Difference is, this “Uber for… ” is actually backed by an Uber co-founder. And oh man, is he excited about it.
The startup is called BlackJet, and it’s being backed by Garrett Camp, founding CEO of StumbleUpon and co-founder of Uber. I got Camp on the phone today to talk about the new venture, which he hopes will revolutionize private and charter air travel by making it more efficient. By, um, making it more like Uber.
The problem, as Camp explains it, is that you’ve got about 4,000 private and charter jets that spend most of their time going unused or are only partially filled. He says that only about a third of jets end up flying empty legs after taking a trip to one destination. Also, those jets are only in the sky for about an hour a day, as opposed to commercial aircraft, which fly an average of 11 hours each day. The result is a ton of waste in the industry.
In the same way that Uber corralled excess black car inventory and found a way to automate the match up between supply and demand, BlackJet seeks to partner with charter jet services to help them fill space on flights — essentially creating a more efficient operational layer. It’s basically providing those services with demand they never had before, taking a cut of the proceeds. And since it doesn’t operate any of the jets themselves, it saves a ton of money on providing a private jet experience without having to, you know, own the equipment or staff the flights.
For business and first-class travelers, BlackJet should be able to streamline the travel process. Those who travel by private jet should be able to do so more cheaply. And those who are business travelers will be able to spend a little bit more than a first class ticket on a commercial airline, but not have to worry about all the usual security and boarding and whatever muss-and-fuss that the hoi polloi put up with. That could seriously cut down on the amount of travel time required, for instance making a trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco take two hours instead of four.
The company has already been making this type of service available, delivering 3,000 seats on more than 800 flights pre-launch. But it’s adding a digital component, letting travelers book online and through a mobile app to simplify the process. At launch, BlackJet will be rolled out on an invite-only basis, allowing the company to control demand as it gets started.
That launch will have two primary routes available: New York to Los Angeles and New York to south Florida. But soon it will be connecting San Francisco with Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas. Other additional routes will primarily be based on user demand, Camp told me.
The startup has an all-star list of investors, including Camp, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, First Round Capital, Shervin Pishevar, SV Angel, Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary, Michael Birch, Naval Ravikant, Rick Marini, Noah Goodhart, Thomas Ryan, Josh Spear, Jay Levy, Science Inc.’s Peter Pham and Mike Jones, Dan Rosensweig, Stephen Russell, Tim Ferriss, Matt Mullenweg, Ryan Sarver, Steve Jang, Shakil Khan, and David Ulevitch. Others include Precedent Investments, Overbrook Entertainment, and Roc Nation.