Glenn Gonzales: Ready, Jet Set, Go! Your Freedom to Fly

Want the freedom of fast and comfortable travel? How about co-owning a private jet?

Private aviation is all about getting from A to B as quickly, comfortably, and safely as possible. That’s where the Jet It model comes in. It offers the perfect solution for people who are looking to fly privately, but don’t want any of that pesky hassle.

Former Honda Aircraft sales executive Glenn Gonzales and co-founder Vishal Hiremath created Jet It with the goal of bridging the gap between private charter flights and expensive, luxury air travel. 

Glenn’s life has been intricately entwined with the skies. He is the company’s CEO, a decorated U.S Air Force veteran, Lieutenant Colonel in the USAF Reserves, and long-time aviation industry expert. With his 24-year track record of success, he has become one of the most prominent figures in private air travel today.

Jet It’s disruptive business model

Jet It uses a hybrid-fractional ownership model which allows shareowners to utilize the plane for a certain number of days rather than the industry standard of a certain number of hours. This offers shareowners the flexibility to use their fleet at any time. This way, they can tailor their day for them and provide the best experience possible. “The airlines are no longer as fun as they were 30 years ago … you need an innovative business model,” Glenn said.

The model addresses the market’s demand for a private aviation mode of transportation that allows them more autonomy and efficiency while remaining refined, practical, and cost-effective. At just $1,600 per hour, the Jet It model stands unmatched in its field.

An important component of JetIt’s model is the HondaJet. It’s fast, efficient, spacious, with a baggage capacity larger than any jet in its class. With an easily justifiable expense, you get the best of everything, including  a comfortable, quiet, well-appointed, and stylish cabin.

“Our company is based upon the premise that those with means are looking for more autonomy and efficiency in their travel,” he expressed. “If you’re going from New York to DC, that’s a one-hour flight. If you’re paying $800 a seat [for two] in business class or first class, now you’re at $3,200 for the round trip. Guess what? $3,200 for Jet It is the exact same price point. You leave when you want. There’s no TSA. There’s no one coughing or sneezing next to you. There are no fights on the airplane.”

Because of the model’s innovativeness, Jet It has been the subject of case studies at Harvard and Yale business schools, and has set multiple aviation world records.

Plans for growth

When I interviewed Glenn last year, I asked if there was one thing he was doubling down on to scale and grow his company. “Our growth in scalability is really focused on value,” he said. “We’re focused on expanding our value in particular with our international operations.”

In March 2021, Glenn and Vishall founded the sister brand Jet Club for Asian, European, and South American regions. Jet It and Jet Club have a global presence with over 160 employees in the U.S., Canada, Europe.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed business travelers to seek alternatives to commercial aviation, and this environment has created an opportunity for Jet It to introduce themselves and their services to a broader audience.

Jet It’s top two priorities are simple. Number one, operate safely and number two, keep people happy. “Making people happy extends beyond just the flights,” Glenn shared.

“It extends further into how we add more value that when you’re a European and you’re traveling to Toronto, you still have the same access to our service that you had in Europe. Or if you’re in the US and you’re traveling around Canada, or you’re traveling to India. When you get to those environments, you get a consistent, certain, and an experience that’s the same every single time.”

Five C’s he considers in hiring the right people

Glenn is committed to ensuring that they retain their company culture. He believes in a no-bureaucracy approach, which is why it’s so important for him to meet with every new employee as quickly as possible so they can become acclimated to the company environment.

He shared the five C’s that they’re looking for during their interviews. They want their employees to be competent, be great communicators, and have courage. They should also be able to understand the vision of what the company is doing, and expand their capacity while being committed towards this larger goal.

That’s how they make sure their company is hiring only qualified people, which helps them maintain a high standard of work. “That’s the beginning of growing, scaling, and maintaining our culture and expanding globally with the same service and purpose.”

Catch my full conversation with Glenn on the Fascinating Entrepreneurs podcast!

Transcript from Podcast

[00:00:00] Glenn: I wrote a paper called From Cockpits to CEO: A Pilot’s Guide to the C-suite. And I had no idea that it would lead to me becoming an entrepreneur. I was just trying to lead a company and it just so happened to turn out that that pathway that I wrote about turned out to be a pathway to my own company.

