by Stacy Cowley | The New York Times
After three years of planning and design work, XTI Aircraft, a start-up in Englewood, Colo., developing an experimental jet, was poised to finally leave the runway. The company had lined up its executive team, received its first patent and begun a crowdfunding campaign for its next stage of development work.
Jeff Pino, XTI’s vice chairman and intended chief executive, held a Reddit chat for potential investors and spoke enthusiastically about the venture’s potential. “How often do any of us get a chance to be part of something truly revolutionary?” he wrote.
“We have the technical solution, the team, and plan to get this done,” he said.
Eight days later, Mr. Pino died in a plane crash.
The vintage fighter plane he was flying at the time was not made by XTI, which is still years away from having a functioning prototype, but his death in February was a cataclysm for the fledgling company. It raised an issue small businesses are rarely prepared to face: What happens when a founder or key executive unexpectedly dies?