Redeye VC

Josh Kopelman

Managing Director of First Round Capital.

espite being coastally challenged (currently living in Philadelphia), Josh has been an active entrepreneur and investor in the Internet industry since its commercialization. In 1992, while he was a student at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Josh co-founded Infonautics Corporation – an Internet information company. In 1996, Infonautics went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange.

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Rome for a day?

Dividendmiles3linegbAs another year winds to a close, the end of December is a good time to take a look back at the past year, set goals for the new year, and try to predict what new trends will shape the emerging technology landscape.

For this Redeye VC, the end of December also is the time of year when I check my US Airways miles account.  As a coastally challenged VC, I make a lot of trips to the west coast -- typically between 15 and 20 trips a year -- and US Airways basically owns the Philadelphia airport.  Normally I don't have any problems getting the 100,000 flight miles needed to make Chairman's Preferred.  I've been Chairman's Preferred for the last four years and it has become critical to me -- it basically guarantees me a first class upgrade, it guarantees me a seat on any US Airways flight, etc. 

But during the year I tried something new -- rather than paying full fare for several of my trips to CA, I used miles to get five roundtrip tickets.  And when I opened up my online statement last week, I saw that I only had 86,500 Preferred miles.  I was 13,500 miles short! 

After calling US Airways, they confirmed that you can't buy preferred miles -- you only get them from flying.  So I spent some time on the web trying to figure out how I could get 13,500 miles in a week.  And there was only one non-stop option that would give me enough miles --  Fly to Rome.  If I flew First Class from Philadelphia to Rome, I would get 13,800 Preferred miles.  I would leave December 29th at 8pm -- arrive in Rome around 8am -- eat a pizza at the Rome airport -- leave around noon, and return home by 3pm on December 30th.   Faster than most of my trips to New York.

I spent most of the night trying to figure out how I was going to explain to my wife that I was going to spend $4K to fly to Rome for two hours during our holiday vacation...and didn't come up with a good answer.  That's when I discovered the "Everything Counts" promotion on the US Airways site.  Basically, a few merchants were giving Preferred Miles credits for all purchases through the end of the year.  And FTD.com (the online flower guys) had a special offer -- earn 20 miles for every dollar you spend.  That meant I just needed to spend $675 on flowers over a three day period - or about 20 orders of flowers.  Other than sending some to my wife/family, I didn't know who to send them too.  I thought of opening the obituary section of the paper and sending some to strangers.  Or to sending them to James Brown or Gerald Ford.  But it felt odd to me.

That's when I found the Champagne Holiday Toast -- "a bottle of the most renowned champagne in the world, Dom Perignon, paired with chocolates..."   At $179, I would only need to order four bottles -- and they would last a lot longer than flowers.  So I started to buy them online -- when I learned that they won't deliver alcohol to Pennsylvania.  Or New York.  Or Connecticut.  Or New Jersey.  Finally I decided to ship the champagne to our west coast office, care of Rob Hayes

So I now have four bottles of Dom waiting to celebrate our fund's next exit.  And I made Chairman's Preferred.  And I didn't have to go to Rome for lunch.  A good conclusion to a good year!

Happy 2007 Everyone!

Comments

Fortino

great post and happy new year!

Eric Jackson

The pizza's not that great at the Rome airport. Nice investigative work! Happy New Year.

jeremy liew

Josh,

I'd be happy to jump the gun and share some of the Dom on a financing since you will no doubt need help with four bottles! FWIW, here are my 6 2007 predictions; for details click through on the link

1. Ecommerce 2.0 arrives

2. Social Network widgets find a business model

3. Lead generation breaks into new categories

4. Social Networking finally becomes a feature

5. News of TV's death are greatly exaggerated

6. Software as a Service gets customer facing

Ale

Funny post!

if it happens you really want to visit Italy for more than just few hours, drop me a line!

Chris Bauman

Josh,
After having flown from Prague to the US several times this year, I too wanted to obtain a good status (I am with United, but still part of the same alliance). When I talked to my friend about it, he showed me a website dedicated to frequent flyers. www.flyertalk.com - you can find some of the most amazing frequent flyer gurus who can help anyone find out how to make their quota for the best price.
Also, check out www.farecompare.com, they tend to do good work too.

Oh, and I flew to LAX for breakfast from San Jose yesterday, to gain my last 800 miles needed for Premier Executive Status.

David S. Rose

Chris stole my comment [grin]. Flyertalk.com is truly proof that no matter how arcane a subject is, on the Internet you can absolutely find thousands of uber-experts who are delighted to share their knowledge. The site has the most extraordinarily detailed info on every question you raised: from how to shortcut into Chairman's Preferred, how to do a 'mileage run' at the end of the year, how to get the most preferred qualifying points, etc. And not only for US Air, but also for every other carrier (and credit card, and hotel, and car, and...) Defintely worth checking out, if only to see how much information there is that one never knew existed!

Happy New Year!

Jinal Shah

What a delightful post!

Martin

Use www.farecompare.com and never look back on trying to gain miles again :)

Eaken

Just stumbled on your blog. Pretty cool.

I'm always amazed at the number of uber successful people that have the time to sit down and figure this crap out. I do ok and I research things to death, but I always figured if I was worth a gazillion euros (i'm cashing in my dollars) i wouldn't have time to do these kinda things.

Either you don't sleep or I'm amazed. Although I can go on 3-4 hours of sleep, I must err on the side of reality and say I'm amazed.

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