Entrepreneur Clive Jackson is behind a private jet marketplace affording air travelers the luxury of flying by chartered jet
Since launching in London in 2011 Victor has been revolutionizing the private jet charter sector.
Previously, leisure and business travelers would often have to pay high costs to fly on a luxury charter jet. They’d also have to navigate frustratingly long and opaque booking processes with traditional, non-digital brokers.
And whilst flying privately on-demand has been made simpler and more affordable, chartered jet travel has been attracting a wider customer base.
Victor users can book flights quickly on their smartphones or desktops – or by calling a 24-7 team of hi-touch customer service experts.
After receiving several instant quotes and estimates, they can make well informed decisions based on clear prices and specific aircraft details. They also have a choice of around 7,000 private jets at 40,000 airports around the world.
Fixed booking fees ensure complete transparency, whilst itineraries, travel updates, specific details of jets, crew and amenities all create a tailored and seamless customer experience.
I take delivering for Victor’s customers and shareholders very seriously, but the big gain for me is the personal sense of achievement from doing things incredibly well.
Here, the UK-based CEO and founder tells Nativa World about his successful entrepreneurial journey and explains why Victor has become the largest private jet marketplace in the world…
Clive, what does the word ‘Achieve’ mean to you?
It means being driven. I rarely accept compromises in relation to the goals and ambitions that I set for myself; giving up is not in my vocabulary. Apart from where my family, health and integrity is concerned, I will do whatever it takes to achieve my goals. It’s not about the personal financial gain. I take delivering for Victor’s customers and shareholders very seriously, but the big gain for me is the personal sense of achievement from doing things incredibly well.
What’s your background?
I have worked in corporate finance, commercial property, debt financing and have provided financial advice to ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWI’s). I founded one of the UK’s first ‘design and build’ internet marketing agencies called Global Beach and in 2003 I founded Autotorq – a specialist digital marketing agency for the automotive sector.
How and why did Victor come to life?
I founded Victor out of frustration with the lack of transparency and excessive charging in the private jet charter market. I regularly traveled from London to Mallorca (where I have a second home), and when BMI cancelled all scheduled services for that route, I was left without options.
On the last BMI flight home, I polled my fellow passengers who I found were equally frustrated with the cancelled route, and skeptical of private jet travel. I walked off the plane with several new business cards and a mission to make transparent on-demand jet charter service a reality.
The fact that so many first-time flyers are choosing Victor shows just how much the private charter market is opening up and changing, for the better.
What are your goals for the business?
We continue to develop our commercial teams and functions, expand our operations across Europe and in North America, and explore global partnership opportunities. Expansion into the Middle East and South East Asia is on our radar.
Any data to show growth for Victor?
We’ve been seeing significant numbers of new charterers for a while now whilst continuing to grow our established charter audience. So far in 2016, 34% of Victor bookings have been made by customers who have never flown privately before which shows how much the private charter market is opening up and changing – for the better.
As the company rapidly scales, so the types of aircraft being booked around the world are also broadening. 68 different aircraft types have been chartered in 2016, representing a 45% increase year-on-year. Last year, we came 15th in the Sunday Times Tech Track 100 – a reputable reflection of our three-year average sales growth of 142% (per annum).
What’s been your funding route thus far?
To date, Victor has raised funds to the total of $24.45m via HNWI’s and Family Offices. Victor’s investors are successful individuals in business and cultural life, not to mention regular users of the Victor service. We’re currently approaching a new round of funding with which to further scale the business.
What challenges did you face starting this business?
Disruption always brings with it controversy and a huge amount of skepticism. We’ve been envied, sometimes hated, because we’ve had the resource to do things the old guard haven’t. It’s been important to retain our focus, and believe in what we’re doing.
How did you assemble your team initially?
Part of my inspiration came from someone already operating in the world of private jet charter, who educated me for six solid hours on how dysfunctional the private charter world is. I asked him to join me and so brought in someone with a ‘can do’ attitude and a lot of aviation and commercial experience. Victor is now more than 70 team members and I’m privileged to be working with some very hardworking, bright and talented people.
Which is your main competitor?
The private jet industry has long been dominated by traditional brokers who manage nearly all of the jet booking process offline. They offer customers an inefficient, inconsistent and unclear service because they don’t share all key booking details, nor their own profit margin.
Victor’s marketplace is on-demand and free to join. Our flyers are always connected and in control.
There are a lot of new online charter companies entering the sector right now. But, in reality, many of these are grossly exaggerating the size of the market, seemingly content in believing their own hype, and some have failed.
Victor’s own strategy has been carefully thought through and we continue to invest in technology but not at the cost of developing and expanding our customer service function – the human factor. Where membership fees are required for some players, and the flyer has to travel according to predetermined shuttle routes, Victor’s marketplace is on-demand and free to join. Our flyers are always connected and in control.
Global travel for business and leisure is part of our everyday 21st century lives and by flying smarter with companies like Victor people will be able to devote more time to the things that really matter to them.
How do you think technology will further disrupt the private charter jet sector?
Technology enhances our understanding of cities and how people within them are moving around the world. Technology in turn enriches the human experience. Global travel for business and leisure is part of our everyday 21st century lives and by flying smarter with companies like Victor people will be able to devote more time to the things that really matter to them.
What makes a business travel experience enjoyable for you?
Seamless travel connections between airline, Uber, hotel and meetings. Furthermore, getting to sleep on an aircraft when switching time zones so that I arrive already adjusted – that’s not easy but it can be done, as I regularly fly back and forth between London and San Francisco.
Anything that frustrates you as a business traveler?
Not having the right information stored locally (for example, addresses, directions, local contact details) – when your Wi-Fi goes down and you’re in a different time zone you need the right support quickly to hand.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I don’t think of work as work in the traditional sense, which means I don’t see it as something that most people perceive is necessary to balance with the more pleasurable things in life. No matter what sort of tasks I have to accomplish, they’re stepping stones towards achieving my goals. Once I complete any tasks efficiently, I always find pleasure in setting time aside to do the other stuff around family and friends, healthy recreation and experiencing new things.
Who inspires you in business?
People are hugely inspiring to me when they cut against the grain and have done things their way – often against all the odds and with very little help from anyone other than their family. I respect business people who believe in themselves enough to go where most others dare not follow and when they’re willing to live by the consequences of their actions. The real stars possess integrity, humility, modesty and generosity.
Your favorite app for business travel?
Siri – I have become quite good at doing everything via voice.
Your favorite app for business?
Our own Victor charter booking app gives me a fantastic real time view of how the company and team are performing. I also love my Apple Watch for accessing instant notifications from Bloomberg and other media, for effective communication with my Executive Assistant or Chairman, and, of course, for chats with my wife and daughter.
Clive’s Top Start-up Tips
- If you’re assessing any new opportunity be brutally realistic about what the size of the opportunity actually is – get real about the size of the addressable market, what your take on it is going to be, and how you are going to achieve this. Most start-ups get carried away with how clever they think they are, or how cool their tech is going to be; so much so, that they end up losing sight of the basic enterprise economics
- Be paranoid. Not to the point that you stop doing anything useful but do recognize that someone or something else may come along and muscle in on your patch, and perhaps even do what you’re doing better than you. Turn the paranoia into a healthy desire to stay ahead – always keep your radar on, and when you see something good or inspirational adapt it if you can to help further your chances of success
- Fully understand your customer and the channels to talk to them, as well as play your resource, your marketing and branding carefully
- If a business is to succeed, it needs a sustainable business plan and quality management to execute.
Photography courtesy of Clive Jackson & Victor