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After StumbleUpon and Uber, Garrett Camp Goes Airborne
 

This week, serial entrepreneur Garrett Camp launches a start-up called BlackJet. Think Uber for private jets.

Garrett Camp, StumbleUpon

Courtesy Subject

Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon

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When Garrett Camp co-founded Uber in 2009, he set out to infuse a Silicon Valley ethos into the black car industry. Now, with the launch of a mobile transportation service called BlackJet, Camp wants to bring the same mantra to private jets.

“There’s an opportunity here to use strong mobile technology, customer support and branding to create a more elegant air travel experience,” Camp said.

BlackJet, which launched this week, will allow jetsetters to purchase short-distance or cross-country tickets on the 3,000 to 4,000 private jets already operating but lacking full capacity.  The start-up is Camp’s third endeavor after StumbleUpon and Uber.

Tickets on inaugural BlackJet routes from New York to Los Angeles or New York to Florida will cost $3,500, and shorter routes and additional destinations will launch shortly, Camp said. In addition, an annual membership fee will cost close to $2,500.

BlackJet already has some pretty eye-catching investors, including Ashton Kutcher, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment. Camp, who said he is the single largest investor in BlackJet, wouldn’t disclose financial details, but The Wall Street Journal earlier reported the seed round to be worth “single-digit millions.”

In order to gain industry knowledge, Camp brought out two co-founders including CEO Dean Rotchin, who has over ten years of experience in aviation sales. But BlackJet isn’t the only company attempting to capitalize on the private jet market.

Evo Jet Services, JetSuite, and Surf Air have all entered the marketplace in the past two years, and Warren Buffett-owned NetJets launched its private jet rental and partial ownership service more than 25 years ago.

So how does BlackJet differentiate itself? Efficiency, according to Camp.

“NetJets is great but it’s such a premium service that it’s out of reach for all but a few people and services like Surf Air and JetSuite are buying planes,” Camp said. “The idea with BlackJet is that you can put out a request at the airport and be on a plane in a matter of minutes.”

While Camp said BlackJet’s target audience will be “serious travelers” who would otherwise fly business class, he added that BlackJet, like Uber, will be promoted not through mass marketing but by word-of-mouth and creative campaigns.

“We want people to have no problem inviting their friends but it’s not like we’re trying to get 100 million users,” Camp said.

Camp continues to operate as a chairman of both StumbleUpon and Uber.

IMAGE: Joshua Davis via Flickr
Last updated: Oct 26, 2012

MATTHEW WONG is a digital journalist whose work has also appeared in Dow Jones VentureWire and The Wall Street Journal.
@mlcwong




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