JetSmarter, a private jet startup backed by investors including rapper and entrepreneur Jay Z, plans to expand its aviation service in the coming months.
Backed by $55 million in investor funding, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based startup plans to allow its users and members to book on-demand and scheduled flights on private jets between New York City and Boston, Miami, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. It currently offers more than 20 routes including London to Geneva, Paris to Nice, Kuwait to Dubai, New York to Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale to Los Angeles.
'We want to be everywhere,' said JetSmarter's founder and CEO Sergey Petrossov in an interview. 'We want to be connecting every major metropolitan city in the country, and we have a very heavy East Coast presence already and a lot of members in the Boston area.'
While Petrossov didn't have an exact date for when the planned expansions from New York to the other cities, was taking place, he said it would happen sometime before the summer.
JetSmarter, which also offers a mobile app, charges its members an annual fee of $9,000 to get a certain number of seats on scheduled flights, but users that are not members can also use the service to book on-demand private jet flights. Users can also choose to rent the entire jet or share seats with others.
The company says it's the largest provider of scheduled flights on airplanes with under 19 seats.
While Petrossov, 27, wouldn't disclose specifics on user numbers, he said the company's mobile app has been downloaded 'well north' of 350,000 times.
etSmarter is one of a few companies trying to disrupt private aviation travel. Others include New York-based Wheels Up and offers a membership model that aims to reduce the cost of flying privately. That company is backed by more than $100 million in investor funding.
While JetSmarter wouldn't disclose revenue numbers, Petrossov said the company is operating on a 'very healthy' gross margin and will be investing in capital expenditures for the next few years in order to expand its service nationally and internationally. The company is launching between three and five new routes every month.
'We're investing all our earnings back into the infrastructure and back into the business,' he said.
Jay Z, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, is a Brooklyn native. He, as well as the Saudi Royal Family, are among JetSmarter's investors.
JetSmarter has access to more than 3,000 private jets (brands include Gulfstream, Challenger and Falcon), under 19 seats. The company is licensed by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to offer private aviation transportation, Petrossov said.
Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge was recently named to the board of JetSmarter. Ridge's involvement will reinforce its global safety and security infrastructure, according to the South Florida Business Journal.
Other aviation startups have fared less well than JetSmarter and Wheels Up because they have tried to operate under different business models. For example, Flytenow, a Northeastern University-born aviation startup that offered a website that connects private pilots with passengers willing to share a flight and split the cost of flying, had to cease operations after an FAA fight.