Monarc Global is an online booking engine for private aircraft available for charter. The company was founded by Royce Crown and Monica Zagrodny and is currently participating in the River City Labs Accelerator Program.
Royce Crown, a commercial helicopter pilot with 18 years experience under his belt, sat down with Startup Soda to talk about Monarc Global and how they are positioning themselves as the Expedia or Wotif.com for private aircraft charter.
Joining Royce on this journey is Monica Zagrodny. Monica is the company’s COO and has 13 years experience with Flight Centre operating GDS systems such as Apollo, Sabre and Amadeus, the importance of which will become more clear shortly.
When we started speaking with Royce it became apparent that Monarc Global is much more than just a marketplace. Monarc is looking to grab a stranglehold on the market by providing the software that manages the operations of private aircraft operators.
This allows Monarc to gain insight into the availability of aircraft and work with agents, brokers and the public to seamlessly find, book and pay for private aircraft charter.
Despite his passion for flying Monarc Global Royce explained that the original impetus for the company came from something much closer to the ground. As Royce went onto explain “Monarc first began by wanting to ease the congestion on the M1 between Gold Coast and Brisbane for working professionals. Our research showed that the M1 has the highest commuting traffic in Australia taking approx 1.25 hours each direction and the flight time in a R44 is 16-17 minutes.”
By providing a service that could significantly cut down the commute time for busy professionals Monarc was able to grow to 2-3 flights per day. To help manage the demands of their customers they build an application that would allow clients to book and manage their flights.
This in turn led to the company developing relationships with jet operators and they quickly realised that the price per seat was actually cheaper than business class on a commercial airline. However, there was a major roadblock to that stops this from reaching mainstream awareness. As Royce would explain “cannot sell their flights by the seat nor can they operate on a schedule based on CASA regulations.”
However, where there is a will there’s a way and Monrac engaged CASA to find a workaround that would enable Monarc to have aircraft booked by the seat. With the app updated to reflect this shift in their model they began to see some traction emerge. However as Royce went onto explain conversion was their biggest issue, “we quoted between 12.5 million dollars in charter flights between October and December 2017, but our conversion rate was only 0.054%”.
This boiled down to a core problem with how the private sector operated. To obtain availability and pricing from these operators an enquiry would have to be submitted. Monarc would then need to wait 24-48 hours before getting a response that they could relay to the customers. “In some cases, the quote would come back 24 hours after the client was meant to leave” according to Royce.
To tackle this problem it was back to the drawing board. The team started looking at how they could use the Global Distribution System concept that is used in commercial aircraft operations and apply it to the charter industry. As Royce explained, and to emphasis just how big an adjustment this means, there is a fundamental difference between scheduled vs non-scheduled flights which is why there has never been a GDS built for the charter industry.
To make sure they could provide the end customer with the experience they demand the solution was to therefore build software that operators would use on a daily basis. This system would include all of the relevant information needed to put in a centralised place for customers and clients to book, allowing Monarc to deliver on their vision of a creating an easy to use and centralised platform to find and book private aircraft.
Since reaching this milestone the company has gone from strength to strength. As Royce outlined Monarc now helps with “aircraft management and scheduling, pilot and support staff scheduling, customer quoting and one place to store all of the important aircraft documents including insurance and maintenance logs”.
The operator also shares the pricing information and scheduling calendar with Monarc which gives them live availability, up to date pricing and the ability to generate bookings instantly.
All of this now brings us to the present where Monarc is currently going through the River City Labs accelerator program. On that front, Royce says that “the benefit of RCL accelerator and mentors is that i’m surrounded by founders in the same position as I am. The mentors are genuine and validated with real advice and real experience. The program really helps with business structure and i’m constantly learning on how to improve my leadership within my own business.”
Throughout the RCL program and beyond Monarc is now focused on integrating operators from all over Australia onto their platform, with the aim to launch the Monarc Global booking site nationwide within 8 months.
Looking further afield Royce said “We have over 600+ operators globally with registered interest in our software, so our goal is to start expanding to North America and Europe within the next 18 months.”
To learn more about Monarc you can visit their website here.