by Emily Grigely
When it comes to flying private, especially when flying for business purposes, most people want to get from point A to point B comfortably, quickly, and safely. That’s exactly what Jet It is all about. Jet It presents a brand new, unique business model to the private aviation industry. To learn more about it and how Jet It is making major strides both in the US and internationally, SBJ correspondent Emily Grigely spoke withJet It Co-Founder Glenn Gonzales. Check out how the conversation went below.
Emily Grigely: Tell me a little bit about how Jet It had come about?
Glenn Gonzales: My co-founder Vishal Hiremath and I were working at Honda Aircraft Company, before starting Jet It and JetClub, but we have been around aviation collectively for over 40 years, 22 or so for myself and 20 for Vishal. In our customer conversations at Honda our prospective customers would often voice their love for the HondaJet, but time and again they didn’t want to have to pay for the entire airplane. So we recognized there was a gap in the market that was completely underserved, and started to work to build a business model that was smartly time and cost efficient with a high level of touch. We landed on Jet It and JetClub, our sister company outside of the US.
Jet It was first, but we always started with the intention of expanding internationally. Over the last couple of years, as we launched Jet It here in the US, Vishal has been quietly building our efforts outside of the US. In fact, our first JetClub aircraft is on its way to Europe today – our for. We have also established JetClub in India and Singapore. Sales for Jet It Canada established in Quebec are underway and we expect to have our first Canadian aircraft in operation by the summer. Our initial vision of having Jet It and JetClub operations everywhere on every continent around the world, and providing the same level of service and experience to our customers and passengers globally is underway.
Emily Grigely: How can you make this so affordable for the everyday person?
Glenn Gonzales: There are a number of elements to the Jet It business model. The first deals with the fact that the market has been clamoring for a means of private aviation travel that gives them more autonomy, the efficiency, but it is still refined, practical, and cost-effective. At $1,600 per hour the Jet It model is unmatched. The second element is the HondaJet. The HondaJet is fast, quiet, remarkably spacious, and you can carry a ton of baggage. You get all of the amenities like a comfortable, quiet, well appointed and elegant cabin that the market desires with an easily justifiable expense. The final piece is the Jet It days-based business model. The Jet It business model allows you to have ownership in the aircraft and have a private flight department at your beckon and call. Safety is the baseline expectation, but for Jet It service is also paramount and our white-glove concierge service at no additional cost engages our customers where and how they live. These three elements along with our service create a very symbiotic relationship that make up Jet It and JetClub and the end result is an incredible experience for our passengers. It’s one thing to have safe transportation, but a high level of experience that keeps people happy will keep our company growing.
Emily Grigely: That’s incredible. Amidst the times I’d be remiss without bringing up the year 2020 and COVID-19. How has the past year brought you to the successes that you are having today?
Glenn Gonzales: 2020 was a challenge for all businesses. Fortunately in private aviation, the COVID environment has created an opportunity for the industry to expand. People have been looking for alternative means to travel so that they can keep themselves their family and business partners safe, while continuing to grow their business. What the pandemic has done for Jet It is increase the amount of awareness. 2019 was our first full calendar year and going into 2020, we were confident in our ability to spark more referrals of experience and additional introductions to fuel our growth. However with the pandemic the need to reduce the odds of becoming ill was a catalyst for an increase in customer awareness towards the private aviation market and people finding companies like ours. So, it was a great year for Jet It. We grew our fleet from four airplanes to 10, and we expect to double our fleet this year as more people have become aware and have had a chance to experience what we do.
Emily Grigely: What has your biggest challenge been throughout the last 18 months?
Glenn Gonzales: When the pandemic first began, our biggest challenge was adjusting our communication and the method and frequency of cleaning our aircraft. Safe travel gained a new meaning. Typically safety was a discussion around the quality and experience of our pilots or the redundancy and safety features of the HondaJet, but we had to adjust how we communicated with our customers to also include the health of our pilots, how they will wear masks at all times on duty, how we had company wide discussions about testing and responsibility outside of the workplace. We increased our discussion around our normal practice of cleaning the jets before and after every flight. We wanted our owners to know we were doing everything possible to ensure their safety. At Jet It our top two priorities are simple. Number one, operate safely. Number two, keep people happy. Increasing our communication around the COVID environment was the most important part covered both priorities.
Emily Grigely: You’ve attended Air Force Academy, you’ve gone through the rigor, you’ve served our country. Thank you so much for your service. How has your military background helped translate into your business success?
Glenn Gonzales: I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve defended the country and had an opportunity to deploy in defense of the United States. I’ve flown fighters, I’ve done some amazing things, firing missiles from aircraft, air refueling, and so much more. It’s been a great experience. There’ve been so many different lessons that I bring from my aviation background and experience. I think that some of the biggest things that I learned from it were how to plan a strategy and to make sure that you account for the threats that are known, the unknown threats, and the unknown unknowns. You have to build in contingencies for every single situation. In large part, Vishal and I were prepared for our continued expansion and growth because we accounted for the unknown, unknown which in this case was COVID-19. By planning for unexpected events, the changes to our business were minimal. In addition to strategy, the military taught me focused discipline and rapid but accurate decision-making. When you are flying a hyper-performance aircraft above the speed of sound while managing other aircraft evaluating weapons criteria, and an enemy that wants to see their next day and you are in the way, there is little to no time to make decisions. You have to be prepared beforehand with your planning and strategy. But when once you’re in a furball of friends and foes, when the fog and friction of war set in, your need for sound decisions is astronomically greater and staying true and disciplined to your plan, to your strategy, while making adjustments for the endless information received is the only way to respond appropriately. So the military was a great experience, and I am eternally thankful for it. To share those lessons learned with our team and to lead with a unique perspective my experience has been extremely helpful.
