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business of aviation inspiring interview with Ms Kanika Tekriwal Founder -JetSetGo

I started in the business aviation industry at the age of 17, hustling college and a full time job. My
dream was to enable the fastest and most convenient possible connectivity from point A to point B.
When cancer put the brakes on at the age of 21 and no one agreed to give me a job with my medical
situation, I decided to turn my dreams into reality on my own. I believe that we will all be using the
skies for intra city as well as inter-city transport in the near future. The technology exists, but it takes
pioneers to make it happen.
With over a decade of hands-on experience in the aviation industry, we are redefining what it means
to fly with JetSetGo which currently manages and operates India’s largest private jet and helicopter
fleet. We fixed the two biggest problems in the industry, making private jets profit centres instead of
cost centres for owners, and at the same time reducing aircraft charter costs for end-users.
Through intelligent use of technology, development of maintenance procedures and SMART
management (developed by and the exclusive property of JSG) we reduce maintenance costs,
increase utilised air time, decrease ground time thereby making sure aircraft are profitable. As a
result of this, we have reduced aircraft charter cost enabling customers to fly more than they did
before at the same money they spent earlier. Moreover with the JSG SMART management technique
maintenance prevention and prediction technology has been developed providing safety and on
time delivery like never before.

What inspired you to go for this area of business?

Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey was a natural choice considering that I was born in a
typical Marwari family, with a long history in business. My passion for the industry, in many ways, is
to make flying more accessible to everyone, not just cater to a niche segment.
There have been numerous accounts of gender-based inequality during my journey. Whether it was
recognising that I was the only woman in a boardroom of over a hundred men, being asked to serve
businessmen coffee because they hadn’t done their research about me or JetSetGo ahead of time,
or observing the serious dearth of women as decision-makers or board members in companies, the
list is endless. I quickly came to realise that to reach the same position that a man held, I would have
to work ten times harder than he did, simply because of unrealistic gender stereotypes or implicit
biases. But things are changing gradually and we are seeing a cultural shift in values, which is a good
thing.

3. What are all the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?

What seemed like challenges earlier now seem like the new norm. When I started out despatching 1
flight a week, it used to feel like rocket science! Now we can have a plane in the sky every minute of

the day and I don’t bat an eyelid because the fundamentals of our operations are solid and proven.
Aviation is one of the highest regulated industries globally and we wake up to new regulations every
day. One day you are busy working on how to make the interior beautiful and the next day you are
busy ensuring you remove every bell and whistle and developing sanitisation techniques to ensure
no COVID 19 virus is anywhere in the planes. Whilst some may consider these challenges, this is
what keeps me ticking. That’s aviation for you and that’s the food for my brain.

4. Share with us the achievements of your company in the industry so far?

When I started JSG no one wanted to invest in the business, citing the small business size, lack of
scalability etc. I single- handedly challenged status quo and boot strapped the business with an
investment of INR 5,600 only. I then went on to find a co-founder later and raised USD 2Million.
Today being the single largest market share holder with a little over 21% market share, I have
demonstrated profitability never seen in the Indian business aviation space.

I also believe my biggest strength is my team. I believe impact is driven through creating teams and
empowering people. My first employee joined me when he was an airport pax handler, I used to sit
by him and teach him how to write mails, deal with customers, manage accounting etc. Today he
heads a department draws 12x the salary and is the best performer in the business. From 0 – 150, I
have consistently built a team that dares to dream and achieve. The below diagrams demonstrate
the achievement made by the business and growth demonstrated.

5. What are all your future plans for your business?

Currently, our growth strategy involves a combination of development plans, including finding new,
unexplored target audiences within India and catering to global markets. We are slowly using all of
this while running the business profitably to pioneer air taxis with intra city connectivity in India
using EvTOL’S. My focus is on using the third dimension, the sky, as the future of transport.

6. In the crowd of different businesses, how you differentiate your business ?

When I spoke about making people fly from home to work at the price of an Uber, or the Jetsons
being the future; people mostly said she’s being childish. When I entered board rooms and said, ‘’I
will make your private jets profitable’’, people laughed at the idea and said, ‘’how will an Indian do it
when no one in the world has’’. Now the world is learning our SMART management formulae and
replicating what we do.

JetSetGo ambitiously launched SkyShuttle in 2018, connecting parts of Bombay at the price of an
Uber. People said, ‘’it was impossible and she’ll run out of money’’. I did it without compromising
company profitability and set the platform for EvTOL’S. SkyShuttle remains the first to do so globally
with a lot of replica’s coming in then on.
I believe in taking systematic risks and consistently challenging status quo. I question everything that
is and spends a large part of my time on exploring the unexplored.

7. Do you feel you have achieved what you dream of?

With JetSetGo, that currently manages and operates India’s largest private jet and helicopter fleet,
we dreamt of fixing the two biggest problems in the industry; making private jets profit centres
instead of cost centres for owners and at the same time reducing aircraft charter costs for charter
customers. Till date, we are able to achieve 32% reduction in aircraft downtime and 45% reduction
in ownership cost, which is just a portion of what we aim at achieving.
Moreover, with the JSG SMART management technique maintenance prevention and prediction
technology has been developed providing safety and on time delivery like never before. We are
slowly using all of this while running the business profitably to pioneer air taxis with intra city
connectivity in India using EvTOL’S.

8. What are all the improvements you suggest in the area of Business you are in?

Aviation, like many industries, has previously benefited from innovative thinking combined with
improvements in regulatory guidelines. We would like to inspire more progression on this front, to
see our customers have an upgraded experience when flying private. The Indian aviation industry
needs to open up, modernise and encourage new entrants, and ensure that Indian passengers are
the ultimate beneficiaries.

9. Any piece of advice for budding entrepreneurs?

Successful businesses were not built on money, but on great people and great ideas. When stepping
into the world of business, have a calculated vision. Why are you doing what you want to do? Do you
have a passion for it? If you don’t, find something else that makes you want to wake up in the
morning and bolt to the office. Tears, blood, and sweat are all part of the game; no one said it was
going to be easy, no matter how much you believe in your mission. Stay curious. Keep learning.
Don’t lose your drive.

About the author

BusinessUpdater

An MBA in HR and Marketing from AIMS Institute (Bangalore University), He heads digital business he has a rich experience that he has garnered from his previous organisations Including leading Banks, NBFCs & Genpact India. He is a serial entrepreneur and the founder of Heavy Group of Companies.

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