Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello, my name is Irakli Litanishvili and I am a co-founder of a group of companies called Aim of Emperor that operates in three niches: aviation, fuel & ground handling, and IT. One of the recent additions is Mirai Flights, where I stand as CEO & co-founder.
Mirai Flights is a service for instant booking private jets with price transparency and handy one-click payment. With a focus on the UK, Europe, Middle East, and the CIS states. Mirai Flights connects clients to private jets, offering a suitable time and place of departure with an option to choose the class of the aircraft, price, number of passengers, comfort level, and a payment of up to €300.000 in one click. Founded in 2021, Mirai Flights aims to change the flyers' purchasing habits and save time. Its founders’ expertise is manifested by successful businesses in private aviation.
Mirai’s mission can be split into two sides:
- Disrupting the business aviation niche by offering a better, faster way for customers to access private jet flights.
- Making aviation more eco-friendly by creating an empty-leg flight booking system that reduces resource waste.
Our biggest selling point is our fantastic internal algorithms. We have AI that instantly calculates flight routes, prices, and necessary travel details so that customers can get fast, up-to-date travel arrangements. On the client side, this means price transparency, instant booking, and significant cost savings.
Our business model is changing how and when people fly.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Together with my partners, I own a group of aviation and transportation-related companies, and we saw an unfulfilled demand in the private aviation sector.
My partner and I originally thought of building an air taxi company that pooled our resources (my fleet of aircraft and his business aviation experience). As our idea developed, we realized that our true value lay in our ability to streamline and digitalize the private aviation experience.
People wanted a one-click, user-friendly experience like Uber or Hotels.com, but for private jets. With this in mind, we added transparent pricing, refined our offerings, and came up with a unique value proposition that allowed us to take off.
As for my background, I actually sort of fell into the aviation industry by accident. I obtained my bachelor's degree in Georgia and later got a master's degree in international business through the Newcastle Business School. To pursue my career in England, I applied for a Highly Skilled Migrant Programme, which enabled highly skilled people to immigrate to the UK for employment or self-employment opportunities.
I moved to London and started my career from scratch, initially looking for a job in investment banking and successfully passing the interviews at Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank. When I got the offers, I couldn’t decide. At the same time, I happened to attend a networking event where I met a headhunter looking for a salesperson for a small brokerage company that handled aircraft, helicopter, and yacht rentals for the wealthy.
Initially, I was in sales, which turned out to be an incredibly interesting business for me. We had a KPI that each of us had to sell £50,000 worth of services, but in the first month alone I was able to sell £350,000 worth without any personal contact with the customers. I think my experience in selling insurance products in Georgia helped me because selling an insurance policy is the hardest thing to do. Within a year I settled in and started working as a partner with famous airlines.
A year later, I visited my first trade show in Geneva and got 3 job offers from the airlines where I bought flights for my clients. After accepting one of these offers, I moved to Moscow to work as a company representative. I had always been keen to get to Moscow and see how business was organized in Russia and what opportunities there were for growth.
In 2008, I flew to Moscow for the first time to develop the business. However 2008 turned out to be a difficult year, because of the crisis, and many people stopped using charter flights. Airlines were losing the ability to provide aircraft because there was not enough demand, they had to give up the aircraft they had leased. Then I had an idea, which I proposed to the founders of the English company: why not transform the charter airline business into an asset management business. We had a lot of information — what the prices were, what to buy, how to buy it and, combining all this, we could make direct offers to the aircraft owners, suggesting they give their aircraft to our company for management.
My proposal received support from the management. Within two years, with a team of 3–4 people, we brought 15 aircraft under our management. It was a huge success, and I was completely drawn into aviation.
At the age of 30, together with my team, I decided to create my own company and start on the path to becoming an aviation entrepreneur. Today we have a group of companies Called Aim of Emperor that operates in three niches: aviation, fuel & ground handling, and IT.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
There has been a trend toward digitalization and efficiency in the travel sector as a whole. Apps like Uber, Wheely, and others have become staples for anyone who still has to travel during the pandemic. We are leveraging this app-forward trend to get Mirai's digital booking into the hands of more people.
Our second goal is to make the entire aviation sector more sustainable and eco-friendly. Empty-leg flights (flights with no cargo or passengers) account for at least 25 percent of all business jet flights. This translates to roughly a million tons or more of CO2 emissions in a single year. If we can reduce empty-leg flights, we can eliminate a significant amount of waste and pollution.
To realize these goals we have invented a tech solution to a manual algorithm in business aviation. Booking a private jet is a very long and detailed process that is still performed by a dozen specialists, while what we have introduced to the market makes it an almost 100% automated IT solution. The idea of Mirai Flights was put down in several possible business models. Then we proceeded with the MVP, which contained key functions and solved client problems, and launched in February 2021.
