Angelo was born and raised in Haiti. Growing up through some of the country’s’ toughest times, Angelo developed a passion that would eventually change his life. He explained, “I lived through all the wars and I’ve seen united nations come in and try to help. There would be helicopters that fly like 15 feet above our house. I used to sit on the roof watching helicopters and I would say, yeah I’m going to do this.” Angelo and his family moved to Brooklyn, New York in 1995. Flatbush to be exact. He was faced with the task of new schools and a new language, but never lost sight of his goal to fly. Ten years later, things would finally begin to take off for Angelo.
I caught up with Angelo at his Wall St. office in New York City. The building certainly reflected the regal ambiance of his business. Angelo is a graduate of Sussex CC and earned his aviation credentials from Ventura Flight School. Not only is he a licensed pilot, but Angelo is also the President and Director of Operations of a Private Jet company, Royal Jets. Overseeing a talented staff of 15 at the young age of 28. With the business calculating somewhere around a $20 million dollar valuation, Royal Jets has been the trusted airline of choice for many well known entertainers and executives. Just recently Royal Jets acquired a feller of citation CJ3 for the company’s operations and partnered with the Darrin Walls of the NY Jets and the Darin’s walls foundation to provide school supplies to under privilege kids in the Pittsburgh area. We are proud to present a young aviator navigating his way to the Forbes List in this week’s #ShineHard conversation.
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How did you get started in the airline industry?
Angelo: I really don’t know, it was just one of those things. I didn’t have a particular route to the airplanes, but I just loved to fly. You know as a kid, everyone wanted to be a super hero. I was always just fascinated with flight. Just imagining what it’s like to be up there. I just wanted to take it to the next level.
One day, when I was about 22 or 23, I walked into the airport flight school and asked them, “teach me how to fly?” Of course, young black guy, they’re looking at me crazy like, “who is THIS guy??” But I wanted to do it. The first day I go in, it’s not like learning how to drive where you have to read a book, they put you right on the yoke the first day taking off and landing. It was an hour long. One of the happiest and scariest moments of my life. Going 180 mph.
Where did the idea for a private jet company come from?
Angelo: I was about two, three years into flight school at that time. Still learning how to fly and It was all over Facebook. I went from not known for being around planes to being the “Airplane Guy.” So one of my friends was doing a show in the city with Rick Ross and Meek Mill, this was maybe 2012. He gave me a call because they missed their flight, he was like, “I always see your pictures on Facebook and I just missed my flight! I need to be at this show, can you help me?” I told him give me 10 minutes and I’ll figure it out. I called one of my flight instructors. He had an 8 passenger airplane. I told him about the situation and asked what can we do? He said, “Look man, just give me a couple grand, I’ll pick you up and bring you back.” That was basically the start to everything. That’s when the light bulb went off in my head, “oh my goodness, I could really do this.” I could fly the planes and I have the network in the entertainment industry, if I can put the two together I can add value there.
Where did you get the name Royal Jets?
Angelo: The name came from the type of service that we’re willing to provide to our clients. We want everyone to feel like royalty when they fly with us. We came up with the name not knowing there was a Royal Jet group owned by the Royal family in Abu Dhabi. That was one of our first challenges as a business, winning the rights to the name with the United States Trademark and Patent office. We had to position ourselves in the market by buying RoyalJets.com, owning the social media handles. It only cost me about $1,000 to start. They owned the group, but we positioned ourselves as the primary company.
What is your Passion?
Angelo: I think it’s to help others. I’ve come to find out, that’s what makes you a successful business man. My early days it used to be about making money, making money, making money. It wasn’t long until I realized money comes and goes. When you’re a blessing to others that’s when you start seeing the real blessings coming in. Karma never loses an address.
Who are your mentors? Who do you look to for guidance in this industry?
Angelo: Well, depending on the department, we have different people that we go to. One of our first big supporters was Meeka Claxton, wife of Speedy Claxton. She put a few things on social media and a couple days later we had guys from the Raptors contacting us. She’s been a great mentor from a marketing standpoint. From the financial aspect, we have a guy John Dockins, he took one of the first hospitals public on Wall St. He’s made over 200 Million in his career. He’s a financial adviser and we call him Uncle John, haha.
In your opinion, what skills must someone possess to be a successful entrepreneur?
Angelo: Will Power. If you don’t have the will power you’ve got nothing. People in my old neighborhood came up with so many genius ideas, but I guess they lacked the motivation to just do it. Royal Jets is the biggest project of my life, but I’ve started several smaller ventures where I thought of it then executed it. Will power, gotta be fearless, and you just can’t take no for answer. You have to knock on doors until somebody opens.
Whats been your biggest challenge as a young pilot?
Angelo: Fund raising for Royal Jets. That was tough. The initial first round was $500,000 and I had never raised that much money before. Most people weren’t willing to invest in a business they knew nothing about. We had to show them why it’s a growing market, had to educate myself on a lot of things, and I had to build a team. We had to knock on doors and thankfully a few people answered. And don’t get me wrong, we’re still knocking, still looking to grow.
Despite that, what inspires you to succeed?
Angelo: My love for aviation. If you only do things for money you are lost. You gotta love what you do. I get up everyday and don’t have to make a cent but I would still be working. I still fly every chance I get.
What would you say frustrates you the most about today’s culture?
Angelo: No one is original and a lot of people want nice things but a lot of people don’t want to work for it. Success takes sacrifice. Furthermore, money isn’t everything. I mean, we all like nice things but it doesn’t make you who you are. I believe it’s best to just stay authentic to who you are no matter what you’ve done or what you have.
What is the #1 Factor behind your success?
Angelo: Faith. I say that because there are certain things we can’t explain or understand. We have to leave them in God’s hands and just got to have faith that it’s going to work out. I really knew that Royal Jets was going to work out. Not to psych myself up or be cocky, but I just felt it because of faith.
What advice do you have for aspiring pilots or entrepreneurs?
Angelo: Find the people that can point you in the right direction. That will make your life so much easier. To fly or step outside of your comfort zone you have to be fearless. Once you have fear out of the way, plus will power, and whoever you believe in is right there with you, it’s really only a matter of time. Stay patient and things will come together.
Johnny: They say everything we want is on the other side of fear and life begins outside of your comfort zone. Angelo you are leading by example. Glad to have you as a member of the @ShineHardFamily.
Interested in learning more or connecting with Angelo?