Par

 

Par is a peer-to-peer marketplace for users to buy and sell airline miles and instantly book flights. 

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PHOTOS: Jena Cumbo

An excerpt from an interview with Founder Kofi Ampadu.

How did you come across your app idea?

Being a management consultant gave me my “aha!” moment for my app. I accrued a lot of travel awards when I was traveling so whenever I was going anywhere with friends, Coachella or anything else, someone would say, “can I buy some of your miles?” It was always something in the back of my mind that I wanted to pursue. So I decided to just go for it.

There's a bit of a grey area around selling it and people get nervous when I tell them the idea. It’s not illegal because you own it, it’s currency. And one of the things many people don’t know about airline miles is that airlines can decide tomorrow your miles aren’t worth anything. So why keep them if you’re not going to use them? Each year we have 40 million reward miles that go unused. So I'm trying to create a marketplace that will bring frequent flyers like myself, with folks that are looking for cheap tickets. 

What were you doing before Par? On a typical week, how much time would you say you put towards the app?

I was a strategy consultant and created strategic roadmaps for our clients to follow and they saw their stocks were rising from implementing some of the strategies. I didn’t enjoy that line of work but went into it for a specific reason. I knew after Business School that consulting was going to be fast paced in a learning environment. So I went in there wanting to do it for a couple years and I didn’t think it was sustainable to be traveling all the time and working 14-18 hour days. I’m still working 14-18 hour days but now I’m working on something I love. It keeps me up and sometimes I can’t go to sleep because my wheels are churning. I sleep with a notebook beside me because I want to write things down. So I’m still doing the same amount of work but my feeling towards it is different. I don’t get hives now with work.

What is your idea of success for app? At what point will you say, “Yeah, we did it!”

This is grandiose but I want Par to be used in everyday language. Similar to how you say you “Uber” here, I want people to say did you “Par” that trip. I want it to be embedded in everyday culture. I think that’s when you know you made it, when your company could become a part of speech. I think that’s when I’m going to realize that I’m successful.

In the short term, that I am able to pay myself and take some kind of salary instead of sweat equity.

What apps are you currently using?

I love Twitter – it’s a crime that Twitter is free. Twitter is one of the few social media platforms where I don’t follow friends, I only follow content that I’m interested in. Tristan Walker, Washington Journal, being able to get the news and be in tuned. I was never big into social media until I discovered Twitter.

 

- Interviewed by Z.T., ROKO Labs.