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Flapper was launched with a particularly ambitious mission: to bring executive aviation to the mainstream traveler. The idea was born out of a need for accessible on-demand private aviation services, including flights to airports inaccessible to commercial aviation. Using Flapper’s app and corporate platform, passengers could book affordable jet and helicopter flights.
It was in early 2016 that the co-founders realized that there was an under-explored niche of shared flights within the Brazilian executive aviation sector. At the time, Paul Malicki, the current CEO, acted as a Global CMO of Easy Taxi, later acquired by Cabify. Co-founders Arthur Virzin, Iago Senefonte, and William Oliveira led the development team at Qiwi Brazil, a Russian payment company, which IPO-ed at Nasdaq in 2013. Fabio Cristilli, former VAS Director of TIM (Telecom Italia), joined the team as an angel investor. Paul Malicki himself also contributed to this investment round.
After more than six months of intense development, the beta version of the Flapper app was launched in June 2016. The first flights took place during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, with a test offer composed of scheduled flights between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and on-demand charters with turbo-prop aircraft. The proximity of Jacarepaguá Airport to the Olympic Village helped the company validate the idea and gather initial feedback from early-adopters.
In October of the same year, Flapper was accepted to ACE, considered Latin America’s most successful startup accelerator. Under ACE’s auspices, the company focused its efforts on full validation of the product, sector, and user. During the following sixth months, Flapper’s team would further elaborate its business model and validate more than 60 internal assumptions, including key routes and demand spots, target aircraft, the user profile, and key features of the soon-to-be-developed technology.
In March 2017, Flapper received a new investment round by ACE and launched occasional flights between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The company was accepted to the exclusive programs of Facebook Start and Draper Venture Network. With 15-30% month-over-month growth rates, the team then announced its R$3 million Seed investment, led by Confrapar’s Aerotec fund, with the participation of ACE and Fabio Cristilli.
This led to opening of its new HQ in the city of Belo Horizonte, where it’s currently based today. Ex-commercial director of the publisher Rocky Mountain, Flavio Carvalho, joined the team as its Commercial Director for São Paulo. Manoel Assuncao, previously responsible for the sales of Avantto, Brazil’s largest fractional ownership company, took over as the Sales Director for Rio de Janeiro. Gustavo Tedeschi (ex-Evinco Capital Partners and ex-Hotel Urbano) was nominated as a CFO of the company.
January and February 2018 brought the launch of two new routes between the coastal cities of Angra dos Reis and Buzios. Partnerships with key local operators, including UniAir, AirJet, and CAF followed suit. Then came integrations with Argo, Concur, and Reserva Fácil, as well as marketing partnerships with Elo, XP Investimentos, and more than 50 travel agencies.
Within 1.5 years since the launch of regular flights in November 2017, Flapper became the largest private aviation platform in LATAM. The company transported nearly 4000 passengers in 2018, accrued 100,000 mobile app users, and registered 212 certified aircraft on its platform. Its latest innovation includes Bitcoin payments and full automation of the reservation process.
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