[00:00:19] Natasha: Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS. How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur? How do they scale and grow their businesses? How do they plan for profit? Are they in it for life? Are they building to exit? These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

If you’d like to know how to scale and grow your business and make more profits, sign up on my website, natashamiller.co to get on the waitlist for my entrepreneurial masters course.

Want to travel by private jet? Want to own a share in the jet? This really is becoming more accessible due to the disruption of the industry by entrepreneur Glenn Gonzales and his partner. Now let’s get right into it.

[00:01:17] Glenn: A lot of luck is the short answer to your question. How did we get here? I’ve always loved aviation, all things flying related, and that landed me at the Air Force Academy.

And I figured if I’m going to fly, I want to fly the biggest, fastest, best airplane. I think that’s just the general nature of all aviators and pilots. And that landed me in the T-38 where I served as an instructor. I followed that up with the F-15, absolutely loved the airplane, loved the experience.

I’ve done some amazing things like shooting missiles off of aircraft and firing the 20 millimeter cannon at a drogue chute that’s behind another airplane of all things. Pretty incredible experiences around the world, but air force needs and family needs met at a crossroads. And I elected to choose my family, my wife and I have a saying that when you know your values, your decisions are easy.

So I chose my family and that landed me at Gulfstream. And that was my introduction into private aviation. And I absolutely loved it. I traveled the world. I’ve been to some of the most serene environments like Palau, incredibly beautiful, and met wonderful people everywhere. But I enjoyed the time on the ground.

I enjoyed the conversations with people day in and day out about their experiences, their businesses. And I transitioned into sales and sales was a business school case study every day. And I saw an opportunity in the marketplace that said, Glenn, this airplane and the HondaJet is a great platform.

It is perfect for my needs, but at that price point, I just don’t want to buy a whole airplane. Help me find a solution. And as a type A personality, as someone who wanted to sell and be successful, Jet It was formed.

[00:03:04] Natasha: Did you ever think that you would be an entrepreneur owning a company? You definitely knew you were going to do something in aviation, right? So did that ever occur to you?

[00:03:16] Glenn: What’s really interesting is I did not know that’s where I would land, but while I was at Gulfstream, I was trying to prove myself. And I got a couple of graduate degrees, one from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, another from the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina.

And so those are great, but getting into USC or USFC, I wrote a paper called From Cockpits to CEO: A Pilot’s Guide to the C-suite. And I had no idea that it would lead to me becoming an entrepreneur. I was just trying to lead a company and it just so happened to turn out that that pathway that I wrote about turned out to be a pathway to my own company.

[00:03:57] Natasha: And so you’re the CEO. Do you have a co-founder?

[00:04:00] Glenn: I do. I have a co-founder his name is Vishal Hiremath. Vishal and I worked together at Gulfstream. We met by happenstance on the one time that I had an airplane grounded and not working for me that particular day. And we were stuck in his home country of India. And we were stuck together for a week and got to know each other quite well.

And when I was at Honda and I learned that they were opening up the Asia Pacific market, it was an easy call to say, “Hey, my friend, please come join me. Whatever the world looks like in five years will be because you did it.” And so here we are now a few years later, I don’t think we’re quite yet to five, but it’s been a great experience.

Vishal runs our sister company JetClub, which is in operation in Europe based out of Malta, covering all of Europe. And we’re expanding into India and Southeast Asia in the coming months.

[00:04:50] Natasha: That’s amazing. It sounds like the kind of company you have, you really do need to have a partner. And a lot of people that I talked to that are in partnerships, they either love it or it’s gone horribly wrong.

So I personally don’t have a co-founder or partner in my business. It might be a personality also that works in your favor if you’re going to do that partnership. So I wish you both the best. So let’s talk about private jets and what everyone thinks of immediately, right? It’s the millionaire or the billionaire lifestyle.

So how has the industry changed? How can someone like entrepreneurs, busy business people afford to do this?

[00:05:34] Glenn: Yeah, the industry has most certainly changed. I think we see a lot of the glitz and glamor with the celebrities and the big names, because it’s a better story to tell it’s a much better and more fun story to tell than the entrepreneur that goes from one city to the next and from New York to Chicago and Chicago to Dallas, and then back home all in the same day so they can be home for their child’s soccer match that evening. 

