While we often come across stories about startups and the people behind them; their beginnings struggles and finally, their success or failures. While most of this stories are in the category of inspiring reads, only a handful satiate our thirst to see limits of human endeavor. One such story is of Kanika Tekriwal, a cancer survivor who founded ‘Jet Set Go’, India’s first marketplace for chartered jets or what it can be called, ‘the Uber of the skies’. Last year, Tekriwal made it to the coveted Forbes 30 under 30 lists whereas, in 2015, she was one of the seven Indians on BBC’s list of 100 most inspiring women.
These feats certainly take her beyond the hoi-polloi of start-up biggies. Her venture ‘JetSetGo’ is a digital platform enabling customers to reserve their own private jets and helicopters that currently covers around 250 domestic and international airports with an annual turnover of Rs 60 crores.
Cancer breaks even the toughest, but she utilized that ordeal and came out with an idea which got shape in form of JetSetGo. But cancer and her battling it isn’t something she aspires to scores some brownie points with. Instead, she considers it as just a phase and despite being tough, it provided her time to think and materialize her passion for being a part of the aviation industry.
She Always Aspired To Be In The Aviation Industry
Tekriwal hails from Bhopal, a town which remains sleepy even today when remote villages of India are awakening to the dawn of modernity. “I always wanted to be part of the aviation industry and thankfully I had worked in the same at the tender age of 17 in 2007 which aggravated my interest and gave me enough exposure to learning the nuances of it. Later I went to the UK to do MBA which further enhanced my entrepreneur skills,” Kanika Tekriwal Who currently employees 60 people told IndiaTimes.
Aviation much like all other profession is male-dominated and Kanika was aware of it right from the beginning, “ Doing a job in aviation and being a women entrepreneur are two different things. Though you find women in plenty in industry and majority of them are employees and not the employers. Being a woman employer in aviation is indeed a tough task. When I told my parents about my dream, they were drop-dead against it. But I was adamant and when they saw a little success and passion of their daughter, they supported me,” added Kanika, who is 27 now and has seen the fair share of struggle in life.
Cancer Gave Her The Idea Of ‘JetSetGo’
Kanika was 22 in 2011 when she was diagnosed with cancer and though early doctors didn’t offer hope, she did not give up till she found her way back to health. “It was indeed a blow. But I refused to give up. It took nine months of rigorous treatment with help of chemotherapy that cured me. Yes, that time was tough, but the best part of that time was that on one hand, it tested me beyond my limits, on the other hand, it gave me time to think about what I have to with my life because I knew I won’t surrender and recover from this phase,” added Kanika.
Kanika thought about JetSetGo from her soul while her body was busy getting cured. “I knew I will triumph over this disease and that’s why to have full attention to business I was destined to do once back on my feet,” added Kanika.
JetSetGo Started In 2014
They often call it ‘Uber of the skies’ but it’s is yet come to that level as comparing Uber ride to flying in a chartered plane would be too demeaning for this luxury only a handful can afford. “I got some fantastic people, cement baron Puneet Dalmia and cricketer Yuvraj Singh are to name a few who landed a helping hand and invested in this venture. It came into being in early 2014 and within just a short span of time, we broke even. And today we are a profit making start-up,” added Kanika.
“The corporate houses are our main focus as they are the ones who charter most of our services. Though we offer our services to individuals as well, the number of individual customers isn’t very high. We boast of having the country’s largest fleet of private jets at its disposal as well as helicopters. Customers can avail the flight for a variety of purposes, from destination weddings to medical emergencies,” explained Kanika. With currently 80 % domestic business, she hopes to go global.
“Though we already are global depending on the customers who ask for jets for international destinations. We have provided jets for a various international destination such as New York etc. But currently, the majority, nearly 80 percent, of our business comes from domestic travels. Our focus is to cater to the $18 billion rapidly growing inbound travel market. And to the travel needs of the Indians. Who is expected to get triple in number in the next 5 years,” added Kanika.
Flying Will Get Cheaper One Day
If we go back to 1990s when mobile phones came to India. It was a luxury than with only high and might have access to it. But with time, telephony became cheaper and it turned into a revolution that has contributed heavily to transforming India. Today, almost 900 million Indians have mobile phones and the number is increasing at a pace, one can’t even imagine.
Flying and that too though private jet is indeed a luxury today. And the only cream of the country can afford it. But Kanika believes that much like telephony, flying with private jets would one day not only become affordable. But people would fly in their own planes.
What She Had To Say
“The very thought of having a chartered plane gives one a feeling which is beyond imagination. Affording a chartered plane is indeed a matter of luxury today. But probably after a century when we all would have gone to dust and bones. People will own their own jets. And I am talking about people with decent earning and not the high and mighty. I believe time will come that in India too.
Planes and that too private jets would become modes of travel for many Indians. And not only that handful whom we envy,” signed off Kanika with a making believe that old proverb. ‘Where there is a will, there is a way’ isn’t just a proverb after all.
I’m sure you are too inspired by this lady now. She is a real hero. A fighter and an inspiration to many! Don’t give up, life has a lot more for you. Being a cancer victim, when she can, why can’t you? Meet Anand, India’s own Arnold who overcame cancer to become Mr.India. Read more here.