Stratajet search, compare and book from the largest choice of private jets available for charter at the best prices, instantly
Please introduce yourself and your startup Stratajet to our readers!
I’m Jonny Nicol, Founder of Stratajet. After a stint in the military I became a corporate freelance pilot, which included flying private jets. I came to realise that the industry was rife with inefficiencies so I set about trying to come up with a solution. I founded Stratajet, which is a private jet booking service that allows the mainstream traveller access to private jets, making it easier than ever before to get from A to B.
Stratajet brings private jets direct to customers’ fingertips, allowing you to search for and compare the largest range of aircraft for charter instantly and book them with a mere click of a button. Available via Stratajet.com or our app, the platform also shows the exact prices for your trip so you won’t be stung with any additional late charges.
How did you get the idea to Stratajet?
During my time as a freelance pilot, there was a particular mission that involved flying an ‘empty leg’ [an aircraft that needs to be positioned without carrying passengers] from Nice back to London. There is a huge amount of wastage like this across the industry and it struck me that if it were possible to make empty flights more easily available to commercial passengers, we could open up the industry to a wider audience of fliers.
The concept of Stratajet was born and I put my computer science knowledge to work. I set about building a piece of software that would streamline the booking process and bring private jets online for the first time, in the process reducing the industry’s inefficiency and wastage.
How difficult was the start and what challenges you had to overcome?
Although private aviation is designed for efficiency – getting from A to B as quickly as possible – the bespoke nature of the industry brings with it the problem of having to calculate the cost of every single flight request from scratch. There are a staggering number of factors that need to be considered when calculating the cost of a private jet flight and there’s never been a search engine intelligent enough to filter through all of these.
So, getting the technology to work was the biggest hurdle. It took us two years to programme a piece of software that can make upwards of 2.5million calculations when returning flight results. But the first time we ran a search it took around 20 minutes to produce the final prices, so the next stage of the technology build consisted of getting this down to a consumer-friendly time. Eventually we had an idea that brought the search time down to around 12 seconds and I can’t describe how incredible and emotional that moment was for my team and myself.
Who is your target audience?
That’s a very interesting question because the perception of private jet travel is one of a luxury toy for the rich and famous but our vision is to give everyone who wishes to fly by private jet the opportunity to do so. Typically private jets have been employed by CEOs and celebrities but our technology is allowing for a wider audience of travellers to benefits from the perks of private jet travel. Bookings are a mix of business and leisure, the 18-26 year old age bracket is the fastest growing and we estimate that around 30-40% of our bookings are families travelling with children.
What is the USP of your startup?
Other providers have different models but they are still based on the principle of a broker organising your flight requirements for you. Even platforms that claim to provide an online service don’t actually do what they say ‘on the tin’. Rather their websites collect flight requests and these are then pushed out to operators, who have to manually calculate the costs. Once quotes are delivered, you then have to finalise the booking with your broker. It’s a terribly long-winded, convoluted and inefficient process and, due to commissions taken by the broker, unnecessarily pricey.
In contrast, Stratajet is the only platform that has built, from scratch, it’s own technology that can make these calculations, meaning that aircraft are right at fliers’ fingertips. It also has no hidden fees or membership costs.
Can you describe a typical workday of you?
I have an antique desk at home, so I like to enjoy a coffee in the morning and do a couple of hours work in relative peace and quiet. I’m still very hands on with the technological side of the business and there is always coding and programming to be done which requires a high level of concentration.
I usually head into the office around mid-morning and try to be as approachable as possible. My role involves a lot of problem-solving but being presented with issues and working through them to find the solutions is the rewarding part of growing a business.
Otherwise there are times when I’m travelling for long periods of time. We have a relationship with every single aircraft operator on our platform and are continuing to meet with other parties to expand our network.
Where do you see yourself and your startup Stratajet in five years?
Our dream is to make private aviation available to the mainstream traveller and we’re already opening up the industry. 32% of our customer base are first-time private jet fliers, which is a staggering statistic when compared to the industry average of less than one per cent. It shows just how much the industry has been struggling to attract new customers.
As more and more people use Stratajet, we believe there will be a watershed moment in the industry – private aviation ‘before Stratajet’ and private aviation ‘after Stratajet’. It’s a total game-changer.
What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?
1. Choose your people very carefully – it takes a second to hire someone but you can be left with a mistake that can affect the company for a long time. Conversely, I have hired some brilliant people and everyone has fed off each other, particularly in the more challenging times.
2. Choose your investors carefully – investment isn’t ‘just for Christmas’. Never take an investor who you don’t think is aligned with your vision. Some investors might get involved with a company because they can see a different vision for that company.
3. Always make sure that wherever you work, you love it. As a start-up you will spend more waking hours in your office – and more hours full-stop for that matter – than anywhere else. So make sure that your work environment is perfect. Do what you love and do it in a place where you love it.
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Thank you Jonny Nicol for the Interview
Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.