That story isn’t as fun as the new rockstar and traveling with their band and whatever they did on the airplane. But that’s the reality of how people travel privately. Our company is based upon the premise that those with means are looking for more autonomy and efficiency in their travel.

An example from a long time ago would be an individual who had means had a horse and carriage versus the person who didn’t was walking. Your means allowed you to feed the horse, buy the horse, keep the horse healthy, build the carriage, or at least afford the parts and pay someone else to build the carriage.

If you don’t have means you can’t do those things. And that’s the autonomy, being able to leave when you want, the efficiency. And Jet It has come about as an innovative business model, we’ve taken advantage of a very unique platform in the HondaJet , that provides the best of everything. It’s fast, it’s efficient, it’s spacious, and it carries a lot of baggage.

Technology, check. Another piece of that is you have to have a market that’s ready for it. History says that the market is waiting for more autonomy and efficiency. It’s inevitable that it must happen. The airlines are no longer as fun as they were 30 years ago. And so the last piece of that is you need an innovative business model.

And our days based solution are $1,600 an hour rate to fly as a share owner is just unmatched. We think those are the makings of a disruptor.

[00:07:35] Natasha:So you just answered the question is how much does it to fly? So you just said $1,600 an hour. First-class ticket on a major airline is what, $3000 minimum?

[00:07:41] Glenn: Absolutely. So it just depends on where you’re going, but if you’re taking a family of four or yourself and three other business partners, having the aircraft, a whole private jet, available to you at your disposal for $1,600 an hour. If you’re going from New York to DC, that’s a one-hour flight. If you’re paying $800 a seat for that to business class or first class, now you’re at $3,200 for the round trip. Guess what? $3,200 for Jet It is the exact same price point. You leave when you want. There’s no TSA. There’s no one coughing or sneezing next to you. There are no fights on the airplane. All of these things that are challenges in today’s environment.

[00:08:21] Natasha: Right? No fights on the airplane. How did we get there? Let’s not talk about that. So Harvard has studied your business model. Why? What is that differentiator that makes them interested in you?

[00:08:34] Glenn: Yeah. I think what they saw in our business model is again, kind of those makings of a disruptor. Gary Pisano, the individual who wrote it, he writes and studies–he’s a tenured professor at Harvard–he writes about disruption and he writes about companies and their ability to scale.

And as he learned about Jet It. I think that’s what he saw. He saw those three pillars of the technology. He saw the market being ready for itm and he thought that our business model was innovative. What we’ve tried to bring about in our model is the sharing economies: they’re great for growth, but they’re not necessarily great for scale.

They’re definitely not great for profitability. In our business model, we consider ourselves, instead of a sharing economy, we consider it more of a symbiotic economy where there’s something for everyone at every level and everyone gets exactly what they need. And so I think that was part of what was different and the story that’s told about our scalability and our symbiosis that we create between the customer, the buyer, the market, and us.

[00:09:37] Natasha: I would have loved to read your case study that they did. I was at Harvard for an entrepreneurial masters program, and it was just mind boggling, how deep they go into each business’ story and the challenges, and you all get to debate on, is it going to work? Did they make the right decision?

And sometimes, I don’t know, have you been at the school when they’re going through your case study and you’re sitting right there and people are like, no, it’ll never work. It’s a horrible idea. And then somebody is no, but it’s time. And you’re still just sitting right there.

[00:10:11] Glenn: It is very uncomfortable that if I were to ever pose nude for an artist, that’s how I think it would feel.

[00:10:19] Natasha: So for me, when I was there, the guy that we were doing the case study was literally sitting behind me and I just felt so cringe. But the good thing about his particular case study, and I’m sure it’s the way for you. 95 of us were debating whether he should do this or not. And of course it turns out the entrepreneur for the case study is way further than where they left off on the case study.

And he got to then walk up and go, “We actually did this and we’re in this market,” and everyone’s oh, we were wrong. So it’s very exciting. And those people at Harvard, I don’t know, I think when they are hired, they’re like told by HR, you must run around the room like a bat outta hell and then maybe even climb up on the ledge and draw, just act crazy.

It’s really fun. Anyway, it’s really such a great medal of honor to hang on your shelf of hardware when Harvard asks to do a case study for you. So that’s really cool.

[00:11:18] Glenn: It’s been a phenomenal experience in our case. We have not been in the classroom. The case was released during the COVID pandemic. I could turn off my camera and cry on the side of the screen.

