It has been 6 years since a 24-year old Sergey Petrossov created JetSmarter – a private charter app which lets you book a charter plane at the touch of your screen. In these years, Sergey has been able to set up a billion dollar company with investments coming from all parts of the world.
JetSmarter, which aims to provide members with a seamless and convenient flying experience has recorded tremendous growth over a relatively short period of time. With an asset light approach, the company is known to be one of the fastest growing private jet company and have disrupted the industry.
Jay-z and the Saudi Royal family were early backers of the app when the company was making its initial climb in expansion and growth. In its Series C funding JetSmarter was able to raise massive amount of $ 1.5 billion. More investment poured in with newer investments including various equity funds and a private aviation company called JetEdge. The group then received institutional investment from Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. and include participation from Leucadia National Corporation and existing investors, the company stated in a press release last year on August.
But all of this wasn’t easy for a native of Russia to boy with a vision of disrupting a luxury niche. While most startups with great ideas have failed at investments, JetSmarter could probably one of the best examples for someone who is aspiring to get some pouring from the riches.
Balancing Active Investments with its Business Model
It is evident that JetSmarter targets the rich to travel on private jets. Unlike other hard tech startups JetSmarter had a fine blend of tech and luxury which appealed to the High Net Worth Individuals.
Every investor pitch that JetSmarter might have were more relatable, perhaps because they didn’t have to tell them much about the private travel industry, its loopholes and how it worked on the frontend. Also the asset light approach guaranteed investors of convertible debt or owner equity just like it had worked for other startups like Uber.
JetSmarter which themselves believe in creation of a community for their members participated in industry focused events was a great way to meet investors. Going to a lot of private trade shows and worked as advisor before founding JetSmarter helped Sergey meet the right people and build a solid network of investors as well as gain knowledge for his startup.
So much targeted was his idea of selling JetSmarter to the right people was, that when he released the beta version of the app in 2012, Petrossov and team demonstrated before private jet travelers - why it is an ideal way to make private travel in the modern era. Even today, JetSmarter claims that 90% of the company's investors used the service before investing in the company, suggesting that the company is built on the foundation of providing an exclusive experience.
The founder and CEO of JetSmarter who himself made making his first private jet travel at an age of 21 years, was quick to learn that people are always on the lookout for additional facilities with luxury travel. JetSmarter realized this in its early years and started added exclusive offerings like 8,000 luxury homes, and 24X7 helicopter services.
Continuing this, JetSmarter developed a community for the brand, which consisted of invitation-only events from the clouds to the ground, and even on water. The company started providing exclusive discounts to five-star resorts, priority reservations at world-renown restaurants, and much more to awe leaders in leaders in business. He made services for his investors look attractive and had a lot of material to offer to them for a membership of $15,000.
The idea of cost cutting on empty jets with the statistics available helped anchor confidence on a startup venture. In another interview with the CNBC, the JetSmarter founder had said "Our goal is to take massive market share against commercial airlines, specifically business and first class, especially for routes under five hours."
This suggested that strategically, the company was making parallel attempts to shift frequent Business Class travelers of commercial airlines to avail private charter services at a better deal.
While doubts will always be raised, JetSmarter has built a habit of going against the grain. The company had succeeded to dominate private jet travel in the United States, and is expanding into building stronger in Europe, South America and Asia, fueled by mega investments.