I went to The McIntire School, University of Virginia's undergraduate business school. Then I spent a year on Wall Street and hated it. So at 25, I went to Prague and started a company building banking portals and customer-facing Web sites for big companies in central Europe. I ran it for five years. Then, to recover, I spent a year on Kohtao, an island in Thailand, learning to scuba dive.
I came back to Charlottesville because of The Batten Institute. There's access to some of the brightest minds in entrepreneurship at Batten.
My cofounder, Charles Seilheimer and I started Hotelicopter in the Batten Business Incubator. Because I'd lived in Prague, people used to ask me for hotel recommendations all the time. And finally I realized that there was a lack of high-quality information online. So we decided to combine good information with trusted recommendations from friends on Facebook.
Batten gave us some money -- about $20,000 -- and we had some of our own. We won the University of Virginia Business Plan competition.
Starting a business is hard, so you don't want to have unnecessary obstacles in your way. And you don't want to be stressing out about paying the rent. This is a nice, laid-back town with access to money and brainpower. -Elaine Appleton Grant
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