While buying someone a present is a nice gesture, more people today are looking for experiences over physical gifts to celebrate their birthdays or anniversaries. As such, this has brought on people taking more trips around the world.
In combination with new experiences and the instantaneous gratification of smart devices, there is one company that’s taking these concepts to new heights.
JetSmarter is a luxury private jet rental company that makes empty seats available via its app to anyone looking to quickly jet set to their next destination. Members can go to JetSmarter’s app and instantly find a private jet nearby to fly on. We sat down with JetSmarter CEO and Founder Sergey Petrossov to learn more about the company and its plans for the future.
PYMNTS: In your own words, what is JetSmarter about?
SP: We strive to make the process of traveling fun again. Last year, TSA security caused many problems and delays for travelers across the U.S. With JetSmarter, our members can arrive 15 minutes before their flight and relax and enjoy their travel experience, whether it be for business or pleasure. In addition to this, JetSmarter’s goal is to make private jet travel accessible to the masses and more than just the privileged 1 percent.
PYMNTS: What’s the story behind how JetSmarter started?
SP: My background is in tech startups. In 2009, I began flying private and quickly came to realize that the private jet industry was very archaic. Its brick-and-mortar process of picking up the phone, waiting hours and speaking to numerous different people in order to charter a jet was outdated and inconvenient. In 2012, I spoke to the carriers I had established relationships with and discussed how large of an impact an app to charter a private plane would have on the industry. In Aug. 2012, I made the dream a reality and created the beta version of JetSmarter, sharing it with an exclusive group of industry experts and frequent private jet users. In March 2013, JetSmarter launched globally.
PYMNTS: How does the pricing model work, and how does JetSmarter get paid?
SP: Memberships are $15,000, and that gives members access to JetSmarter’s full range of services — JetShuttle, JetCharter and JetDeals. This allows members to quickly and easily find a flight that best suits their needs. The breakdown of each service is as follows:
JetShuttle: Shared private jet flights; members can search for and book a seat on an already scheduled route (available in top flights in the U.S., Europe and Middle East). All shuttle flights under three hours are free for members, and any long-haul flights start at around $450 per seat (i.e., New York to San Francisco).
JetCharter: Members can customize and create their own charter flights. Within this option, they can book an entire jet to themselves or create their own shuttle flight, which allows them to purchase individual seats on a jet (between shuttle cities). This flight is then opened up into the JetShuttle section of the app, therefore creating a shared flight that is available for other members.
JetDeals: Exclusive one-way flights on private jets, where members can book a flight to a new destination city daily.
PYMNTS: Who does JetSmarter see as its competition, if any, and why?
SP: JetSmarter does not have any competitors in the space. We are the only private jet company that operates by way of innovative app technology (i.e., all bookings are done through the app, without having to deal with a middleman).
PYMNTS: Since its inception, how much has JetSmarter grown year over year? Does it have any future projections for where it hopes to grow within the next few years?
SP: Since inception, we’ve made such a name for ourselves in the private aviation industry that over 800 air carriers have chosen to partner with JetSmarter, and the app has seen over 1 million downloads. We offer around 4,000+ flights to members each month. The app has 50+ JetShuttle routes, and through the latest series C funding raise, we plan to expand the current JetShuttle offerings significantly into new cities around the world, including plans to expand into Asia, India and Latin America. Eventually, we plan to connect the world all through one network via our JetShuttle service.
PYMNTS: How many rounds of funding has JetSmarter received (if any)?
SP: In Dec. 2016, JetSmarter announced its Series C funding of $105 million.
PYMNTS: As most startups have their fair share of hiccups, can you share a few lessons-learned anecdotes?
SP: This journey has been one of the most exciting of my life; however, a challenge we faced while in our beginning stages was that people didn’t believe that they could fly private at the entry level price they were buying into. Through our growth and success, people now understand that flying private is something attainable for them, and they are able to network with other like-minded people on our jets, make business deals and fly to places more often than before utilizing our JetShuttles.
PYMNTS: What are JetSmarter’s 2017 goals?
SP: Over the last 12 months, we’ve significantly expanded our private jet services, with a main focus on increasing our shared, scheduled flights, known as “JetShuttles,” across the United States, Europe and the Middle East, in cities including New York, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Atlanta, London, Paris, Moscow, Dubai, Milan and more. Our focus throughout 2017 will be expanding into Asia and South America, creating an entire JetSmarter network across the globe.