Travel notes


Zionsville Community High School grad starts tech company

By Dawn Pearson

Growing up in Zionsville instilled hard work and business acumen for hometown entrepreneur Hudson Chilton. Now, the 2007 Zionsville Community High School graduate is the founder and CEO of Travel Notes, a year-old company that has already caught the attention of a prominent business accelerator and the banking industry.

Travel Notes automatically notifies banks when cardholders are traveling outside of their normal geographic area. This saves cardholders the embarrassment and hassle of having a card declined and reduces operating costs for banks on the back end.

“Our customers are banks, so we are having conversations with them about how Travel Notes can help them save money and improve their relationships with their cardholders,” Chilton said. “Most people don’t think about the significant cost impact that the travel process has on the financial industry. We are building a company that will help the industry save literally over $100 million per year.”

Chilton expects the first banks to begin offering the service this summer. The company is in partnership discussions with major credit card processing companies, which will give them access to sell to thousands of banks.

“This is very exciting because these partnerships represent a very significant revenue opportunity for Travel Notes,” he said.

Grassroots interest is also key in growing the brand, Chilton added.

“People can express interest in Travel Notes on our website, which helps us start conversations with tons of banks,” he said.

The value of hard work

Although Chilton is now based out of Covington, Ky., he said his hometown roots in Zionsville helped him find success.

“First and foremost, Zionsville taught me the value of hard work,” Chilton said. “We moved to Zionsville when I was still in elementary school and quickly became part of the wonderful community. We were surrounded by people that built their careers by taking risks and building companies from the ground up.”

So Chilton mirrored what he saw in Zionsville, working hard to become a 2011 valedictorian candidate at Xavier University and taking every opportunity to learn and excel in his first post-graduation job with Fifth Third Bank. It was at the bank Chilton first noticed how frequently cardholder’s undisclosed travel plans caused a headache for the traveler and financial institution.

“I identified a significant issue that was facing the financial industry and believed that a business could be formed around solving this problem,” Chilton said.

This led to the birth of Travel Notes. Although the company is still in its infancy, it quickly received a boost when it was accepted into the UpTech accelerator program, which provided $50,000 in seed funding and a network of mentors. Travel Notes was just one of seven companies to be accepted into the accelerator from about 100 that applied in 2014.

“Hudson had experience in the industry and intimate knowledge of the problem he was trying to solve,” said Amanda Greenwell, UpTech program director. “When looking for our ‘big ideas’ we are seeking solutions that attempt to remedy a real-world pain. Credit cards being declined while traveling has happened to many of us and Travel Notes has a solution.”

Continued growth

As Chilton’s business continues to grow, so does his family. He married Hope Park, also a 2007 ZCHS graduate, and they welcomed their first child this month.

Chilton makes a point to return to Zionsville several times a year, but for now he believes he is in the right location to grow his business.

“We have an awesome office at the UpTech that we share with about eight other startups from the Cincinnati area. It’s a very collaborate space, definitely a startup atmosphere,” he said. “We are right across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, so we have instant access to every resource that we need to grow our business.”

Greenwell sees nothing but continued success in store for Travel Notes.

“Hudson has demonstrated his ability to make connections and open doors with potential partners,” she said. “He is well on his way to developing a beta product based on the customer feedback he has received. His beta will allow him to further validate his solution and secure the funding and partnerships he needs to make his big idea a reality.”

How Travel Notes works

When booking an airline flight, Travel Notes automatically notifies participating banks of the cardholder’s travel plans.

“You don’t have to mess with filling out an online form with your bank regarding your upcoming travel, or spend 10 minutes navigating your banks’ annoying call tree so you can tell someone you are traveling,” Chilton said. “If Travel Notes has a partnership with your bank, we take care of everything for you.”

Learn more at

Meet Hudson Chilton

Favorite movie: “‘The Town’- ironically about robbing banks … but I love Ben Affleck, so oh well.”

Favorite music: “I’m a Hoosier, so anything country.”

Hobbies: “I love boating, biking and skiing.”

Family: “My parents are still in Zionsville and enjoying retirement. My older brother, Harrison, is finishing up an MBA at Stanford University in California and is moving to Boston this summer.” Wife, Hope, and one child.

How often do you get back to Zionsville: “We get back a decent amount since we only live about two hours away. I would say every two months or so.”

Favorite Zionsville memory: “Friday night football games and the many ‘unnamed antics that took place afterward.’”