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Flying Private: Progress Thread

A detailed account of a Fastlane process...

ThomasTLM

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For the past few weeks I have been in contact with a friend of mine who has been developing a solution to a problem in the private jet industry. He has been an entrepreneur for a while, and I wanted to get some advice from him. Yesterday I met with him over google meet to talk entrepreneur stuff.

I told him how I've been getting into web development and how I already have a few leads.

Not only did he give me advice...but he wants my help with his business. And, from what I can tell, it fulfills the CENTS Commandments.

So, here it goes:
People who fly private highly value their time (as we all should of course, but that's besides the point for right now).
According to my friend, the average person who flies private is making $5M/year, and the amount they make per hour justifies flying private over commercial.
On top of that, scheduling a private jet can take some time as it isn't as straightforward compared to flying commercial. AND even when it IS straightforward, there is still another problem: you have to communicate with a middle man in order to get to a jet operator.
By "straightforward" I mean that all you have to input to find a flight is what airport you are leaving, what airport you are going to, when, and how many people. When flying private you have to input more information.
The idea here is to streamline the process: you input the minimum information and that info gets sent DIRECTLY to the operator. No f*cking around with some middleman who thinks he can turn a profit by "helping" you find a jet.
However, in reality he isn't helping (even if he thinks he is) because there is a lot of back and forth that needs to happen before actually finding the proper jet.

My friend has confirmed that, not only does this actually work, but other companies that schedule jets for people aren't doing this yet.
Why?
They're afraid to.


If you can simply put a person scheduling a jet directly in contact with the operator and take yourself out of the equation, it seems like you won't turn a profit. These companies want their money, and they believe that implementing this would put them out of business. They don't realize (or they do and are just selfish) that doing this provides a fast and easy (therefore valuable) way to schedule private. It's as easy, if not easier, than scheduling commercial.

No waiting around. No hassle. No depending on a middle man.

Now, there are a few businesses doing this, but the market is so unsaturated that it's easy to get going. Additionally, there is a barrier: actually getting operators to join our business. It's easier said than done, but I've seen some of what my friend has worked on. It's impressive. But he also said he needs my help because his background is marketing and the web development/actually getting the thing to work isn't his forte.

I'll post more on this later, but that is the gist of it for right now.

Godspeed,
Thomas
 
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Bounce Back

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I like the connections you are making and actively looking for something.

With that said I googled: "charter jet crm software" and a lot of these popped up so I wouldn't go at it thinking it is novel (but you really don't want to do something unproven anways).

"Pioneers get slaughtered. Settlers prosper." - Daymond John
 

ThomasTLM

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(but you really don't want to do something unproven anways).
Yes, some people are doing it.
But I think we can do it better, and we will.
We will build a brand, not a business.

Queen me. (TMF Chpt 43)
 
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ThomasTLM

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ThomasTLM

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"Pioneers get slaughtered. Settlers prosper." - Daymond John
Lol this quote reminds me of "Tekel Syndrome" from TMF . (See chpt 44):
"The Tekel Syndrome is a compulsion to scatter your focus across different projects and opportunities. It’s also a symptom of money chasing versus need filling. When you invest your time into five different businesses, you become a polygamist-opportunist. The idea is to toss as much shit on the wall as possible because something’s gotta stick. Something’s gotta make me some money!"
 
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People who fly private highly value their time (as we all should of course, but that's besides the point for right now).
According to my friend, the average person who flies private is making $5M/year, and the amount they make per hour justifies flying private over commercial.
It sounds like the business is based on the premise that people making $5M/year are scheduling their own flights and you want to save them time.

But surely these people have admin assistants booking these flights for them, right?

So the pain point being solved is maybe not even being felt much by the passengers themselves in most cases.

Just something to consider.

Sounds like it has been potential to be a solid business.
 

Kevin88660

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For the past few weeks I have been in contact with a friend of mine who has been developing a solution to a problem in the private jet industry. He has been an entrepreneur for a while, and I wanted to get some advice from him. Yesterday I met with him over google meet to talk entrepreneur stuff.

I told him how I've been getting into web development and how I already have a few leads.

Not only did he give me advice...but he wants my help with his business. And, from what I can tell, it fulfills the CENTS Commandments.

