JetSmarter, a smartphone app for private jet charter, or the Uber for private jets, was launched in 2012 by entrepreneur Sergey Petrossov. After we heard Petrossov is in his twenties and has made it into the 2016 Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in consumer tech, we got in touch to find out more.
You’re in your twenties and the CEO of an exciting and disruptive start-up that’s doing well. What’s your secret?
Never stop, and outwork your competition. If you set high-level goals, never stop believing in them.
All the best start-up success stories begin with necessity being the mother of invention — an entrepreneur finds themselves in a situation where a product or service was needed. What’s your story behind JetSmarter?
My background is in tech start-ups, and in 2009 I began flying private after selling my first IT company and quickly came to realise the private jet industry was archaic; its brick-and-mortar process of picking up the phone, waiting hours and speaking to numerous different people in order to charter a plane was outdated as well as inconvenient.
During the initial stages of planning and building the company, did you ever think
it was a bad idea and almost give up?
Starting out, I was unsure of how we could infiltrate our target market and how accessible we could make this service. In 2012, I spoke to the carriers I’d established relationships with and discussed how large an impact an app to charter a private plane would have on the industry. In August 2012, I made it a reality and created the beta version of JetSmarter, sharing with an exclusive group of industry experts and frequent private jet users. In March 2013, JetSmarter was launched globally.
How many people have downloaded JetSmarter (across platforms) and how many have used it to book trips?
We’ve seen significant growth since the launch in March 2013, at 15-20 per cent each month. To date, JetSmarter has had 350,000 plus downloads, so we expect that growth to continue exponentially. Our typical user is anyone from entrepreneurs growing their business to real estate brokers travelling from city to city or country to country making deals, so it’s a fair mix of members travelling for pleasure and work. Within the app, JetSmarter’s full range of services is available in three categories: JetCharter, JetDeals and JetShuttle, allowing users to quickly and easily find a flight that best suits their needs.
Your logo is way too cool. Did you have a hand in designing this? How important is the right logo for a start-up?
Yes, we do all our creative work in-house. I would say the right product, marketing and team are more important than the logo, but brand identity becomes more important as you scale greater.
How did it feel when you got the news of over $20 million (Dh73 million) in additional funding last year? What are your plans for future growth?
We’re all extremely happy with the outcome of the funding. We plan to continue our global expansion and are currently focusing on expanding in the countries where there is enough supply to satisfy demand. We are continuing to partner with carriers across the globe to offer users more inventory daily.
Could you share any stats on your business in the UAE? In terms of downloads, members, bookings in and out of Dubai, etc.?
We have around 1,200 users in the UAE.
If you had to give young(er) potential entrepreneurs advice, what sectors would you tell them to focus on?
This depends on their personality, but in general I would always look for up-and-coming sectors, and then find a niche based on personality and skill.
Besides JetSmarter, what other projects are you working on?
This is it. JetSmarter is my professional life.