Posted on Monday, Jan 2nd 2017
Uber has become the poster child of the sharing economy. But according to VBProfiles, the sharing economy has received $15 billion in funding, giving rise to several unicorns. Private jet booking app JetSmarter is the latest to fly into the Billion Dollar Unicorn Club.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based JetSmarter was founded in 2012 by Sergey Petrossov. It was originally launched in 2013 as a booking platform to serve the niche market of wealthy jet-setters. Today, it wants to make commuting by private jet affordable for all travelers.
JetSmarter buys empty seats from private-jet operators and sells them through its app. These could be scheduled shuttle flights on major routes or empty-leg trips, in which planes are flown empty from one airport to another for their next passenger flight.
The 250-employee company offers an annual membership program at $11,000 for access to the 35,000 hours of private flights that JetSmarter has pre-purchased. Similar to airlines, members can opt for spontaneous last-minute, one-way flights called JetDeals that are about 70% less than regular charter prices. They can also opt for frequent, shared, scheduled flights between major cities called JetShuttle. Currently, the majority of the JetShuttle flights range from 1.5 to 3 hours.
The app allows members to choose from over 3,000 airplanes ranging from propeller planes to Boeing business jets and book a flight. It offers about 50 routes across the world. For around $2,000 per seat, it also helps in booking private jet flights that aren’t on its schedule of shuttles. Its annual fee has grown over the years and it charges a one-time initiation fee of $4,000 to lock in the annual fee.
JetSmarter does not disclose its revenues but it was reported to be expecting revenue of $25 million to $30 million in 2014 when it had over 200,000 active users. It has 6,700 members who pay $11,000 a year in annual membership fees.
It has raised $157.3 million from investors including KZ Capital, Noor Capital Holding, Saudi Royal Family, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Wayne Chang, and XOJET. In December 2016, it raised $105 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion.
Over the past year, JetSmarter has expanded its JetShuttle flights across the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, in New York, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Atlanta, London, Paris, Moscow, Dubai, and Milan. It plans to use the funds to expand further into India, China and South America. It also plans to add a lower-cost option for short travel between, cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco or New York and Washington, for as little as $1 per mile, primarily on propeller planes. It also aims to offer more concierge services like hotel, restaurant and event bookings.
JetSmarter is not the first startup to offer jet sharing services. Another Jay Z-backed startup called Blackjet had shut down operations due to lack of funds, but has now resumed operations. Victor, another private jet charter startup, has raised $24.45 million in funding. It also faces competition from jet-booking startups Rise Air, JetSuite, and Surf Air.
More investigation and analysis of Unicorn companies can be found in my latest Entrepreneur Journeys book, Billion Dollar Unicorns. The term Unicorn was coined in a TechCrunch article by Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures.
Photo credit: roxa/Flickr.com.
This segment is a part in the series : Billion Dollar Unicorns
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