On November 10th 2016, we hosted Rob Wiesenthal, the founder and CEO of the luxury "Uber-for-helicopters" aviation start-up BLADE. Some highlights from the event:
What are different trends you are seeing in your industry?
People don’t want to talk to people when they transact. There’s too much friction. For your generation, you want instant gratification. You don’t want to talk to anyone. Are you going to talk to someone on the phone to order food or use Seamless?
People use Blade half for the experience and half to get from point A to point B. Your generation is much more interested in paying for an experience than paying for things. We have no-door flights and we fly during the SuperMoon, because everyone wants to be an Instagram God. We’re the first company that goes beyond just taking people places.
What are some pros and cons of not owning your helicopters?
We own nothing. We have our brand. We have some sippy-cups and lighters, but that's it. It allows us flexibility on the type of equipment we use. When there were rules in East Hampton about noise decibels, we could switch out our fleet within weeks. And our competitors who owned could not do that.
The downside is that we sometimes don’t get the equipment we want. But now that we’re one of the biggest customers of the fleet providers, we usually get what we want.
The issue with owning is you have to worry about maintenance and regulation.
What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?
It was a little bit different for me because BLADE was a project I incubated. I didn’t really realize it was a start-up until it started doing well. It’s very important to have a singular mission. If it can’t be described in one sentence, it becomes clear the mission hasn’t been well-defined. Do one thing great.
If it feels like work, it’s not the right project. You’re probably in the wrong business.