Safir Monroe, CEO at UnDelay
Safir graduated from Howard University in Mechanical Engineering. He worked for Delta Air Lines for several years.
Connect with Safir on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Flight delays
- Airline industry
- Airport industry
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio brought to you by on pay Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:24] Lee Kantor here, another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Safir Monroe with UnDelay. Welcome, Safir.
Safir Monroe: [00:00:43] Hey, thank you. Thank you for talking to me. And I want to say hi to everybody is listening.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:48] Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about Underlay. How are you serving folks?
Safir Monroe: [00:00:54] Oh, definitely. So we reduce flight delays and improve ground efficiencies by converting a lot of radio transmissions into text to identify different maintenance issues, growing operations, problems by disruptions, and maybe some mechanical issues and a lot of runway congestion problems.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:14] So what was the genesis of the idea? How did you know this was a problem worth solving?
Safir Monroe: [00:01:21] I worked for Delta Airlines for several years, and then after I left, I just understood a lot of operations, definitely wanted to get back in the industry. So just with my background in mechanical engineering and software engineering, I definitely wanted to tag the problem. I worked at Delta as a web developer on dotcom, so I understood a lot of the ins and outs of the entire system of technologies in aviation.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:42] Now, is this a product that’s sold to the airline individually? Is it sold to the airport? Who who benefits the most from this? And who is the, you know, economic buyer of it?
Safir Monroe: [00:01:56] So we’re focusing on medium sized and smaller airports right now. So within a lot of problems at airports, I’m sure you’ve been stuck in the airport before. And later in that night, the concessions start closing. But the flight is delayed two or 3 hours. Everybody’s just wondering where can they get food or something to drink? So we definitely want to service airports first to extend a lot of their concession hours to improve overall revenue at airports. And with that, with advanced flight data statistics like voice recognition and a lot of other places, information and flight stats, we combine those to kind of give the airport more understanding of when to close concessions to increase concession revenue at airports.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:35] So I didn’t realize that the concessions were that tied into the kind of the flight. So they know when the last flight of the day is. So they know when to call, you know, call it and send their people home.
Safir Monroe: [00:02:49] Yeah, definitely. So a lot of you see a lot of airports like their schedule, some schedules, you know, and about their local time. But some are scheduled to close at the last departure of the day. But, you know, as we all know, there are so many different changes within different flight plans. And what was at one delay could, you know, disseminate over the entire airport network. So to cause multiple ripple delays. So with that, there’s so many different changing factors. So we give a lot of statistics to show what these change, in fact, is. We can update those flight plans more efficiently, efficiently, efficiently, and then give that information to different airport vendors.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:27] So how has it done now? How do they know, you know, what’s going on right now? How you know.
Safir Monroe: [00:03:34] Representative, they currently refresh their statistics over and over again so they might get the schedule for the day, but to really understand what was going to happen during the end of the day. Right. Because, you know, there’s a lot of changes. They just they just look at the flight change changes and different flight feels like you could you could search online like real time data, whatever carrier that you have, you’ll see the actual delay. But with that, they want to know like, okay, we’re out of the plane. Like just more information on because what they have right now is not enough to make the decision of if they should stay late longer. So with that, we want to give them more data to make that decision more efficiently.
Lee Kantor: [00:04:18] So how many airports are there like you’re are you talking about like airports the size of Hartsfield or are these the smaller ones like DeKalb or, you know, Charlie Brown?
Safir Monroe: [00:04:31] One more like the ones that for small cities like, you know, Tulsa right now, definitely areas like Alabama, Huntsville, Mobile, you know, Birmingham City, cities like that. Well, that’s where we’re targeting maybe around 20 or 30 gates, you know, 15 or ten gates. Just a good amount of operations that we can detect around and we could increase the revenue for. So Tulsa, Tulsa Airport, they made about $32 million of revenue and $10 million of that were through concessions. And then with that, we want to increase the revenue by $1,000,000. So with that, we want to get just whatever concessions that are made of money. We believe we can increase that revenue. So whatever how many operations the airport has and they have positions and they have enough flight operations to have this type of problem. It was an airport to go target. And there’s 17,000 airports in worldwide, but there are 5000 in America and about a couple hundred that we’re targeting right now in terms of like the medium, small size market. But as we go forward, we want to integrate with all different types of airports. But.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:39] So now your solution would send a text to like, you know, the the hamburger shop and saying, hey, this last flight is going to get in at 11 and not ten. So you may want to keep your people another hour.
Safir Monroe: [00:05:55] Yeah, definitely. So we right now, we, we have a dashboard that just address all the data and make it to make that final decision. But we’re working with a company called Volt, which is text based system to where we can see that text like notification to different airport vendors to have that final output of saying, okay, this flight is going to be delayed an extra hour because we understand where the plane is, where the different planes are in the ground and the operations that are taking place or the voice that they want to send as an engineer, a pushback issue here or operational failure here. So with all those statistics, we push out that final text to airport managers and managers.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:34] Now, have you tested this as is this operational somewhere in an airport somewhere, or is this kind of an idea at this point?
Safir Monroe: [00:06:43] What they’ve said on stage is a lot of airports were just identified. Different rooms replace our technology as well. As, you know, we’re setting up the systems and talking to a lot of officials. It gets a lot it needs a lot of pool for different airports. But we’re in advanced stages of talking to multiple different airports.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:00] So you don’t have it beta tested in the real world yet.
