By Eric Barton
City & Shore Magazine
JetSmarter is one of those companies you hear about and assume its headquarters must be in some cool place. It sounds Silicon Valley or Austin or Brooklyn or, well, you know, the hipster parts.
Consider that it has raised $50 million in venture capital money. It has cash from the Saudi royal family. It also has cash from American royals, namely Jay-Z.
There’s a simple and snazzy way everyone’s describing it: the Uber of private jets. For a $10,000 yearly fee, plus five grand to start up, users can jump on a private jet between many major U.S. cities, whenever they want.
All of this attention is for a company with an address close to home. JetSmarter’s headquarters is in the Broward Financial Centre building at the corner of Broward Boulevard and Federal Highway. Yup, just a few floors up from Morton’s is one of the most talked-about start-ups in years.
The idea behind JetSmarter is actually simple. It used to be that when somebody with a private jet took off for someplace, the jet would make the return flight empty. JetSmarter saw an opportunity in those unused flights and now provides seats on them to its members by way of a smart phone app. The company also charters entire planes and sells last-minute deals to non-members. Right now, the company is in 50 cities and is concentrating on a global expansion, says Joe Gnaster, senior vice president of business development at JetSmarter.
In the past year, JetSmarter reports that it moved 15,000 passengers, with growth of 15-20 percent per month. The company’s 150 employees are currently spread out among Dubai, Zurich, Moscow, Riyadh and, yes, Fort Lauderdale. It ended up here, Gnaster says, simply because CEO and founder Sergey Petrossov happened to be living here already. Besides, having six executive and international airports nearby made it a fine spot for a private jet company.
The company believes it can appeal to about 3 million customers in the United States who currently use private jets or buy business-class seats. “Traditionally, private aviation was for the top 5 percent of us, and we’re trying to increase that,” Gnaster says.
The company is also selling itself as a way to network with other members. Some of the more well-known among them have announced which flight they’ll be taking, just in case you’ve ever wanted to share a flight with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx or model/actress Emily Ratajkowski.
Or, who knows, maybe you’ll sit next to someone from someplace where the cool companies are based. Like Fort Lauderdale.
JetSmarter, 500 E. Broward Blvd., 19th Floor, Fort Lauderdale, 888-9-VIPJET, jetsmarter.com.