursue a career in Revenue Management and was employed by Qantas, Australia’s largest airline. After working in Sydney for three years, he got the opportunity to set up and run a local development office for Qantas in Amsterdam. After this period, he was eager to do more beyond Revenue Management; Dennis joined Skyteam where he met Charles Ruesch while working on a project of cross-selling ancillary products of all members of the airline alliance. This is where the idea of starting their own company really took off. The last push in the back was given by the COVID-19 pandemic when the project Dennis was working in at Skyteam was stopped. In July 2020, Dennis co-founded Bonanza.aero together with Charles and two fellow Aerospace Engineering alumni – Bram Strack van Schijndel and Bob Vlamings – working on ad hoc RM and Distribution projects for different clients within the airline industry.
Why did you choose the Aerospace Innovation Hub @ TU Delft?
Since three out of the four founders of Bonanza are alumni of the Faculty of Aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology, they were all familiar with the outstanding reputation of the institution, especially in the aerospace sector. They applied for the Start-up Voucher program hosted by the faculty and the Aerospace Innovation Hub and won it in the winter of 2020. It was not necessarily the prize money that attracted them to apply but rather the connection with the university. In March of 2021, the young start-up wanted to integrate more in the Aerospace Innovation Hub’s community and decided to move their office from Haarlem to Delft. The network of industry professionals combined with the strong connection to the academia made the Aerospace Innovation Hub a very attractive place to settle for Bonanza.
Being coached by an aerospace industry professional, Victor Rijkaart, proved to be very fruitful for the young start-up. Leveraging the network that was given to them and structuring the organization in such a way that it was most productive were all important lessons that were guided by the coach.
Who acquired Bonanza and what does the future hold?
In August 2021, Dennis was contacted by Alex Mans, the founder of FLYR Labs. FLYR, a Revenue Management software provider for the airline industry, was founded in 2013. The company had recently secured a Series C funding round of $150 million and was expanding its team and suite of services. With their newly opened office in Amsterdam, the acquisition of Bonanza.aero was a logical step to strengthen their European base.
Dennis described how during his studies he read an article in a Dutch newspaper about an entrepreneur working on a successful business in predicting airline ticket prices. The article stuck to him and inspired him to pursue his interests and a career in Revenue Management. The entrepreneur mentioned in the article turned out to be Alex Mans. Having been Dennis’ inspiration, it was clear that the next chapter for Bonanza was to join forces with FLYR.
Dennis found the word “acquihire” a better term to describe FLYR’s embrace of Bonanza. In Silicon Valley jargon this means acquiring a company not with the goal of gaining ownership over its products but by bringing on its talented employees to continue the journey together. Dennis and his fellow experts will continue to complete the Bonanza products under FLYR wings.
At the Aerospace Innovation Hub@TUDelft, we were filled with joy when we heard about the acquisition of Bonanza.aero by FLYR Labs. What started as an idea from one of the faculty’s students, turned into a very successful business venture. It is a great example of the entrepreneurial journey we want to facilitate within our community of aerospace innovators. We are thrilled to have contributed to this success story and to have accelerated the growth of Bonanza.
We are sad to see the team leave their office in Delft. However, this presents opportunity for new ideas to be born and to be supported by our ever-growing network. We cannot wait to see what new ideas will fill the offices!
We wish FLYR Labs the best of luck with their future endeavours, now strengthened by the bright minds of Bonanza.aero!