So, here it goes:
People who fly private highly value their time (as we all should of course, but that's besides the point for right now).
According to my friend, the average person who flies private is making $5M/year, and the amount they make per hour justifies flying private over commercial.
On top of that, scheduling a private jet can take some time as it isn't as straightforward compared to flying commercial. AND even when it IS straightforward, there is still another problem: you have to communicate with a middle man in order to get to a jet operator.
By "straightforward" I mean that all you have to input to find a flight is what airport you are leaving, what airport you are going to, when, and how many people. When flying private you have to input more information.
The idea here is to streamline the process: you input the minimum information and that info gets sent DIRECTLY to the operator. No f*cking around with some middleman who thinks he can turn a profit by "helping" you find a jet.
However, in reality he isn't helping (even if he thinks he is) because there is a lot of back and forth that needs to happen before actually finding the proper jet.

My friend has confirmed that, not only does this actually work, but other companies that schedule jets for people aren't doing this yet.
Why?
They're afraid to.


If you can simply put a person scheduling a jet directly in contact with the operator and take yourself out of the equation, it seems like you won't turn a profit. These companies want their money, and they believe that implementing this would put them out of business. They don't realize (or they do and are just selfish) that doing this provides a fast and easy (therefore valuable) way to schedule private. It's as easy, if not easier, than scheduling commercial.

No waiting around. No hassle. No depending on a middle man.

Now, there are a few businesses doing this, but the market is so unsaturated that it's easy to get going. Additionally, there is a barrier: actually getting operators to join our business. It's easier said than done, but I've seen some of what my friend has worked on. It's impressive. But he also said he needs my help because his background is marketing and the web development/actually getting the thing to work isn't his forte.

I'll post more on this later, but that is the gist of it for right now.

Godspeed,
Thomas
Ah after reading thrice I seem to get it.

Uber for private jet?

Good to learn from you and hope you can continue to update this progress thread and teach us things that most people don’t know.
 

ThomasTLM

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Ah after reading thrice I seem to get it.

Uber for private jet?

Good to learn from you and hope you can continue to update this progress thread and teach us things that most people don’t know.
Essentially, yes basically Uber for private jets haha.

I will post an update tomorrow. I had another meeting this past Friday evening with my friend and another guy that I've been practicing web dev with for the past few months.
 
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ThomasTLM

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It sounds like the business is based on the premise that people making $5M/year are scheduling their own flights and you want to save them time.

But surely these people have admin assistants booking these flights for them, right?

So the pain point being solved is maybe not even being felt much by the passengers themselves in most cases.
You may very well be right, and I think it might be both.

Either way, someone is scheduling flights whether it's the person making $5M/year or their assistant.

Interesting tidbit from my friend that he shared with us after our meeting on Friday:

"ACS is #1 in the Charter booking market, and does over $40M in annual revenue with 1,000 employees. They’re still handling every booking manually. Learn About ACS's Company History | Air Charter Service
With under 10 people I think we can handle the same amount of bookings, and only spending a fraction of what they do in overhead."
 

Panos Daras

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But surely these people have admin assistants booking these flights for them, right?
Very good observation. But not only that there is also a confidentiality issue.

They're afraid to.
Also, this seems like a weak argument from your friend.

Now, there are a few businesses doing this, but the market is so unsaturated that it's easy to get going.
If this is indeed true it is amazing for you.

his background is marketing and the web development/actually getting the thing to work isn't his forte.
What web development are we talking about? Do you already have so many customers that you need a platform? What problem are you trying to solve? Won't a simple landing page do for now?

I don't know, but if things seem too good to be true they usually are.
What you are describing is a very mixed bag and it smells. like poo poo.

My opinion is irrelevant though.
Because if you have customers willing to pay real money for this that's all you need for now.
So the next step is getting clients and getting paid for that service.
 

ThomasTLM

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Update post: Here's what we discussed on Friday

Our biggest competition is "Wheels Up", which is only a mobile app that has a $3000/year membership (and there are a lot of other things). We want to make something that is accessible on a computer and a phone and doesn't have as steep of a price.

The process for our company goes like this:
  1. Compare multiple quotes for charters
  2. Select preferred charter
  3. Email is sent to the operator, who will then book directly with each passenger
  4. Then the operator will receive their compensation from the passenger, and we get paid only after a completed mission
Who are the operators?
Anyone who services a jet, specifically anyone with a part 135 license from the FAA.

