John Hostetler caught the entrepreneurial bug by accident while attending the University of Michigan. It was a turn in life that led to him and his brother starting H Brothers in Ann Arbor.
The Hostetler brothers created MiSchedule mschedule.com in 2003 as part of a class project at the university. The class scheduling software was well-received but didn't make any money. During John's first job out of college, working for the Polish government in Krakow, he saw a gap in the market for online air travel and H Brothers was born.
"While traveling in Europe I noticed that many discount airlines flew routes much cheaper than found on traditional sites like Orbitz.com," John, due to an illness, wrote in an email. "In 2004 I started AirNinja.com with my brother. It helps users find discount airlines. This is particularly useful in developing countries with many upstart airlines. We maintain our own database whereas most travel sites use the data of companies like ITA Software."
H Brothers is now the holding company for AirNinja
, a mainstream travel site started in 2008 that grew popular because of the quizzes it offered, facilitating 400,000 monthly visitors and 5 million page views. The traffic for the two sites has roughly doubled in the last year.
"JetPunk been growing fairly rapidly now that users can create their own quiz," John wrote in an email. "This has created a viral effect."
H Brothers is based in the Tech Brewery
, although the Hostetler brothers do much of the work from their laptops in Ann Arbor and Seattle.
"I also work from the Tech Brewery because of the community aspect, the ability to have interaction, and meet people working on similar projects," John wrote in an email.
Source: John Hostetler, co-founder of H Brothers
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.