Aero Technologies CEO Uma Subramanian on Building a Premium Aviation Brand

Spencer Rascoff

Spencer Rascoff serves as executive chairman of dot.LA. He is an entrepreneur and company leader who co-founded Zillow, Hotwire, dot.LA, Pacaso and Supernova, and who served as Zillow's CEO for a decade. During Spencer's time as CEO, Zillow won dozens of "best places to work" awards as it grew to over 4,500 employees, $3 billion in revenue, and $10 billion in market capitalization. Prior to Zillow, Spencer co-founded and was VP Corporate Development of Hotwire, which was sold to Expedia for $685 million in 2003. Through his startup studio and venture capital firm, 75 & Sunny, Spencer is an active angel investor in over 100 companies and is incubating several more.

Aero Technologies CEO Uma Subramanian on Building a Premium Aviation Brand
Courtesy of Uma Subramanian.

Uma Subramanian says she found her great love in life at 9 years old, with a trip to Space Camp. Since then, she has been fascinated with everything that flies.

On this episode of Office Hours, Subramanian, now the CEO of Aero Technologies, talks about her unique path in aviation and her plans to build and grow a luxury aviation company.

Subramanian got her degree in aerospace engineering and began her career working for NASA. After a couple of years working in aerospace at a time when the space race wasn’t much of a national priority, she decided to take a detour to business school.

“I came from a very engineering-heavy business and a very engineering-heavy background. So I knew a lot about space rocket propulsion jets, like how do you make that fly? But I didn't really know how the world works,” said Subramanian.

Going to business school was an eye opening experience she said, providing her with “a spectacular way to make sense of the world in a very compressed period of time.”

After stints working for Rolls Royce and becoming general manager for TaskRabbit’s European arm, where said he went from selling jet airlines to airplanes to organizing gardening groups, Subramanian returned to her fundamental love: aviation. Through an incubator run by Airbus, Subramanian found herself working at Voom, a company focused on making helicopter trips accessible and affordable to urban markets.

“So that was my first real kind of CEO entrepreneurial job. And the goal was basically to make urban air mobility real,” said Subramanian.

It wouldn’t be the last time Subramanian would lead a company on the edge of aviation.

She joined Aero Technologies in 2019, an airline and aviation company that aims to heighten the flying experience to be an event in itself. Aero is focused on wealthier customers and focuses on routes that include going from Los Angeles to Los Cabos or Aspen to San Francisco.

“There are routes all over the US that are similar to this where there's a high concentration of people, a steady state of people kind of going back and forth, supplemented by the vacation travelers,” said Subramanian.

She sees the company’s mission as building a luxury brand in the aviation space. For Subramanian that means building a brand that resonates with the traveler beyond the basic service of flying.

“We're really building a brand that is much more than just air travel. Air travel happens to be the thing we provide, but we're offering a lot of other services for the customer,” said Subramanian.

Want to hear more episodes? Subscribe to Office Hours on Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart Radio or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA Engagement Fellow Joshua Letona contributed to this post.

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