What is the goal for the website to be in a marketable state?
According to my friend, technically it could be considered marketable now, but he is not comfortable with that (and tbh neither am I after seeing what the website looks like.) It looks great, but theirs still a lot of functionality missing such as...
  • A "suggested airports" dropdown appears after typing a few characters.
    • This is kinda done, but only for a few airports. We need to add more.
  • Round trip searching (this is the biggest thing that we need to do because it's our biggest pain point)
  • Need to be able to double the quote if the round trip is greater than 7 days (i.e. if the passenger will be staying in that location for more than a week. The quote won't get doubled/tripled/etc any more after that.)
  • We need to get access to a database that has information about many operators. (I can't remember off the top of my head who has this database
    • this is a long-term item for when we are up-and-running and already have a large amount of operators on our own
  • We need to make the email sent to the operator look professional
  • Need to make is so our airport search can be proximity-based and not just city-based
  • Have a review system for passengers to rate their operators
Pitch deck:
We want operators to build a legacy, that is, be in business for a long time.
  • Legacy Operator
    • Provide a good service (which is fast booking)
    • Have a long-term relationship between passenger and operator (no middle man)
    • Operators reap the benefits of their good work
    • They also get a good review
  • Partner benefits
    • faster bookings/more bookings
    • build brand equity
    • non-invasive (again, no middle man, and the passengers requesting a charter don't have to input every single piece of info about themselves)
    • keep goo relationships
    • free to join, forever
That is the basics of what we went over in our meeting.
I'll update further when things get interesting. Our next meeting will actually be getting into the code/web dev side of things and I'll have to put my problem-solving hat on.

Godspeed!
Thomas
 
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ThomasTLM

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What web development are we talking about? Do you already have so many customers that you need a platform? What problem are you trying to solve? Won't a simple landing page do for now?
Perhaps you are right! Maybe we could do a beta version of the website.
My friend is already reaching out to operators in the area, so maybe they would be interested in being early-testers.

I don't know, but if things seem too good to be true they usually are.
What you are describing is a very mixed bag and it smells. like poo poo.
What makes you say that? I had a slight thought that maybe it is, but he has the interest of operators in our area already, and he has gotten some revenue from it.

Also, this seems like a weak argument from your friend.
Probably lol but only time will tell.


Til next time,
Godspeed,
Thomas
 

ThomasTLM

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One reason I am doing this business is because I actually feel like I'm leveraging a part of my degree. I've stated before that I work as a structural engineer, but I'm technically a civil engineer.

The problems needing to be faced in this business require a lot of web dev and coding, but also a solid knowledge concerning transportation engineering.

Anyways, there's my random post for the day.
 

ThomasTLM

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Got started with coding and working on solving one problem at a time.

First issue I decided to tackle was to figure out how to make airport selection proximity-based (for example, within a 50 mi radius) instead of city-based.

This is technically the first big project I've worked on coding-wise. I must admit I'm a little scared, but I know that the process must come first before the events!

Godspeed,
Thomas
 
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The Racing Driver

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Got started with coding and working on solving one problem at a time.

First issue I decided to tackle was to figure out how to make airport selection proximity-based (for example, within a 50 mi radius) instead of city-based.

This is technically the first big project I've worked on coding-wise. I must admit I'm a little scared, but I know that the process must come first before the events!

Godspeed,
Thomas

Hope everything is progressing well for you Thomas. Keen to see your progress as I've recently qualified as a commercial pilot here in Europe, and dreaming of flying private jets one day.

I'm at a very similar stage as you in terms of building a business, as I'm working on creating a solution with a website/app in another industry. I have some coding skills however to get a site up and running quick and to figure out the workflows and data types I will use, I'm using a no-code builder.
 

ThomasTLM

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Hope everything is progressing well for you Thomas. Keen to see your progress as I've recently qualified as a commercial pilot here in Europe, and dreaming of flying private jets one day.

I'm at a very similar stage as you in terms of building a business, as I'm working on creating a solution with a website/app in another industry. I have some coding skills however to get a site up and running quick and to figure out the workflows and data types I will use, I'm using a no-code builder.
Cool to hear! I'm looking into becoming a private pilot myself.

