Kanika Tekriwal: the woman who introduced India’s ascent into the jet industry

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Due to business opportunities, you have to fly all over the world to conquer the most out of your day. However, with so many commitments in work, and traveling, giving time to your family becomes impossible. What if we told you that you could easily travel from one place to another in no time and have time for everything you want? Sounds too far-fetched and ambition, you say! Well, here is where the entrepreneur model of Kanika Tekriwal comes into pace. Kanika introduced her start-up into the industry of the jet with the name, JetSetGo. She likes to call it the Uber of the skies.

During an interview when she was asked about her project and why she started it she said, ‘I would meet a number of people using private jets who complained that booking one in India was a very shoddy experience and they felt cheated that the entire private jet experience is a far cry from traveling business or first. At the same time, private jet owners were selling planes due to the escalating costs, regular maintenance, and other hindrances as well as not getting the real pleasure of actually owning an aircraft. The determination for JetSetGo came up in a conversation I had with a colleague in the UK. I narrated an idea that I had about setting up a thriving aviation company, born in India. It was not aimed at making my colleague laugh out loud, but that’s what happened. Being Indian and adamant, I was determined to prove him, and everybody else that thought along the same lines, wrong.’

Her venture started in the year 2014, and she had an aim to cater to a wide clientele. However, her basic catering audience was the business owners who had the urge to cover almost three to four cities in a single day due to work and family. Other than that, she also focussed on tourists, inbound and outbound both, pilgrimage tourists, emergency evacuations, and more.

In an interview with Your Story, she said, ‘Their need partly arose from a very crucial fact about Indian aviation: India has 200 airports and airstrips that are fully functional, but only 80 of them are connected by commercial airlines. Unfortunately, then, a majority of private aircraft in India did not serve their full potential because of the lack of a structured system that allows owners to be part of the private aviation business. JetSetGo is a solution to all these inadequacies and roadblocks. Every day you wake up with 100 new problems and go to sleep having solved 50 of them. What seemed difficult a year ago is now a joke and gets done in a jiffy. Similarly, every small and big victory is my biggest success, getting excellent feedback from a customer is success, getting a plane repaired before target time is a success, having a happy time is a success, showing 7X growth with excellent EBIDTA is a success, just building JetSetGo the way we are is a success.’

However, her journey was not easy as well. there was the problem of investment, financial costing, and so much more. however, she shares her experience about the same and mentions, ‘I started out with only $100 in my pocket and worked my way up from there. I was very lucky to have had a network of individuals who had faith in me, and they gave us a steady demand for a few months. Thankfully, we never had to go out and look for funding — it always came to us on its own. Customers turned into investors wanting to be part of the story. The company now has a team of 70 employees, who manages, and operates privately owned aircraft that double up as our fleet.’

Being a woman, she got mixed reviews about her work about which she says, ‘I’ve definitely received far too many backhanded compliments and prejudiced comments that have all implied that I don’t belong in this space. The intensity of the corporate world’s glass ceiling first hit me when I was in a boardroom filled with over 100 men. I was, to my surprise, the only woman in the room. When I spoke, the men did feel intimidated. Another example would be how someone in the leadership position of an association I am a part of constantly chooses to overlook and ignore me, addressing me with strange names such as ‘kid’ because he just can’t accept the fact that a girl can be a part of this all-boys club. As a country, we have to include more women in top-level positions and recognize the impact they can have on our economy. That won’t happen unless the decision-makers in our country’s biggest firms put effective bias-abating procedures into place.’

In every industry you have to work very hard and also face all kinds of critical challenges and so did she about which she shared, ‘It’s almost as if some of these firms never grew out of the 1960s (I can imagine Don Draper walking out of one of these infamous office spaces). Secondly, there exists a dearth of women in decision-making positions. When the individuals at the top — who are mostly men — call the shots, there is a likelihood that the first CVs to be chucked in the bin all belong to women, for numerous reasons. Lastly, women lack the resources, training, and mentorship necessary to truly make it and survive in the corporate world. We practice gender equality through strict rules and regulations separate to national legislation. For us, it’s not just about the superficial, squeaky clean brand image — it’s about real, actionable change. So, whether it’s equal remuneration for equal work or the removal of barriers that inhibit the participation of women in the workplace, we ensure that our spaces are inclusive, inviting, and intellectually stimulating. We are also incredibly proud to be the first aviation company ever to ensure that a female pilot is on board all of our flights.’

Her only aim in life with her business is world domination. Keeping in mind higher dreams, she started in a spectacular way and is not in any mood to finish off any soon. All she wishes is to reach the sky. The quote. ‘aim for the moon and you will land in the stars’ surely suits her. However, she definitely has the caliber to land on the moon.

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