[00:11:31] Natasha: Did you learn anything from their feedback?

[00:11:34] Glenn: It’s very interesting. I oftentimes mention, as we’re talking to customers or someone who’s interested – well, how’d you get here? And I talk about the various different hats that I wore in building the business model along with Vishal. The first hat of course is my business school hat. Those business school case studies from a sales standpoint that I was having on a daily basis. The next hat was my corporate aviation experience, the operations hat.

And then the third hat is my military experience and the strategy hat. And that’s the part, when you ask the question about learning from the case. That hat taught me how to plan a mission from beginning to last, you have to start that mission with everyone and you have to end that mission with everyone.

In the military, the consequences of failure are very steep. Someone doesn’t get to see their family the next time that you return home. And so in building Jet It and JetClub, that’s the approach that we took and in just about every case. We were actually able to answer the mail for the concerns that other people had.

And we still haven’t disclosed everything to them, but it was encouraging more than anything to know that this uncomfortable situation where people are shooting holes in your baby, if you will, is you’re bullet not, I won’t, I can’t say bulletproof, but you’re a little more resilient to whatever it is they have to say, because you’ve thought of that.

And that’s what we have been fortunate enough to answer at this point in time.

[00:12:59] Natasha: It actually reminded me that my group chose me to create the case study around my business idea and I got to present it. It was much shorter of a situation, but boy was, I like, oh, I’ve got this amazing idea. And then after everyone got done with it… Well, not that it’s not an amazing idea, but do I want to go from an event and entertainment production company to a software SAAS company?

 So we’re lucky to have those experiences and have that kind of feedback. Everyone should be able to have that. The next question I have, when you were looking at strategies for growth this year, maybe it was in fourth quarter of last year, maybe it was in first quarter of this year, was there one main thing that you were really doubling down on to scale and grow this company?

[00:13:46] Glenn: Sure. Our growth in scalability is really focused on value. Our efforts this year were focused on expanding our value in particular with our international operations. Part of this case study talks about us having 60 airplanes in operation, and a lot of the questions that people would ask, “How are you going to scale to 60 airplanes over five years?”

No one thought that we might be expanding outside of the United States. As I mentioned, Vishal runs Jet Club Europe. We use Jet Club because the word “it” just doesn’t translate outside of English as well, but we are in full operation and in total compliance, operating in the EU now and all across Europe.

We are waiting on our first airplane for operations in Canada, and we are expanding into other countries throughout this year and next. So our focus there – our “double down” has been number one, we have to make sure we’re continuing to operate safely and make people happy and making people happy extends beyond just the flights.

It extends further into how do we add more value so that when you’re a European and you’re traveling to Toronto, you still have the same access to our service that you had in Europe. Or if you’re in the US and you’re traveling around Canada, or you’re traveling to India, when you get to those environments, you get a consistent, certain, and an experience that’s the same every single time.

[00:15:11] Natasha: I hate to draw this parallel. It’s the first thing that came to mind, but it’s Starbucks. You have the same experience everywhere you go in the world or that’s what their goal is. That’s hard to do with communication barriers, culture, distribution of the goods. How do you get the same raspberry syrup in Croatia as you can in Seattle?

Like it’s mind blowing. But I think with your discipline and your background, this isn’t simple for you, but it’s a lot easier than it would be for somebody else. I’m assuming.

[00:15:46] Glenn: I certainly hope so. The way we approach it, there are several things that are universal about us as people. And this is globally.

We all want safety, security. We want to be healthy and happy. We want to love and protect those around us. And that’s our foundation when we’re serving our clients, regardless of where it is. It may not be the exact raspberry Coolay that you’re used to. That’s okay. And we’re going to get something as close as possible because we want you to know that we’re in tune with your needs and your interests. And we are thinking about you and we’re acting upon those ideas being proactive about it. So yes, maybe it’s not the same manufacturer, but darn it. We can get really close.

[00:16:28] Natasha: How big is your team of full-time employees?

[00:16:31] Glenn: Really interesting. Number 99 started this week and 100 and 101 start on Monday. It’s been growing. That’s just our US team.

We have seven individuals in Canada and another 28 or so throughout Europe spread out supporting our Jet Club efforts.

