Key Stats: SkyHi on Republic
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SkyHi has been selected as a “Deal To Watch” by KingsCrowd. This distinction is reserved for deals selected into the top 10% of our deal diligence funnel. If you have questions regarding our deal diligence and selection methodology, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Americans are traveling more and more every year. And airline travel is becoming more popular, casual, and spontaneous. Specifically, “U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the U.S. carried an all-time high of 1.0 billion systemwide (domestic and international) scheduled service passengers in 2018, 4.8 percent more than the previous record high of 965.4 million reached in 2017.”
Domestic flights in particular, have been steadily increasing year over year. This “systemwide increase resulted from a 4.9 percent rise in the number of passengers on domestic flights (777.9 million passengers in 2018) and 4.4 percent growth in passengers on U.S. and foreign airlines’ flights to and from the U.S. (233.6 million passengers in 2018)…”
In addition, this spontaneity can most likely be tied to current millennial trends, specifically less casual, impromptu trips.
SkyHi is a subscription-based service for commercial airlines. For a monthly fee, customers get access to domestic flights at flat rates. Specifically, SkyHi operates with three flat rates, all based on distance. Flights 1,000 miles or less cost just $35, flights between 1,000 and 2,000 miles cost $75, and flights between 2,000 and 3,000 miles cost $120.
For example, if a young professional based in Boston schedules a meeting in New York for that same week, he or she can log onto the SkyHi app, claim a seat on any available flight, and receive a fully serviceable ticket in just a few minutes. In this sense, SkyHi targets the spontaneous customer who would otherwise have to pay hundreds of dollars for such a short flight so last minute.
The young professional, or small business employee is just one of SkyHi’s three target customer bases, and makes up about 20% of its customers, suggesting that a B2B plan may be promising in the future. Around 65% of the remaining customer base consists of millennials in major cities wanting travel flexibility for leisurely weekend trips or the occasional business trip. Finally, SkyHi targets the fixed income retiree looking to travel to visit family.
To date, SkyHi flies to 93+ cities and 150+ airports across the US and Europe. In addition, SkyHi has successfully obtained the legal clearance needed to book and issue tickets, a strong differentiator in the space.
CEO and Co-Founder, Rama Poola, previously served as Director for Arc90, a technology consulting firm. Following this, he served as VP of Product and Lead Product Manager at SFX Entertainment and Postlight, respectively. He holds degrees in Computer Science and English from New York University.
CTO and Co-Founder, Vivek Poola, previously co-founded and acted as CTO of Tiny Docs, an animation company that bridges the communication gap between children and doctors regarding complex healthcare topics. The company is based in Chicago and is still active. Vivek holds a degree in Human Biology from the University of California, San Diego.
Business Model and Market
The monthly subscription fee for the SkyHi product is $199 per month. Flights are then $35, $75, or $120 depending on the distance traveled. To date, SkyHi has just over 200 paying subscribers and MRR is just under $50k. Around $30k of this goes towards the tickets themselves. Revenue for the most recent fiscal year was just over $256k.
The domestic airlines market was $146B in the U.S. alone in 2019. Granted, only a fraction of these flights were likely booked ‘last minute.’ However, spontaneity in travel is a growing trend.
Why We Like it
- Offering Competitive Differentiators: SkyHi offers a one tap booking experience. This immediately differentiates it from travel sites like Kayak that don’t have the clearance to issue tickets. Other competitors, Skyscanner, for example, shows customers their options for flights across all airlines and has the direct booking experience, but doesn’t offer a fixed pricing model. No one competitor entirely overlaps with SkyHi in booking experience and price.
- Establishing Strategic Partnerships: Not only has SkyHi begun to seek partnerships with airlines, the team has established a relationship with WeWork, making its software available to WeWork’s 250k+ members.
- Targeting Millennial Trends: Spontaneous travel is becoming more and more of a trend, especially amongst millennials. In an attempt to further target the millennial customer base, SkyHi has partnered with Instagram influencers and personalities to promote their brand as a lifestyle—a strategic move given their target customer base and popularity of spontaneous travel trends on social media. Specifically, SkyHi aims to “enable experiences.”
The Rating: Deal To Watch
SkyHi is a Deal To Watch. The experienced founders have identified a pain point in a large and trending market. The way the team has approached the product is also incredibly strategic. They have identified and zeroed in on a target customer and is playing to millenial trends in more ways than one. Specifically, pitching SkyHi as a lifestyle brand will likely be very attractive to the young customer base. In addition, SkyHi is significantly differentiated, so much so that it has no direct competitors. The closest players in the space either don’t offer a fixed pricing model or cannot issue tickets.
This is not to say that the investment is risk free. Whether or not the product is worth the subscription for any given customer comes down to simple math. Put simply, for this product to be of value, the customer needs to be a frequent traveler, significantly narrowing both the addressable market and the customer base.
Given the solid traction, strategic partnerships, and built out platform, however, SkyHi’s likely exit opportunity is in the form of an acquisition. In 2015, Travelocity was acquired by Expedia for $280M. And there are multiple large incumbents in the space scooping up smaller companies, making an acquisition exit likely.
Overall, due to its impressive differentiators and strategic partnerships, SkyHi is a Deal To Watch.
About: Olivia strobl
Olivia is a graduate of Wellesley College with a Bachelor's in Neuroscience and English. She has spent time as an investment intern at Glasswing Ventures, an AI-focused VC fund in Boston where she helped develop machine learning algorithms for identifying early signal success factors of startups.