Five months since its formal launch and with growth slightly ahead of plan, Clive Jackson, founder and CEO of the business jet sharing service Victor is finalizing the startup’s financing and growth plans.
At current growth rates, the business that so far is focused on Europe could reach break-even in the first quarter of next year, but the company is eyeing expansion into the U.S. and Asia-Pacific, which would require additional capital and delay reaching the break-even target, Jackson says. The business plan calls for the U.S. expansion to take place this year.
Although he will not disclose the absolute number of transactions going through the system since the formal launch on Aug. 13, Jackson says the growth has been stronger than expected. Victor is designed as an online tool to allow users to charter a business jet online and, also, sell some of the seats to other members.
Jackson, who financed the initial development using his own capital, this year is likely to pursue two fund-raising rounds. The first will be focused on members and others close to the business to help expand the European focus to grow membership. That is likely to be followed by an appeal to U.S. institutional investors to help launch the foray into the U.S.
Elements of the U.S. expansion plan remain to be defined. Among them is whether Victor will pursue the market on its own, or partner with an established business.
Also still under review is whether the U.S. will be the primary target of the expansion effort this year. Jackson, who is bullish on Asian growth, is interested in pursuing that market perhaps in parallel with the U.S. thrust.
In terms of the business performance so far, Jackson says around 70% of customers chartering through Victor are putting seats up for sale and that in around 25% of those cases, some of those seats are placed with other customers. Victor takes a cut of the seat sales price.
Seats can be sold at a fixed cost, or several can be offered on a “fare value” basis where the price depends on how many seats are sold. The fixed-cost model is dominating, though.
Jackson says he will also share with operators information the business gathers over time concerning customer behavior and attractive routes to help them position aircraft. The goal is to increase volume of activity, which in turn drives Victor’s revenue.