Joshua Hebert founded Magellan Jets in 2008 with 15 years of experience in finance, marketing, and aviation. His expertise in business start-ups, transformations, search engine optimization, and marketing has enabled him to grow Magellan Jets into the brand it is today.
Prior to founding Magellan Jets, Joshua worked on Wall Street as an executive for Paine Webber before applying his marketing skills to The Boston Business Journal, where as sales manager he earned the highest sales award from the American City Business Journals, three years in a row. He went on to found Jets.com where he served as senior vice president beginning in 2000 before founding Magellan.
Joshua has embraced web tech and social media to build brands and increase revenue. Among his most innovative accomplishments are the launches of the One Way Leg Search app which was the first ever online program that allows customers to manage their own travel with one device.
Magellan has been recognized for its growing success several years in a row on the Inc. 5000 list of the “Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America”, Boston Business Journal’s Pacesetters (now Fast 50) list, and as one of SmartCEO’s Future 50.
Hebert currently serves as chairman on the Magellan Jets board, on the governance board for the Air Charter Safety Foundation (ACSF), as founding chair of the alumni advisory board for Raising a Reader Massachusetts, and as a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). He is quoted in Barron’s, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business Week, and The Economist among other major publications.
Tell me about your early career.
My career is unique in that it has spanned across several industries. In fact, most people are surprised to learn that I originally envisioned myself as an FBI agent, and my efforts in high school and college were focused on achieving that goal. However, when I moved to New York, shortly after earning a degree, I quickly realized that I wanted to work in finance.
I started my career in business working on Wall Street and took control of my career path by putting in extra hours (7:00 AM–10:00 PM, six days a week) and going above and beyond the call of duty. I had to do this because my colleagues were made up of 75% ivy league school graduates, and I was not one of them. In order to prove myself to my superiors, I had to work much harder. After proving myself, I earned a phone, a briefcase, and a chair—an improvement from the limited resources I was previously granted! To this day, I remember that experience and recognize how much my work ethic was shaped by it.
After leaving Wall Street, I secured an advertising position and worked for the American City Business Journals where I earned the highest sales management award three years in a row. Once I had established my career in sales and marketing, I wanted a new challenge. That’s when I started a customer-focused venture in the private aviation sector by founding Jets.com where I served as senior vice president before launching Magellan Jets in 2008.
How did the concept for Magellan Jets come about?
Before founding Magellan Jets, I was an owner in Jets.com, a company which I managed for eight years. Through that experience, I saw inefficiencies within the private aviation sector and wanted to develop a concept that eliminated those inefficiencies.
How was the first year in business?
When seeking out funding, I looked for angel investors who didn’t want to just invest money, but also those that wanted to invest their time in helping the business. Our initial year of business was quite different from others in that we didn’t do any business at all. Instead, we were dedicated to building out various foundational functions and processes, including accounting, sourcing, flight support, marketing, and sales. Although potential customers were interested in signing on, we recommended other companies, because we wanted to wait until we could provide an equal or better service or one better than anything they had experienced in the past. Once we established superior service, customers were happy to sign on, and we began to grow quickly.
What was your marketing strategy?
Our marketing strategy has evolved as we’ve grown, and kept pace with the changes in the world of communications. Today, we have a marketing strategy that includes a variety of tactics, which bring potential customers to us. Typically, these customers have needs not yet fulfilled by other offerings in the private aviation industry.
We’ve established a reputation for providing our existing and potential customers with industry insights to help guide them through the process of selecting a private aviation service provider. We believe customers should be informed of all the options available to them before making a choice, so we focus on transparency when trying to help ease that decision-making process for them. In fact, some potential customers are surprised when we explain that we may not be the best solution for their particular situation!
We also talk to journalists, regularly sponsor events, and highlight our dedication to providing our customer’s consistent service excellence, personal and financial security, and absolute privacy.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
We started off with two employees at Magellan Jets’ inception. Within five years, that number grew by nearly 700%. We’ve been on an upward trajectory both in terms of company size, and revenue since we started. Magellan Jets has also been featured five times on the “Inc. 5000 list of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies” and was placed on the Boston Business Journal’s Fast 50 list for 2017, a list comprised of the fastest growing private companies in Massachusetts.
How do you define success?
I’ve always considered happiness as an indicator of success. When we have a happy team, we have happy customers. I believe that if your team is happy then others will pick up on that and will naturally be drawn to the company as a result. As CEO, I personally strive to ensure that our employees feel valued, and our customers feel satisfied. In doing so, it helps us stay focused on remaining one of the top leaders in private aviation.
What is the key to success?
If I define happiness as success, then I’d say the key to it is unlocking the potential of the individuals we interact with. We are sure to surround ourselves with team members who are always trying to grow, and support any efforts they have for self-improvement. For example, we routinely send our team members to conferences and certification courses that help with their professional development. When morale is high, and people feel like they’re living up to their true potential, we relish in success together.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Never stop wanting to learn more and always be willing to improve yourself. I participate in the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), where constantly learning and growing is engrained. I try to extend that philosophy to my business. I have three mentors and a business coach who are always educating me whether it’s within the business world, or in my personal life.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.”
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
What are some of your favorite books?
Traction by Gino Wickman, and anything by Dr. Seuss.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Having to make decisions about employees based on ethics and the company’s core values versus performance. We recently had to go through the tough experience of letting go a couple of top performers because we had learned that their achievements were, in part, contrary to our established core values.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
1) Always be prepared, and 2) face problems head-on. These are the two things I always do to make sure I can move forward in the face of adversity. I believe that if I were to be caught unprepared or sit idle when something becomes challenging, then I would be making a difficult problem much worse. I always advise people that hiding from problems prohibits them from overcoming obstacles. I’ve gone through the ranks of the business world with a mindset of “no problem is too challenging” and to this day, I still live by that mantra.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Find a mentor (or a few), continue to learn from them, and always ask questions.
When someone shares an opinion, it’s important that young entrepreneurs gain more knowledge about where the opinion is coming from. It’s important to ask about the experiences that helped form the opinion, and not to just accept it at face value. Also, always remember to face challenges head-on, without hesitation, and never compromise your values. Stick to these, and the sky’s the limit!
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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