The ‘Uber for X‘ gravy train shows no signs of slowing. From house cleaning to getting high, various services are being distilled into a mobile app and made as convenient to book, or ‘on-demand’, as is technologically possible. And because rich people need convenience too, the list of Uber-styled startups also includes apps that let you easily book a private jet.
One such company is UK startup Victor, which offers an on-demand jet charter service that lets you search, compare and book private jet travel via its website and, as of today, iOS app. In fact, you could lazily call Victor an ‘Uber for private jets’, although it wouldn’t be the first company to receive that comparison.
Most hyped is probably U.S.-based BlackJet, backed by Uber co-founder Garrett Camp, no less (and a whole host of top tier investors and celebs), which launched its private jet booking service in late 2012. However, it’s not clear how successful the Florida-based company has been in its mission to Uber-ize private air travel, with reports that it had stumbled just a year later.
Meanwhile, the UK’s Victor appears to be on a different trajectory. The company is disclosing that it has raised a further $8 million in funding to support expansion into the U.S. That’s noteworthy when you consider that the region is the largest for private aviation, accounting for 49.7 per cent of the global market, with Europe taking a 20.8 per cent share. Or so I’m told.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Victor’s backers are unnamed private investors, made up mostly of Victor users who tend to be high-net-worth individuals anyway. It’s my understanding one of those is the musician Elton John, who famously sang the song ‘Rocket Man’. I guess Private Jet Man doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.
Zooming out a bit further, it’s worth mentioning that the private air travel space consists of more than one model. This includes ‘fractional ownership’ (e.g. you effectively lease a percentage of a plane), offered by the likes of NetJets.
In comparison, Victor and other private jet marketplaces partner with private aviation suppliers around the world — a role that is traditionally done by brokers, arguably with a lot less transparency in terms of commission, provider, aircraft etc.
“I saw a gap in the market where consumers were being kept in the dark when it comes to jet charter. There is no disclosure, no transparency, and no regulation over what a middleman can mark up and no obligation to disclose or pass back any savings if the price comes down,” Victor founder and CEO Clive Jackson tells TechCrunch. “This is an industry that is controlled by the middleman who acts as broker and market maker and who get away with often highly excessive margins because they keep both parties (buyer and seller) separated at the end of a phone and in the dark.”