“I know you are taking it in the teeth, but the first guy through the wall... he always gets bloody... always.” (Moneyball)
This quote reflects what I see happening in public discussions regarding my decision to implement a very different strategic business approach while CEO of Jaunt, Inc. This approach, particularly the financial and policy decisions, which resulted in unmistakable outcomes, are being mischaracterized as uncommon and inappropriate. Like the Oakland Athletics in 2002, I created and applied unconventional, innovative, and successful strategies to reshape how transit is successful in responding and serving the community with better transit services.
I am proud of my work as the former CEO of Jaunt, Inc. and of what my dedicated team accomplished. Together, we employed well-established business strategies (Jaunt’s Build Growth and Opportunities plan) to improve and innovate services while expanding Jaunt’s portfolio of private contracts and nongovernment revenue opportunities. The strategic business reinvestment of private revenues
For FY2020, $357,031 of private contract revenues were invested in returning a $3,752,061 financial advantage, accomplished through strategic business practices at no cost to local governments. By applying the principles of entrepreneur and business acumen, I led my team to overcome the status quo of transit, demonstrating how to build success on the hybrid of business flexibility and government responsibility virtues.
Jaunt is a unique entity, organized as a private company under corporate law to provide private and public services. Jaunt operates the largest regional coordinated transport service in Virginia, spanning 2,560 square miles and seven jurisdictions. Efficient coordination of public and private services means a complex structure, requiring separate operational and financial management for government and private contracts. The limitations of government policies and regulations that control Jaunt’s public services do not apply to Jaunt’s private contracts and private revenues. The flexibility and independence to enter private arrangements became the foundation of my strategic business development approach.
Often, confusion arises from a misunderstanding of Jaunt's corporate structure and business arrangements. The mischaracterization of Jaunt is causing a misrepresentation of my management decisions as CEO. Furthermore, commentators have overlooked the broader, well-established strategic business approaches that resulted in impressive successes. The inclusion of this information provides an audience the complete scope of my strategic business plan, management and financial decisions, and outcomes while CEO of Jaunt, Inc.
Attorney General of Virginia Opinion (and Va Supreme Court ruling) regarding Jaunt's nongovernment/corporate status.
The “Strategic Business Reinvestment” approach has its origins in the first year of being Jaunt’s CEO. At that time, it became clear that Jaunt’s apparent opportunities exist with expanding and innovating services and partnerships. However, there were critical changes required to strengthen the foundation of Jaunt. To strengthen Jaunt, I needed to:
My plan was critical to building Jaunt’s growth and opportunities. And it was financially ambitious. I could not expect local governments to invest public funds in the type of business practices I foresaw. For Jaunt to grow and innovate, I needed to build more nongovernment partnerships and increase revenues from private contracts to reinvest into critical areas of my plan.
My “Building Growth and Opportunities” approach needed an infusion of reinvested nongovernment revenues. As a result of focusing my efforts on stabilizing and establishing new contracts, private revenues increased 64% annually. Since 2016, these unbudgeted private revenues became the financial support to implement the elements of my plan to:
In addition to creating the incentives for more efficient services and a renewed commitment to a high quality of service, it quickly became apparent the strategic business reinvestment approached was saving local governments money. For FY2020, had Jaunt not been able to implement efficiency incentives, it would have needed $1,369,831(an increase from $1,028,676 for FY2019) in additional local government funds to keep pace with the growth in needs for public services; this excludes any funds needed to increase frontline worker wages.
Investment in travel for all Jaunt employees and the Board of Directors was central to my strategic business development approach. It was vital to exploring and building competencies to expand and innovate service offerings.
Jaunt’s reinvestment of profits from private contracts began as early as 2016. As a comparison of the travel expenses between FY2016, FY2017, and FY2018, Jaunt’s Financial Statements show there was an increase in travel investment by 5,984% between 2016 and 2017 (from $728 to $44,295) and 489% between 2017 and 2018 (from $44,295 to $260,694).
My travel reinvestment approach reflected generally accepted corporate standards, particularly companies focusing on growth and start-up opportunities. Because of the wide diversity of businesses and their reasons for travel, there is no definitive resource to assess travel expenses. However, research I used from the Global Business Travel Association and JP Morgan suggests travel expenses should make up 6% to 12% of a company’s annual revenues. Using this information, I held Jaunt’s travel expenses to 3% and only funded travel with unbudgeted, new profits from private contracts that occurred the same year.
By 2018, privately funded travel of Jaunt’s leadership and management included trips for conferences and workshops outside of the United States, exploring novel solutions to emerging transportation needs. This approach enabled Jaunt’s leadership and management to bring the best of these global transit innovations to Charlottesville, catalyzing initiatives like Mobility as a Service, On-Demand scheduling, and the industry's first all-electric light-duty bus.
As early as 2016, Jaunt began to make strategic investments in travel, goods, and services. By 2020, the reinvestments of profits from private contracts created undeniable results, improving the compensation and appreciation for employees, improving services, increasing competencies, and forming a solid foundation for future growth. For example: