The New First Class
By Roger Grody
Sergey Petrossov is making private jets more accessible through JetSmerter, the Uber for jet-setters.
Long reserved for Fortune 500 CEOs and celebrities, traveling by private jet is suddenly becoming more accessible to the masses, thanks to an innovative blend of technology and aviation called JetSmarter. The tireless energy of 27-year-old Sergey Petrossov, the company’s founder, Chairman and CEO, has fueled remarkable growth of JetSmarter since its initial launch in 2012.
With the JetSmarter application installed on your smartphone, ordering a private jet for a business or leisure flight is as easy as arranging an Uber trip across town. Like Uber, the company’s growth has been astonishing, with 15-20 percent user growth per month since its inception.
Born in Moscow but raised in South Florida, Petrossov was recently recognized in Forbes’ elite “30 Under 30” roster in the consumer technology category. Prior to founding JetSmarter, he created two other IT ventures, one a website customer service chat system, the other a distance-learning platform for Russian-speaking educational institutions. His service as a board advisor to a South Florida private jet operator — at the time it was the largest on-demand charter fleet of Gulfstream aircraft — introduced Petrossov to an industry desperate for innovation. It inspired him to use his technology expertise to improve the current system of booking a private jet, which he knew from personal experience was obsolete.
“JetSmarter is a technology company at heart, not an aviation company, as we don’t own any private jets,” says Petrossov, explaining that his company partners with operators around the world to provide customers access to more than 3,200 aircraft. Through the JetSmarter app, the company offers instant pricing and availability for private jets around the globe, allowing users to book flights themselves, directly through their smartphones. “It’s a unique business model, unlike any other private jet venture,” insists Petrossov, who adds, “JetSmarter is the only private travel service company to operate by way of an innovative app technology.”
Petrossov attributes his success to an unrelenting focus on his vision, as well as surrounding himself with exceptional people. JetSmarter boasts a management and advisory team with more than 100 years of experience in private air travel and a record of project development for organizations like Microsoft, NASA, and Mercedes-Benz. JetSmarter also has some high profile investors, including Jay Z and the Saudi Royal Family, but Petrossov maintains it’s the product, not his salesmanship, that closes deals. “All of our investors used our product before they became investors. They saw the value of our business model firsthand, so it was the quality of the product that drew them in,” he says.
Petrossov reports his clientele is diverse, expanding private jet travel beyond the usual stereotypes. “Our typical customer is a self-made entrepreneur, but we have flyers from every walk of life: executives who want to spend more time with their families, people who don’t want to deal with TSA pat-downs, and college students who just want the experience of traveling on a private jet.”
Petrossov is now aggressively pursuing expansion for JetSmarter, stating, “We’re currently focusing on countries where there’s enough supply to satisfy demand.” Given the company’s global expansion, the young CEO reports, “I travel a lot,” and reveals his favorite cities are New York, Singapore, London, and Dubai. While Petrossov’s wanderlust never wanes, he concedes his very best times are spent at home in Boca Raton with his family.