[00:16:49] Natasha: So that’s a team. So I would imagine that what you’re trying to do for your clients has to really start with the team with your vision and your core values. And having everyone on the team understand what that future point is for your clients and that’s a whole other challenge.

[00:17:06] Glenn: Yeah, it is a challenge, but Vishal and I recognize that in order for us to grow and to scale, more importantly, we have to make sure that we retain our culture. We consider ourselves allergic to bureaucracy and very much focused on service. Find a way to get it done.

And so to ensure we hold onto our culture, Vishal and I meet with every single person who starts at our company as quickly as we can to introduce them to our culture. As we’re interviewing, there are five C’s that are critical to us. Number one, we want them to be competent, but everyone’s competent when you get a reasonable resume.

We want them to be great Communicators, have Courage. We want them to understand and be willing to expand their Capacity and be Committed to what we’re doing. Be committed to the larger vision. We’re listening for those things in the interview process. And that’s how we make sure we’re hiring the right people. And that’s the beginning of growing, scaling, and maintaining our culture and expanding globally with the same service and purpose.

[00:18:06] Natasha: Okay. So you have that nailed, which is amazing. Not all entrepreneurs do. I would love to see your systems and processes. I think they will probably blow my mind. I’m very system and processes oriented and not all entrepreneurs are, but seriously, I’d love to give my hands on that. So right today, as we speak, you had your 99 employees start, you’re going to have a hundred and 101. You have many jets. You have a business partner. You have a global business.

So you have success, but success and entrepreneurship doesn’t come without challenges. So what is the one challenge you’re working on right now, trying to overcome in your business today?

[00:18:47] Glenn: There are several challenges. You talk about process and as we’re growing, we’ve had a lot of heroes and sheroes who have been answering the mail to get things done.

But when you add more people that doesn’t work as our customer base grows, that doesn’t work. So refine that internal knowledge, we have to take it and put it into a written form so that the person who’s just starting can answer those. Instead of us putting out fires, let’s put together a line, a bucket line, instead of running back and forth with one or two buckets.

And so we’ve got to do a better job with our processes and that’s our focus right now. We are exploring and doing a lot with data analytics to make sure we understand everything that’s going on within our business so that we can start. We’ve been profitable and we expect to continue to be profitable and wildly so, hopefully.

But those things require a refinement. And so we’re focused on continually improving through data, through establishing better processes.

[00:19:48] Natasha: Good for you. It’s a challenge, but it’s fun.

[00:19:50] Glenn: Having a blast. Absolutely.

[00:19:51] Natasha: That’s amazing. So what is your marketing strategy? Are you digital marketers? Are you in organizations? How do people learn about your company?

[00:20:02] Glenn: Yeah, most of our marketing is accomplished by word of mouth. Our customers travel in very small circles. And if we can make them happy, they’ll tell their friends, how did you get to this vacation experience? How did you get away from the stress that you were telling me about?

Oh, I Jet It. I started with this company Jet It. And so our marketing is through social media, but most of our clients don’t know who we are until they’ve heard from someone else. Or maybe they experience us through a charter flight. But we do very little marketing, intentionally so. We believe that a high value is the best marketing you can do.

[00:20:40] Natasha: Interesting. I wonder how that’s going to change for you in five to 10 years as you really grow. It could be that you do even less, or it could be that you really have a full throttled marketing and advertising campaign. Who knows, right?

[00:20:54] Glenn: Yeah. We expect it to evolve. We expect to have to reach out and tell our story.

But one of the ways that we love telling our story is by giving back, by participating in a number of philanthropic efforts. By offering our services to those organizations. We’ve raised over $750,000 now in funds going towards these organizations and nonprofits. We offer our services to a number of nonprofits that use private aviation and our owners can gift their days to those organizations, Be The Match and Veterans Airlift.

In fact, I think we have a Be The Match flight in the coming days. And Pilots N Paws. So it’s just a tremendous way to share our story and to make a positive contribution in the process.

[00:21:42] Natasha: Glenn talked about how he founded Jet It, why Harvard chose to study his business model, and just how much it costs to fly on a private jet.

For more information on Glenn, go to the show notes where you’re listening to this podcast.

For more information about me, go to my website, natashamiller.co. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you loved the show. If you did, please subscribe. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, please leave a review where you’re listening to this podcast now. I’m Natasha Miller and you’ve been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

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