Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to 2010 when you launched the company. What did you launch with?
Ferren Rajput: When I came out, a friend of mine was looking at a car dealership. It was a Jeep dealership. He said, “You just do this until you get yourself back up on your feet.” I did that for a little while. I was able to talk to people at this private jet airport in Denver.
There were a couple of opportunities that were given to me. One was, I just needed a little office and presence at the airport just to feel I was part of the game of aviation. I did a few things between 2008 and 2010. I got a job. It was a membership program with Wyndham.
One of the first things I knew I needed to do was change or come with a new product within the private jet industry. You can buy your own plane. You can charter a plane. You can buy a fraction of a plane. This was when the market was hit really bad.
I wanted to establish a program where people could get into flying private without a large upfront cash infusion. A membership plan would allow for that. That’s what I put together between 2008 and 2010. Within just three to four months of me being with them, their Denver office shut down.
Then I ended up with a friend of mine who said, “I’ll give you an opportunity in selling software in the medical industry.” I was just trying to do whatever it takes to put food on the table. His company gave me the opportunity. After 10 months of dealing with them, their cash flow ran short. They couldn’t carry me any further.
From there, I went to a third friend of mine who was working with the car dealership. As I did that, I started to establish my relationships with the airport people. One of the presidents of a terminal here felt some good vibes with me. He said, “I’ll give you this tiny office. Come in here and do what you need.”
I bought a computer. I stepped into this little office. There was another associate of mine who was in the mortgage business and did very well when the mortgage business was hot. His business had crashed and he basically joined me and said, “Let’s go somewhere with this aviation idea. Let’s see where it goes.”
He put his faith in my idea. He was my first sales person. I didn’t have any money. He didn’t have any money. Every sale that we could do would carry on to the next one. That’s how we started.
I had my full-time job of selling cars and my part-time gig at the airport trying to sell this idea of memberships and private jets. Our first member tried us out. From there, it went to the next. We didn’t grow dramatically. All we did was dive for dollars and work really hard to get members.