Alex Wilcox: CEO & Founder of JetSuite

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With over two decades of experience in creating highly innovative air carriers in ways that have improved air travel for millions, Alex Wilcox now serves as CEO of JetSuite – a private jet airline which launched operations in 2009.  In co-founding JetSuite in 2006, Alex brought new technology and unprecedented value to an industry in dire need of it.  JetSuite is a launch customer for the Embraer Phenom 100, an airplane twice as efficient and more comfortable than other jets performing its missions.  Also a founder of JetBlue, Alex was a driving force behind many airline industry changing innovations, including the implementation of LiveTV on board and all leather coach seating.  Alex was also named a Henry Crown Fellow by the Aspen Institute.

How did you get into the private aviation industry?

I came full circle - everyone in aviation more or less starts in private aviation - flying the little training airplanes we call bug smashers - and went on to work at Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, JetBlue and a few others. When Embraer built the Phenom 100 I saw a chance to build a better business around its efficiency.

What inspired the idea for JetSuite and how has your vision evolved if so?

Our vision has always been the same - to make the thrill of private jet travel available to more people than ever. Practically everyone at JetSuite loves to fly or travel (usually both!) and we believe in freedom and efficiency. We know travel can be better and we all work hard everyday to make it so. 

(Photo Credit: Jessica Ambats)

What trends are you noticing in the aviation industry and how does JetSuite capitalize on them?

There are lots of people who have been trying to make the "Uber for Jets" for a while now, but no one, including us, has figured out yet how to make the convenience of private flying truly affordable. JetSuite pioneered the "SuiteDeal" selling our empty flights for $500 and in the process accrued more social media fans than all our competiros combined. Now we have something far more exciting up our sleeve to realize our vision, but we aren't ready to disclose it yet!

Your greatest successes as CEO of Jetsuite?

Top without a doubt is assembling a team of people with perseverance and enthusiasm who bring energy like crazy to work every day. It takes a big team to fly the worlds most successful people in the worlds fastest machines and we have the best team in the business.

Next, the team achieved the highest safety rating the US a few years ago (ARGUS Platinum) and they recently achieved IS-BAO registration, the world class standard.

Finally, we just learned that according to ARGUS we are already the 4th largest Part 135 (air charter) company in the United States in terms of annual hours flown. Pretty good for just 4 years in the business.

(Photo Credit: Jessica Ambats)

What advice would you give an aspiring entrepreneur?

It's not all about the funding; it's about being organized, staying motivated, and working collaboratively. If it were only about having the money, Google would be running every business. Be collaborative in as much as you can - ask everyone in your company what they think, even if it drives their bosses crazy. No matter how smart you think you are, don't even think about trying to do it all.

Your favorite type of aircraft and why?

The Phenom 100 is unmatched in terms of reliability and efficiency.  A bigger or faster jet does you no good if it breaks down all the time. Reliability is key and Embraer is nailing it.

(Photo Credit: Jessica Ambats)

If there were one food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

I like eggs, so they are in both my choices - My mother's home made Baked Alaska & the White Linen cocktail at the Crosby Bar in Soho.

Favorite travel destination?  

One I haven't been to yet. Arriving somewhere new is like unwrapping a gift.

(Photo Credit: Jessica Ambats)

Role model - business and personal?

In business I have many and I am lucky enough to have convinced some of them to join the board at JetSuite. Herb Kelleher is my all time favorite - a happy, humble warrior, and one of the most articulate people I've ever met.

Personally, I'm inspired by Buzz Aldrin, a living legend who overcame an addiction to achieve post-lunar success. Even today he is still advocating for his cause - a manned mission to mars, which by the way I fully support!

Life Motto? 

Illegitimi non carborundum.

What's next for JetSuite? 

More growth, and in 2015 we are going to fulfill our vision in an exciting new way.