Emily Grigely: Where is your company based?
Glenn Gonzales: Our company headquarters is based in Greensboro, North Carolina. We of course have Jet It Canada is based in Quebec, Canada. JetClub run by my cofounder Vishal is established in Malta, Delhi and Singapore. In line with our original plan we are growing and expanding in multiple countries and continents. It provides our owners with even more value as they can enjoy a consistent experience anywhere in the world with Jet It and JetClub.
Emily Grigely: Who has been your inspiration to do what you are doing today?
Glenn Gonzales: There have been so many. I fully believe that there are mentors in every single person that we directly or indirectly interact with. Even walking down the street, there’s something you can learn from those around you. The obvious would be the Tuskegee Airman, but they are just some of the many military professionals and aviators that paved the way and inspired my path. There are other men and women of all different backgrounds and experiences that have contributed to Jet It. My very first HondaJet sale was to an individual who is an entrepreneur in Japan and earned his way onto the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. He’s just been a tremendous mentor and friend, and I’m so thankful for the many people like him who have invested their time and energy into me, our team and what Jet It has become.
Emily Grigely: What type of advice would you give small business owners through times of challenge, but also during times of success?
Glenn Gonzales: That’s a really tough question, Emily. There are so many things, but I would say in challenging times you have to rely upon the people that you asked to join you on your journey. You asked them to work alongside you for a reason because you need their expertise. My co-founder and I are a great example. We are yin and yang. He is wonderfully pragmatic and I am very much a dreamer. Sometimes my head is in the clouds and he grounds me of the challenges of our reality. So we balance one another out. As an entrepreneur when you face those challenging environments and situations, I think it’s critical that you understand who you are and the magnitude of your strengths and weaknesses. Only then can you properly evaluate a problem and appropriately respond by leaning on the strengths and weaknesses of your team.
Emily Grigely: What is something that you want people to understand about Jet It?
Glenn Gonzales: The main thing that people should understand about Jet It is that for only $1,600 per hour, you have a private jet and your own private flight department, ready to fly you from A to B at your desire. This level of experience at this value is unmatched anywhere in the world for private aviation We believe that we are the natural evolution of private transportation or just transportation in general. People want and need more autonomy, they need more efficiency to fully experience life, and with travel exquisite opulence is not always a requirement. We’d all love to have the most beautiful and best Gulfstream or Falcon jet. But if you just need to get out to meet with a customer or a supplier, then you need to get back home and you want to do it in a comfortable, safe, quiet, serene space at a justifiable value, the Jet It is the solution. what allows us to be on the leading edge of a paradigm shift in how people travel.
Emily Grigely: You’ve mentioned in a previous article that you’re storing up at 43,000 feet in the air. Is that an advantage?
Glenn Gonzales: Being at 43,000 is incredibly beautiful. It’s much more efficient because the airlines typically fly in the thirties because you get great speed there. However, when you’re behind or in line with a number of other aircraft, you have to fly their same routing because it helps air traffic control manage the traffic going towards the same location. At 43,000 feet, we’re above that traffic. So the opportunity to obtain more direct routings and save time because you cut out many of the doglegs and turns that eliminated with direct routing. In addition to that, at 43,000 feet, you’re above the clouds, weather, and turbulence. Typically even the biggest storms top out around 40,000 feet. So the ability to be in a comfortable, quiet space at 43,000 feet reduces the travel time, improves the experience, and is better for the environment because you are burning less fuel. For the passengers this means arriving at their destination relaxed, comfortable, and ready to go do business or have a great time.
Emily Grigely: If I may Glenn, when this journey with Jet It started a year and a half, two years ago, you became one of the few businesses selected for Harvard Business case studies. No matter where you go, everyone knows Harvard Business School. Can you talk about that process and what that means to Jet It?
Glenn Gonzales: Very simply the opportunity to have our company presented as a Harvard Business School case study has been surreal. We are truly honored by Harvard tenured professor, Mr. Gary Pisano who is globally recognized for evaluating how businesses become disruptors recognizing and delighting in the subtle intricacies of the Jet It business model. He raves about teaching it personally, but it has also been taught around the world. I have personally participated in several discussions graduate and undergraduate programs. In participating, what I believe people appreciate about the Jet It model is instead of sharing economies, we focus on a symbiotic economy in which a product leap in technology is merged with an innovative business model, and a market that is ready for it. The combination of each of these things that all us to drive Jet It to the next level, and aside from our profitable growth, the HBS case study is the highest form of validity we can ask for.
Emily Grigely: Do you have plans on speaking anywhere in the near future in regard to these case studies?
Glenn Gonzales: Yes, but it may be virtually. We’ll be presenting the Jet It case to the HBS MBA students on April 11th. If we can do that in person, we will, but as it stands right now, it’s scheduled online. It’s just been a great story and we’re excited to share what we’re doing at Jet It and JetClub. Maybe there’ll be a great case study about our wild growth and the advent of symbiotic economies supplanting sharing economies.