How He Went from Intern to Innovator in the Travel Industry
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what’s your business?
My name is Alex Wilcox, I’m a travel industry innovator. I am co-founder and CEO of private jet charter company JetSuite, launched in 2009, and its younger sibling JetSuiteX, a semi-private air travel company that debuted mid-2016. I’ve learned the travel industry from the ground up, interning at Southwest, learning from the best at Virgin Atlantic and helping to create JetBlue, where I was a driving force behind things like the introduction of LiveTV. I know how good traveling can be when it's done right. My driving passion in life is to make travel better than it’s been.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
Someone naive enough to think they can build a better mousetrap and determined enough to do it.
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
In business, the firsts are the toughest. Things like getting the first investor to say yes or recruiting the first full-time colleague or convincing the first person that this was worth trying to do full-time.
What are you attacking next?
I don’t view any of what I do as "attacking." I view it as creating opportunities. The next opportunity is to grow JetSuiteX from proof of concept to national scale grower and a billion-dollar business.
What trait do you depend on most when making decisions?
Instinct and intuition. When you are creating something new, there are too many variables to make decisions based solely on analytics. The only thing that can help control for the x-factor is the combined intuition of your head and heart.
How has your leadership style evolved?
It took me a long time, but I finally realized that the CEO’s role is to encourage people. It’s more about finding the right people and encouraging them to do their best than about anything else.
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?
To me, the challenge of creation is being able to overcome the inevitable setbacks and believing in yourself. When I need determination, I think of Churchill’s quote, “Success is moving from one defeat to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” When I need inspiration, I think of Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t—you’re right.”