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Friday, April 19, 2024

Kanika Tekriwal fought cancer before building Rs 150cr aviation business Jetsetgo

Kanika Tekriwal formed an aviation business starting on Uber model. Jetsetgo is now a Rs 150crore turnover business.

Kanika Tekriwal’s story is an example of the saying: You join the ranks of high flyers when you dare to dream big. Kanika survived cancer and entered the Indian field of aviation business without owning a single aircraft nine years ago.

Her plan to launch a charter aircraft business using an aggregator model similar to Ola and Uber inspired Kanika to establish Delhi-based Jetsetgo Aviation Services Private Limited.

Kanika explains, “I invested Rs 5600 in developing an app to book chartered flights.”

To run the business for the first two years, I took advances from clients and credit from vendors.

I also provided consulting and advised people on the purchase of aeroplanes based on their specific requirements.”

Sudheer Perla, a chartered accountant and Oxford management graduate, became a co-founder of the company in 2014.

Kanika has had to fight many battles to get to where she is now. Kanika survived cancer nine years ago and resurrected herself by launching Jetsetgo. In Bhopal, she was born into a Marwari business family. Maruti dealerships were owned by the family all over the country.

Kanika’s father, Anil Tekriwal, started a real estate business after the family business was divided. Sunita, her mother, is a housewife, and she has a younger brother named Kanishk.

Kanika was admitted to Lawrence School, Lovedale, Ooty, in Class 4 at the age of seven.

She was the youngest child in the class at a residential school.

She returned to Bhopal after Class 10 and graduated from Jawaharlal Nehru School in 2005 with a Class 12 in commerce. She then relocated to Mumbai to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication and Designing at the BD Somani Institute (2005-08). 

She also started working part-time.  She also worked in the designing department of India Bulls’ real estate division while in college. She was later transferred to the company’s aviation section, where she met many people in the aviation industry.

When she graduated in 2008, her parents told her that she could either continue her education or marry.

Kanika explains, “This happened in December, and in January 2009, I enrolled in a one-year MBA programme at Coventry University in the United Kingdom. My parents, I believe, have always steered me in the right direction, even if their decisions at times appeared harsh.”

In the UK, she maintained her ties to the aviation industry by landing a job at Aerospace Resources while also pursuing her MBA.

Kanika says she learned how things work in an international airline, and it was in that company that the concept for Jetsetgo was conceived.

She returned to the UK after completing her MBA. But in 2011, she got a big surprise when she found out she had cancer.

Kanika, who was only 23 years old at the time, says, “I came home right away because I wanted to be with my parents. They were extremely supportive, acted as a nurse to me, and made me their top priority; it is only because of them that I survived. Once I decided to fight, I began reading motivational books by Lance Armstrong, who also suffered cancer, but fought it sucessfully. His words inspired and energised me. I recovered after 12 chemotherapy sessions and a year of radiation.”

Kanika founded Jetsetgo shortly after recovering from cancer, and the company has since grown to a Rs 150 crore turnover. Jetsetgo employs approximately 200 people and has offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Hyderabad.  The company purchased its own fleet of eight aircraft last year.

Kanika says, “In 2020-21, the company will handle 1 lakh passengers and operate 6000 flights. Our clients are mostly corporations, celebrities, politicians, and important people. We provide charter flights ranging in size from a six-seater to an 18-seater plane. Our busiest routes are Delhi-Mumbai, Mumbai-Bengaluru, and Hyderabad-Delhi. Approximately 5% of our flights are used for medical emergencies.”

Jetsetgo is one of the companies that has grown despite the overall negative impact of the pandemic on the economy.

Kanika claims, “During the COVID lockdown, no employees were laid off or their pay was reduced. We have no right to reduce their salary because we do not share our profits with them.”

Kanika Tekriwal stated that she intends to be a part of the exciting air-taxi travel that is expected to take over cities in the near future.

She added that in the future , Jetsetgo will continue to lease planes as well as buy planes, because it needs to build its infrastructure.


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