Imagine you need to book a private jet. In most cases you put a request through your manager or a booking system, then wait for the reply. Your request then gets to the system managers who hold a tender, use various tools to see available planes and routes, call the operators, send out applications, collect proposals. This work results in a commercial offer sent to the client hours after his request. Then the client takes time to make up his mind. When he finally replies, managers check the availability of the offer again (which may have changed) and only then draw up a contract while putting pre-order on the flight. The whole process may take up to 6 hours.
In the Mirai Flights app, you can do the same process in a max of 8 minutes. First of all, you don’t need to send requests - you just put your destination and choose the best option while all the rest is done automatically - more than 30 parameters are analyzed in less than 30 seconds.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We launched in February 2021 with a Mirai Flights app and a website, offering our loyal customers to give it a try. Then word-of-mouth worked and we started seeing more registrations monthly.
Our website has the same platform as our app and we’re currently working on adding some new features like blogging to it.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since launch, we've mostly attended aviation industry events and used traditional PR tools. However, we've recently been developing a new marketing strategy that involves gathering user analytics and beta testing opinions.
The most important thing for us is to know what clients want from our product, so we regularly interview users for feedback and improvements. We know that all businesses need some level of marketing, but our main focus is to create such a seamless, innovative product that it ultimately speaks for itself.
Founders should always work to help their employees be self-sufficient both personally and professionally.
Also, in all of our companies, we focus on building customer relationships and fostering a mutual sense of loyalty. It's common for businesses to try to "pass the buck" whenever something goes wrong, and it's always at the expense of the client. We don't do that. We always go the extra mile to get our customers to their destination, even if it costs us time or income in the short term. Customers know they can trust us, so they aren't tempted to switch to a competitor.
We are working on a loyalty program for our customers, but now we rely on a competitive pricing model and high-end customer service to maintain our client base.
As for social media - it is essentially our business card. Since we're the "new kids," everyone checks out our social media and reviews first. We keep our profiles up-to-date and stay active on our blog and in the news so that people can see that we're working hard to establish ourselves. We also use platforms like Instagram to showcase destinations and entice people to want to learn more about traveling to new places.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today we are working on new partnerships and investing in the analysis of our customers. Mirai Flights is a B2C branch of an LLJets company that has been providing B2B services. In 2021 LLJets completed 897 flights, processed more than 3,000 requests with a turnover of €35 million. From March to December 2021 Mirai Flights completed 180 flights with a turnover of 4 365 200 USD and added 23 planes to the system. In 2022 we plan to increase our turnover up to 10 215 000 USD and increase the number of our planes up to 60.
Next up for us is expanding into at least 5 percent of the European business jet market and entering the U.S. market within the next two years.
We also plan for Mirai to keep growing internationally. We want to offer our services across America, the Middle East, and Asia. We will perform transcontinental flights via the app and continue to lead the sector as well. In the next 5-10 years, however, we expect the private jet industry to be transformed into an accessible and affordable air taxi niche.
In the future, we also plan to go for an IPO.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I strongly believe that founders should always work to help their employees be self-sufficient both personally and professionally. If my team is spending so much time at work, I think they should get as much as possible from that time. You need differently skilled people who share your passion and goals, and you need to help them grow to remain successful. Don't hesitate to add someone stronger than you to your team.
Remember that it's often best to share power. When you have other strong team members, keep them invested in the game by giving them the autonomy to do the job in a way that plays to their strengths.
Staying in touch is the most critical part of fostering success. For me, employees are an extension of my family, so it's my job to be the "head of household" and be proactive in communication, whether this is praise or discipline. I encourage my teams to become close and create a support network for each other. Nobody feels isolated, and everyone knows that it's possible to come to me or a colleague when they need personal or professional support.
Building this kind of loyalty infuses teams with a passion to perform well because they feel a deeper sense of purpose than just collecting a paycheck.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use a platform/app we have developed ourselves. Booking a private flight is a process that typically requires human specialists every step of the way. Mirai Flights has invented a brand-new tech solution in the form of an artificial intelligence algorithm that takes care of these steps automatically.
Our app allows customers to bypass the long wait times that the traditional private booking firms must take because it eliminates the need for multiple "middlemen."
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
If I could list 2 books that guided me through the management routine they will be:
- Ruthless Management of People and Profits by Dan Kennedy
- Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
More than anything else, you have to understand the fundamentals of your field. If you're not an expert in at least a few areas of your field, you can't succeed.
Beyond that, it's essential to believe in what you're doing. You can't only be in it to make a profit. This is a recipe for burnout and failure.
To be a truly successful entrepreneur, you need to be passionate about what you're doing, knowledgeable enough to make it happen, and humble enough to surround yourself with a team of experts who can help you go further than you would ever get on your own.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are currently looking for 5-6 full-time Senior/Lead PHP developers who are fluent in PHP, MySQL, Git, Linux, Docker, with 5+ years of experience. You can apply by sending your resume to [email protected]
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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