As far as progress goes, it's slow and steady as of right now.
My friend talked to a business of private operators in our hometown about our website and they said that it sounds great!

As far as what I personally was working on from my post on April 10th, I decided to hold off on what I was working on mainly because I hadn't actually consulted my friends just yet on that part of the design. We met the other day to discuss what areas we each should work on so we aren't stepping on each other's toes.

For one thing, I actually need to figure out how Github works in tandem with VSCode because I'm still not sure about that. I'm sure I'll learn as I go, but for right now I need a basic understanding of pushing, pulling, committing, etc.

But I have still been working on stuff with the website. Just last night my work on the website consisted of an autocomplete function for when the user is typing in the airport codes for the "Where from?" and "Where to?" part of the form.

That's the update for now. If you are reading this, I hope your endeavors are going well!

Godspeed!
Thomas
 

ThomasTLM

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One more note for my daily report:

I'm not trying to be like "Hey what color of [insert fancy car brand] should I get?!" but I am very sure this business can make my current yearly salary in under month even with the following in consideration:
  • We take 5% of the operator's compensation for a completed "mission" (For comparison, other private charters take anywhere from 10%-15%)
  • Margins are small (~10%) because we use a lot of our revenue for developing our website and winning over more operators and users with out marketing/branding
  • We only "tap into" 0.5% of the yearly private flights within the U.S. (which is 23,000 flights/charters scheduled through our website assuming that there are 4.6M private flights per year (based off 2022).
As great as this is, I still want to get that first customer. That's our first goal!
 
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ThomasTLM

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It's been about a week since I last posted, but here is where we are right now:

We are looking at two weeks (from Tuesday) until we officially launch.
Our small team of myself and my two friends have a few high-priority tasks to finish up before then:
Tasks.JPG
We divided the tasks between us. I chose to work on task 3 and 4. I am done with task 3 and moved on to 4 yesterday.

We have a list of lower-priority tasks, but we figured that if we can get these functions added to our website first, then we can proceed with launching, and then marketing and getting operators to join us.

This is an exciting time! Execution is actually quite fun (and sort of scary) once you get the ball rolling. It's like riding on a rollercoaster. Sure it's a thrill, but if you don't make sure your harness is securing you properly, your ride will be short.

Godspeed, fastlaners.
 

ThomasTLM

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I've recently qualified as a commercial pilot here in Europe, and dreaming of flying private jets one day.
I'm looking into becoming a private pilot myself.
On a somewhat unrelated note, I just got off the phone with Sweet Aviation (a private jet company in my hometown that offers training classes for getting a private pilot's license).

I have a "discovery flight" scheduled on May 11th.
 

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You've got the right drive - keep pushing. And hold yourself to no matter what launching in that two weeks - no maybe. As long as you are not going to hurt someone ship smaller stuff broken if need be so you get past the hurdle of actually making it live the first time.
 
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ThomasTLM

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Another weekly update:

We had our first "board meeting" last night lol. At least, that is what we called it in jest. We sat outside in the evening with some cigars and some whiskey and coffee, and it was very pleasant.

We conversed a lot about our website, our futures, and the plans for the business after a lot of the development side of things is finished.

My friend actually got to meet with Travis Rosbach (the founder of Hydroflask) a few weeks ago, and he (Travis) after hearing about our business said he was more psyched about our business than his own. That made us all feel pretty awesome, especially since Travis has certainly proved himself as a very seasoned entrepreneur.

Furthermore, Travis told my friend that he wanted to get involved if he could, even if he was just cold-calling.
I'm super excited for the ball to get rolling. We are still very much on track to launch this coming week and we are not diverting from that timeline. All three of us expressed that we were committed to this no matter what.

Let's kick a$$!

GODSPEED!
 

ThomasTLM

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ThomasTLM

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Weekly Update:

Okay, so technically yesterday we were supposed to launch.
We didn't. We aren't totally there yet, but we are so close.

There isn't much to say besides that we are getting there. Trust me when I say we haven't been idle. All three of us have been working our asses off to finish up some of these major tasks.

I won't post again until we have definitely launched. You can lose hope in us if I don't say anything again for a long time.

Godspeed, fastlaners.
 
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ThomasTLM

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Final Update: My first lesson in Entrepreneurship

I have been thoroughly humbled.

