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BW Businessworld

Fly Blade And Hunch Ventures Gear Up To Fill Loopholes In The Urban Transportation Industry Of India

The US-based helicopter transportation services on 4th December announced its foray into India in a joint venture with Hunch Ventures. Karanpal Singh, Founder, Hunch Ventures stated that a new experience of urban transportation in the future is a party for billion people that they are preparing to cater to.

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The new younger consumer in India values experiences and Hunch Ventures partnership with Fly Blade in India is exciting as it brings solutions for a nascent business model in the urban transportation industry. Hunch Ventures having deployed USD 100 Million into various businesses in India and abroad through their company portfolios like Quintessentially and GoodTimes television channel aim to foray into a market of urban transportation growing at 20%.

By leveraging their network, Hunch Ventures and Fly Blade are connecting with their niche consumer base in India willing to come on board for a service they provide in terms of air transportation. The low hanging fruit that they wish to run after is by evolving existing database. The youngest country in the world (India) is willing to spend their money on futuristic experiences of travel and Fly Blade & Hunch Ventures believe that India is a party for a billion people, according to Karanpal Singh, Founder, Hunch Ventures. 

“We’ve been looking at the transportation and consumer-facing products for a while at Hunch Ventures. We feel going forward as far as aviation as concerned, airports are going to have a big problem in being built especially when there is a scarcity of land. Each one of these airports is on the drawing board for 10-15 years before they even start to work out. In the near future, I see a 10,000 square feet helipad and a vertical take-off as the answer to air mobility. This was the origin of the idea behind helicopter transportation space and the best brand in the world today is Fly Blade. We decided to come to India with a joint venture and this has led to a partnership with a futuristic business model and a solution for the urban transportation industry,” said Karanpal Singh during a media interaction with BW Businessworld. 

The Indian ecosystem with respect to urban mobility is a great opportunity, according to Fly Blade. The consumer-facing technology brought in by the brand along with the Blade application, an operator dashboard, on the ground experience, lounge network and access to heliports limiting the friction on travel are some of the features the brand guarantees for the future of transportation. Fly Blade is also analysing routes by deploying helicopters from Juhu, Mahalaxmi to the city of Pune and Shirdi using heliports and existing infrastructure. 

Rob Wiesenthal, CEO, Fly Blade sheds light on his vision of the opportunities in the Indian market. He said, “This is our first international joint venture together and it has been very compelling since the start. When we looked at India we saw a stratospheric economic growth apart from one of the largest consumer bases in the world. But at the same time, we saw transportation infrastructure which has not been keeping up with that growth. In the U.S. magazines like Forbes, Mumbai and Pune are the two most congested cities in the world. When we look at new routes we look at multiple factors such as, drive time versus fly time and the idea behind how we can convert a 6-hour drive into a 35-minute flight is unprecedented in terms of our vision. With great opportunity, we at the same time are interested in exploring a new market which we don’t know much about and the consumer we don’t know about. Hence, through our relationships, we met Hunch Ventures and with a well-known name in the venture capital market we saw an opportunity to leverage not only their expertise but also their portfolio of companies. At the same time, we saw a government that is really interested in City 2.0, the cities of the future. 

Capitalizing on the opportunity that India offers in the modern transportation industry is the key area of Fly Blade according to their India CEO Amar Abrol. While discussing the brand’s expansion plans, he also elaborated on the concerns over airspace management and the government’s interest in exploring the sector. Over a period of time, the joint venture between Fly Blade and Hunch aims at providing more than 45 helicopter services, more than that of their number 1 competitor Pawan Hans. 

“While having a conversation with the secretary of Civil Aviation of India he said that the Ministry of Aviation is going to solve the urban transportation solutions of India. That pretty much echoes the sentimental views that I have as well and you can go underground till a limit, expand the road till a limit or you can fly so we’re betting on flying. I see Fly Blade derive their expertise in analysing routes in 3 segments intercity, intracity and leisure/religious tourism. With the right technology and services, we are close to connecting about 1000 cities within India itself. Our helicopters and airway solutions help in cutting down travel time. The government too is quite keen in working with us to address the challenges in the airspace management over here. The potential states we are looking to expand out of Maharashtra are; Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan, said Amar during the announcement. 

The new roads that the partnership has begun to pave focuses on getting the product right, launch it in Maharashtra, build the unique world-class customer experience and take it to other states across India. They want to be future ready and provide these services to a large consumer base of a billion people in the country and bring products backed by affordable pricing and time conservation. 

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