Safir Monroe: [00:07:05] Yeah. No, we don’t have a complete pilot project, but just from talking to different CEOs, CEOs and executives and also TSA agents and managers at the airport and I we just show them the business rules of what our data could do and then a real time feed. So we can take a lot of remote real time fees as well. So we just show them. And also like with being a certain cities, I can detect a lot of places as well. Then with that combined data, we just show them how this will have a final output. But let’s say if they want a lot more data or like a lot more outputs or a lot more predictions, we just get receivers. So in terms of like the business rules of what we can accomplish, that’s already done. So they’ve they’ve tested that at the point we’re just looking at the dashboard or via API.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:51] So you have it kind of conceptually agreed upon that this will solve a problem and it just hasn’t been all the way followed through into an actual airport where they’re getting the text and they’re actually seeing the actual. What happens when you have this information? Are people really going to say, okay, stay another hour or two because there could be, you know, 50 people coming in.
Safir Monroe: [00:08:13] Yeah. Yeah, exactly, exactly. So we we have perception and built out. But in terms of everyday testing, not not yet. I’m just a lot of airport like, you know, sometimes there’s a lot of process within the airport.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:25] Right? There’s a lot of bureaucracy, I’m sure, to get this approved. It’s not the easiest thing. Now, how did you you know, you have an idea and then you go through all these steps and the politics and the bureaucracy is a nightmare just by itself. So did you do this on your own or you have a co founder that is a technologist or like like how is the kind of the responsibilities divided up? Because just contacting the airports is a that’s a job by itself and then building an app or a software program or however you’re going to do it, that’s another challenge.
Safir Monroe: [00:09:02] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. So for me, the team is comprised of all five people on me. I’m the CEO co-founder, so my background in software engineering as well as hardware. So I started the solution early stages and now we have a CTO, the software engineer from Georgia Tech co-founder Rob, and he’s served the aviation industry for about 30 years. He’s worked he’s held leadership roles for over 40 airlines worldwide. So it’s a very extensive knowledge and background in aviation. The aviation space as well as a Daniel Cable has actually been in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech and Brendan O’Keefe, which is just got on the team, he’s the head of operations. So with our team we have engineers was people in the aviation space that really just all came together to really solve this problem to the airports that we’ve got now. We’ve been the accelerators. So with that ACT accelerator sponsored by Italy and a lot of other foundations like Bolt and Tulsa, we’re working with them to advance operations in the Tulsa Airport as well as the Bronze Valley Accelerator. We’re working with the Alabama airports because Bronzeville is based in Alabama.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:13] Now, are you bootstrapping this? Are you bootstrapping this or you have investors at this point?
Safir Monroe: [00:10:18] All we do is we raise up to roughly a $200,000 a day to grow this technology. One of our investors very in Atlanta is Chris Claus. So he’s in our security and really believes in our product and helping invest in our company. We actually invested in a company.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:36] So with him behind you, that gives you a nice jumping off point to get this thing done.
Safir Monroe: [00:10:42] Yeah. Yeah, huge. Right. Because just, you know, the technology behind it is so vast and complicated and there’s so many layers to it to where, you know, you need a lot of investments to cover. A lot of the airports, give a lot of push out a lot of data. It’s a very complex structure. So with that, that’s why we are raising we have raised a lot and we still are raising to just to feed a lot of and cover a lot of these products from the hardware and software side.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:08] Now, what do you need more of? How can we help?
Safir Monroe: [00:11:13] But that’s the outreach. I mean, you know, if you know, any medium or small airports, you know, that can utilize technology, we have a lot on our map. But, you know, we definitely like to just talk to as much Air Force as possible. We’ll be going to Ireland and next month for the Future Travel Experience Expo. So they like, you know European airports want to talk to us. We’ll be there pitching as well as just any airports within that Georgia region, you know, or like Florida or South Carolina. You know, we would love to have those conversations with the smaller airports now.
Lee Kantor: [00:11:47] If somebody wants to learn more about Underlay, where should they go? What’s website?
Safir Monroe: [00:11:53] But definitely so. The website is Underlay App.com. So you and Delaware. App.com. So check it out. And also you can contact us at contact at App.com. So feel free to send us an email. A lead to an airport or if you just want to understand more about it, feel free to contact us and we’ll definitely explain what we do in more detail.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:15] Now, are you looking for more talent or are you good from a talent standpoint?
Safir Monroe: [00:12:21] It sounds like we are good right now. We’re really focused on just raising raising money. So we’ll talk later how Tampa really, really focused on like pilots and just getting more airports on board customers. Right. But really, from a customer perspective, we really want to scale in that direction. But also we are raising money as well. But after like, you know, get more airports and raise more money, we definitely look at the time because you need more people to grow the company. But that’s probably the third stage of things we’re looking for.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:53] Good stuff. Well, congratulations on all the success. One more time. The website is underlay. App.com. Unadilla. Why app.com?
Safir Monroe: [00:13:04] Yep. Yep. That’s the website under the ABC.com.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:07] All right. Well, Sophia, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Safir Monroe: [00:13:13] Thank you, man. I appreciate it. And I really I’m glad that you had you on the call today.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:17] You got it. All right. This Lee Kantor will see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
About Our Sponsor
OnPay’s payroll services and HR software give you more time to focus on what’s most important. Rated “Excellent” by PC Magazine, we make it easy to pay employees fast, we automate all payroll taxes, and we even keep all your HR and benefits organized and compliant.
Our award-winning customer service includes an accuracy guarantee, deep integrations with popular accounting software, and we’ll even enter all your employee information for you — whether you have five employees or 500. Take a closer look to see all the ways we can save you time and money in the back office.