Unfortunately, this endeavor has fallen through for me. I'm just now realizing that when it comes to CENTS, I have 100% violated the rule of Control. The main guy who was in charge of this booted us.

Here's what happened:
Over the past few weeks, my friend and I have been assisting in the creation of this guy's website. We had been putting in a ton of effort and working our asses off trying to get some elements of the website to function properly but to no avail.
The guy starting this business - let's call him "Bob" - texted me saying he wanted to have a video call.

Bob, in the most respectful way possible, basically told me I'm fired. He said that he wasn't discounting the effort that my friend and I were putting in, but it wasn't moving the dial. He didn't exactly place all of the blame on us because he acknowledged that there were some things about the inner workings of the website that he knew more about than us, but I will admit that I did not do a fantastic job communicating this to him.

Additionally, Bob said that he knew I personally wanted to go Fastlane, but he said he doesn't see his business going in that direction. This was pretty odd to me, but I'm not going to force him to run his business a certain way simply because I'm biased towards fastlane entrepreneurship.


We parted on good terms. We both recognized that we didn't want to waste each other's time. I didn't want to drag on and delay the launch of his website, and he didn't want me to think that this business would get me on the fastlane when in reality it wouldn't while he was running things.

I've learned a big lesson: I can't try and "hitch-hike" my way to financial freedom. I may as well find another job, and that isn't what I want. Hitch-hiking violates Control. I call this a big lesson because, despite thinking that I was making my way up in the world over the past month, I'm back on square one with basically nothing to show for my work.

Don't think that this is my goodbye. I don't want to give up. This totally sucks and I hate feeling like a failure, but I want to try again. This time, however it will be on my own terms. No more hitch-hiking.

I feel like there is more that I want to say, but for right now I think I ought to take a step back and have a good, long look at the road ahead. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do, but I think I need some time to contemplate. It's time I take a deep breath of air before I plunge again.

I know I've got the Speedway Pass, but I'm not even sure anyone will see this. If you do read this, any advice you've got for someone who has made their first entrepreneurial blunder would be greatly appreciated.

M.J., if you're reading this, you're books gave me a swift kick in the a$$ during a time when I was just about to settle for less. It was a time when I thought to myself "Well, I guess I'll just work and get paid for the rest of my life and hope I have enough to retire." It was a time when I was being a damn fool, and it helped me realize that the times in my life where I started to give more of a shit was when someone gave me the hard truth without sugar-coating it either directly through conversation or indirectly - like through a book.

Godspeed,
Thomas
 

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Is this a progress thread? Or are you looking for feedback? Validation?

I remember responding to this...

That day I was exhausted and lacking patience but I still wanted to help (that's just who I am).

I could see a failing business strategy from a mile away.

Not because of you (I don't even know you).

But I have 4 CLOSE friends who have been/are in this business.

One built a $30MM/year business.
2 pretend they own a fleet of private jets so they can sound cool at cocktail parties (hint: literally all planes are available for rent/charters and always have been).
1 (it's a partnership) just bought 2 planes to start their own private fleet and are losing their a$$.

I get it, to you I'm just some idiot stranger on the internet (there's a lot of those on this forum).

And I didn't want to just stomp on your dream (like most people would).

But I just didn't have the energy that day to calmly explain my experience and if you still wanted to go forward with this, how to get around those pitfalls.

I apologize for that.

That being said.

Dude, this won't be the first time or the last time you "fail" at a business.

I built 3 "successful" businesses and then the next 3 "failed"

I'm just now on my next "successful" journey. It's going well. But it's stressful. Challenging.

Money problems never go away, they just have more zeroes!

Anywho. Good luck, broski.

Spend some time looking for new opportunities. It's a fulltime job!
 

Bounce Back

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Hmm... I am going to go against the grain here. I think your phrasing here is actually the opposite - instead of learning about locus of control you are giving it away in this very update!

Didn't you believe in this? Didn't you grind on this?

He didn't get it - so what? If you honestly saw the opportunity and didn't have rose-tinted glasses on (time for a gut check and to be brutally honest with yourself) then getting to building the same thing now for yourself.

This guy didn't dump you and now that's the end of the road for you. No he just created his biggest competitor or made a potentially big regret - if you are going to put in the work still and take the reins.

Sometimes we cast pearls in front of those who can't perceive them - that doesn't make you the swine brother.
 
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