RISE, a private flight sharing company based out of Dallas, is no slave to the ordinary. Their motto, “Travel Better” is rooted in the belief that the world would be better if we spent more time doing what we loved with those we love, not stuck in airports. As a purpose-driven branding agency, we’re big into people, companies and brands that are out to make a difference. Being rare and remarkable is something that most companies want to be, but rarely are. To understand how RISE is building a brand of exceptional value and what makes them so lovable, we were invited for a personal tour.
As we walked into the lobby, we were greeted by Co-Founder, Dan Caine. He led us to the RISE office in their hangar at Love Field. Director of Communications, Angela Vargo, and VP of Operations, Jeremy Kokenes, greeted us with smiles. We walked across the tarmac, lined with Beechcraft King Air 350 Jets. A RISE Representative was standing by to help us into the jet. The moment we stepped into the eight seater cabin, we saw the cream colored leather seats facing each other bearing RISE’s green and black logo on the headrests. The cockpit looks like something from the movies and every seat is a window seat. From the branded water bottles to the embroidered headrests, you know that RISE is delivering a unique brand experience. They accommodate members’ needs from the type of drinks and snacks they want to arranging plane side transportation once the members land.
Jeremy and Angela sat down with us inside the jet and began telling the story.
It all began after Nick Kennedy and his business partner, Clynt Taylor, logged millions of airlines miles over the course of a decade. The soul-crushing experience of air travel started to weigh on them with all the hassles, delays, and cramped seating on commercial flights. One day, Kennedy had the opportunity to travel on a private jet, and was immediately transformed. It was air travel the way it should be — no lines, roomy seats and a hassle-free experience that allowed him to get business done and still be home in time for dinner with the family. The idea of RISE started to take flight.
To the RISE team, Co-founders, Nick Kennedy, Clynt Taylor, Megan Hodges and Dan Caine, it was simple — There had to be a way to deliver air travel nirvana to time-strapped business people at a much lesser cost than jet chartering or ownership. Nick explained it like it was the most obvious thing in the world, “we created a disruptive technology platform and membership-based business model that incorporated all the benefits of private air travel at a more affordable cost.”
The Beechcraft King Air 350 Jets that RISE uses are owned and maintained by Monarch Air of Dallas. This cuts costs for RISE and is what makes membership more affordable. Location choice is membership based, meaning that members tell RISE where they need to go. Even the timing of flights is crowdsourced to accommodate the members’ collective schedules.
RISE has transformed the flight experience by giving their members their most valuable asset back — time. For RISE, this means helping people ‘rise’ to whatever their calling is without wasting time parking, driving, going through security, and waiting in airports. Jeremy said, “Time is our most valuable asset and to fall behind hinders you from spending time with who you love and what you love.”
How exactly does RISE deliver on that promise? They make some notable advantages in efficiency and speed. Jeremy explained that “in the world of aviation, gate to gate times are what airlines care about. What RISE cares about is when you step on the plane and when you land.” RISE eliminates gate time, taxi time, climb time, and unloading time. Members arrive just 10-15 minutes before their flight is scheduled and the jet takes off 4 minutes after the last member takes their seat.
Providing a remarkable travel experience is what propels the RISE team out of bed each morning. As part of their RISE in Review for 2015 they documented that they gave members back 12,600 hours to “be with their passion.”
Co-founder, Nick, lights up when he discusses the team’s shared purpose. “We are most happy when we see the difference we are making in people’s lives. The greatest feeling in the world is when a member emails us a photo of them at their kid’s sporting event or ballet recital with a note saying ‘Thanks for making this possible.’” Jeremy remembered a time when a member was able to coach his kids’ lacrosse team for the first time in years. “Before RISE, he was never able to guarantee that he would make it in time.”
On RISE’s twitter, their hashtag #MembersQuotes, shares testimonials of member experiences such as, “The experience is so smooth. I feel like a king…” and “I fly RISE so I can kiss my kids goodnight.” The passion that RISE feels towards their members is very much reciprocated.
When asked about the relationships with the members and the culture, Jeremy says that “we didn’t expect such a strong bond and sense of community to be shared between RISE and our members. People are always looking to connect in a deeper way and that’s what’s so great about this airline.”
For the movers and shakers out there, RISE is your golden ticket to travel. Like minded people looking to maximize their time and enjoy their life sit to your left and right. The friendships founded and bonds made in a community like that is something that RISE says they see everyday.
Company culture is key, we hear it all the time. What type of culture really creates that dynamic difference though? What makes RISE’s culture notable? Angela answered that question with ease. “Personally, I chose to work here because I want my job to have purpose…to feel like, in some small way, I am contributing to making someone’s life better.” Jeremy notes that “Each person that works at RISE makes a huge contribution. Everyone picks up the ball. Each person is taking on massive responsibilities whether they know it or not. We’re tight on hiring because we want culture, values, and someone who wants to grow with the company.”
There is no doubt that people are the center of RISE. RISE’s leadership understands that employees need to be put first, empowered, motivated, and supported. Nick’s advice is to “get out of their way and watch them embody your brand in a way no product or stand-alone service can.”
Stepping out of the jet after our talk, we were greeted by blue skies, a row of jets ready for take off, and happy faces. Part of building a brand executing on an exceptional brand experience at every turn. Everyone needs to be a brand ambassador. It’s clear that RISE understands that. From the greeters, to the pilots, to the co-founders, each person is pivotal in their role as a RISE Representative.
With just 6 months of flying under RISE’s belt, it’s safe to say that they have a bright future. Through the kind and humble team that deeply values their culture of happiness and hard work, lives are impacted, time is saved, and meaningful connections are made. Members hold immense value and gratitude for the brand and what they do for them.
RISE only operates in Texas at the moment. Dallas memberships are currently on a waiting list, but memberships for unlimited flights per month are open for San Antonio, Houston, Austin, and Midland. On special weekends, RISE “Fun Flights” travel to Marfa, TX, Vail and Vegas. Coming soon are flights to Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. RISE also has plans to eventually expand to Europe, ending the era of encumbered flights for the European market. Soon, the whole world will be rising.
Co-Founders: Nick Kennedy, Clynt Taylor, Dan Caine, Megan Hodges
Category: Travel & Transportation