Small Business Spotlight: Anthony Thurston Taking Flight with Social Innovation

'I’m glad to say that there’s been a recent resurgence in the African American community to frequent African American businesses'

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There aren’t too many black professionals in the world of aviation, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any at all. While some have dreams of being flown in a private jet, Anthony Thurston had a vision of owning a private jet company. Mission accomplished.

Now, changing the way people think when it relates to how business is done is another task that Thurston has taken on. BlackEnterprise.com spoke with Thurston about his private jet company, the reason he chose the aviation industry, and why social innovation is vital in today’s business world.

BlackEnterprise.com: What led you in the direction of aviation?

I had always had a general interest in aviation and years ago, I took a step of faith, left my job as a hospital administrator, began my journey as a private aviation businessman. I had originally started in the area of private helicopter charter, but that later turned into a vision for creating a private jet company that was serious about changing the world and giving clients the best service in the industry.

Tell us about Dream Flights International and your reasons for starting the company.

When I looked across the business aviation landscape, there were two things I wanted to do that are tightly related. I wanted to create an organization that was relentlessly dedicated to changing the world and I also wanted to change the way business was conducted from an integrity standpoint.

First, changing the world is a big deal for us. And you can’t do that without adopting the business practices that enable our team to follow our heartfelt dedication to social innovation. It’s part of our corporate DNA. As part of our business planning, we strategically commit a portion of our earnings to a number of strategic philanthropic partners.

Second, we changed the standard practice of how business is conducted particularly in terms of being more transparent about the often hidden costs our competitors don’t explain well to their clients. Increasing the value of the corporation is paramount, and we’ve accomplished that by creating the most flexible jet card program in the world, the Dream Flights Plus Card.

Dream Flights expunges a specific gap in the private jet industry, the gap between providing outstanding customer service and the ability to do business with signature integrity. All this coupled with an undying commitment to humanity.

Although we charter jet on-demand from any point of origin, our Dream Flights Plus Card program is the most flexible and fiscal sound means of flying privately. Member purchase bulk hours of flight-time in increments of 25, 50, or 100+ hours coupled with chauffeured ground transportation with all taxes, fees, fuel surcharges, and gratuities included. We utilize a network of 4000 private jets that adhere to safety requirements that are higher than those of the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration.]

What separates your business from similar companies like yours?

Our motto is “Fly the world, change the world.” Our corporate DNA is social innovation which we define as the strategic use of our time, talents, and treasures towards the increase of civil society. Unlike other companies, we start with the proposition that everything we do has to better the world around us. What follows are the business practices and quality of service that enable us to increase our giving.

Read more on Thurston’s clientele and why social innovation is vital on the next page …

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