Meet the SHEROES - Kanika Tekriwal
For Today's Shero - The sky is the limit, quite literally. JetSetGo was founded by Kanika Tekriwal and is India's first ever online concept for private air travel. What gave rise to the idea of a private charter offering and what does Kanika hope to achieve with JetSetGo? Its interesting to hear the story behind these wings,
How did the inspiration of Jet Set Go come about? What are the key challenges you face in this niche market?
Thoughts that come to one’s mind when imagining flying in a private jet are probably mixed ranging from an uber luxury mode of travel to one available at the beck and call of only the rich or the ultra-rich. Think harder and one would imagine this as a means of travel that enhances agility and efficiency for corporates in an ever complex world. Not many would appreciate the important role it plays in connecting locations that are still not served or economical to do so by commercial airlines. I have been in the private aviation industry for close to a decade now saw the darker and more difficult side to the general aviation business in India. Issues ranged from:
1. Customer frustration dealing with charter brokers who provide limited choice or transparency and exploited price arbitrage opportunities based on customer needs.
2. Inefficient pricing models forcibly used by operators due to inadequate demand aggregation options dramatically increased the cost of flying private through minimum fixed rate payments or unutilized empty flying legs further pricing out the already small customer base. This compounded the problem of lower aircraft utilization rates and on average increasing the aircraft specific fixed costs recovery within the hourly charter cost to excess of 60%.
3. Inadequate or sub-standard level of ground infrastructure and quality of service further compromising the customer experience.
4. Weak supply chain for services and parts especially for legacy aircraft owners increasing operating costs and scheduling down-time.
5. Cumbersome trip planning and approval processes of various government and other bodies.
While some of these issues are prevalent in most markets; with a combination of all together it doesn’t take long to understand why the general aviation (GA) industry in India is still underdeveloped to global developed peers with GA movements at just about 15% of total movements in the country.
Who is your Target audience and do the services at JetSetGo find a lot of takers for present India?
Our target audience consists of corporate houses, high net worth individuals, celebrities and international leisure travellers largely. I strongly believe in expanding market size than its current nucleolus and we are now in the process of rolling out offerings to one time experience seekers also. Despite market gaps and shortcomings, the non-scheduled aviation market in India has steadily grown to a market size of over INR 1,800 crore with over 1.3 million passengers flown during FY 2013-14. A combination of improving macro-economic fundamentals and fall in aviation fuel prices is now providing strong tailwinds to this sector with several aircraft and helicopter manufacturers registering increases in order book and betting on India being a core part of their future growth plan.
In the near future, how do you hope to widen your business horizon (scope of services / products or new company initiative?)
Our motto at JetSetgo is reimagining private aviation
By systematically addressing structural inefficiencies, JetSetGo’s new face to be launched in the coming week aims to revolutionize the private aviation business in the region by redefining a customer’s charter experience through an end to end control of the value chain with collaborative partnerships and technology at its core.
As the Uber of the skies and an aggregation platform, JetSetGo provides Indian charter customers for the first time the choice, transparency and flexibility to book a private jet online on both web and mobile platforms. Extending the experience from the ease of the customized online booking process, JetSetGo then provides superior unmatched level of service at every customer touch point through the journey process on ground at both departure and arrival airports and on board based on the purpose of the customer charter be it business or leisure. For single leg trips, through its online demand aggregation model it maximizes the chance for sale of empty travel legs to other customers thereby adding value to original leg customer by giving a credit against original charter cost and for the empty leg traveler a charter at a more attractive price point. In addition unlike the current pricing practice where a customer is charged for a minimum charter cost irrespective of the actual journey time JetSetGo pricing for customers is for actual time flown from Point A to B.
To enable all of this and leveraging technology optimally, JetSetGo provides a cloud based enterprise management tool for aircraft operators which combines scheduling, advanced trip pricing and business intelligence capabilities with an in-built global market place for services and parts that will soon also have transactional capabilities. On the ground through long term strategic alliances and investments JetSetGo is ramping up its capabilities in several Indian airports to put in motion a new JetSetGo customer service standard that will forever re-define the customer experience by providing far superior level of service than that currently exists in the country. My co-founder SudheerPerla and I strongly believe in a country like India where our fundamental approach towards guest hospitality is matched by none the shortcuts and compromises in service levels for such a high value product has generally dropped to appalling levels. We will without compromise raise the bar to indulge and cater to each customer’s need.
In parallel, JetSetGo is working with its ground handling partners enabling strategic international alliances to get as close as possible to offering a wider range of services like a fixed based operator to eventually bring in further efficiencies and cost benefits. To ease the pre-flight planning processes preliminary dialogue has been initiated with government regulatory bodies to explore possibilities to standardize and submit various permissions and requisitions online by integrating or porting from JetSetGo’s operator portal that can cut operator response and planning times for doing charters.
Already having chartered high profile customers like the Ferragamo family on their recent visit to India JetSetGo hopes that its end to end focus will bridge various market voids to provide a far superior alternative to a wider business class flying market or connecting locations that still cannot be served by commercial airlines efficiently. Having a more focused customer base, JetSetGo’s customer acquisition plans revolve around building capabilities for a more engaged approach with its target customers, specific B2B alliances and subsidizing charter costs with the superior services it will provide for existing charter customers through till a greater market share is captured. In parallel the company is investing in big data capabilities to continue provide a more engaged and customer needs responsive offering from time to time. With the luxury market in India also poised for significant growth, the company sees these technology investments paving the way for wider strategic alliances and growth opportunities in the luxury travel and experiences market space.
What words of advice / inspiration do you live by?
I was 14 and on a flight from Bombay to Bhopal, my mind full of ideas on how I will conquer the world. This individual seated next to me (who I later realized was a very well know personality) heard me out and said Kanika – never stop believing in yourself, that’s the first step to success. There have been good times, bad times, hard times and excellent times but with an undaunting faith in myself I continue to move on. This is the greatest piece of advice anyone could have given me. Someone recently gifted me a copy of Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and on reading it I realized my business ideology and my entire business infact is largely based on what he outlines so his practices have now joined my list of inspiration. Everytime things don’t move in my favor I revisit his pages, realize he writes exactly about what we are going through and continue to move on.