A Former Hedge Fund Manager Created A Fancy Shuttle Service To Compete With Private Jets

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Richard Fertig managed a portfolio of hedge fund investments worth $4 billion until he lost his job in January 2009, another casualty of the Great Recession. Fertig interviewed for jobs left and right, but found finance jobs hard to come by.

Looking back at his life and travels as a hedge fund manager, Fertig realized that many of his best experiences were dampened by low-quality ground transportation. At the same time, he believed others who still worked in his former occupation experienced those same inconveniences.

So Fertig, a Wharton graduate, abandoned the finance industry and established Brilliant Transportation, a luxury transport service that offers wealthy clients the comforts of a high-end hotel room, the functionality of an office, the space of a private jet, and the service of a private concierge.

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He began by acquiring a fleet of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans through loans and his personal savings. Fertig was drawn to the Sprinter because it allowed even the tallest people to stand upright. He stripped the Sprinter vans of their stock interiors and refurbished them with luxury fixtures like hardwood floors, captain's chairs, and retractable work stations.

Brilliant's fleet of luxury vans, which rent for $225 an hour, are equipped with wifi, satellite television and other features meant to recreate the functionality of an office.

Fertig believes his vans can create tremendous value for corporate clients, because time spent in transit can be used productively. As a result, he now services many of the same financial industry titans that he once worked for and with.

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Brilliant doesn't compete with black car services or Uber-like apps for local rides or airport transports, Fertig says. Instead, he sees his company as a competitor for private jet and helicopter services, often ferrying clients between New York City and the Hamptons, and around Los Angeles.

Rather than a disjointed stop-and-go private jet experience, clients are picked up with the custom catering orders waiting in the van. They can then to do work, relax, and watch some television on the way to their destination.

The company has around 30 vehicles and offers its services in New York City, the Hamptons, Connecticut, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas, and will soon launch in Miami.

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Its clients include at least half a dozen billionaires, as well as celebrities and major corporations. Fertig's vans provided the transportation for the wedding of Dylan Lauren, daughter of designer Ralph Lauren.

With such discerning clients, employee training is one of Fertig's toughest tasks. "Every driver drives me and my family around first before they are allowed to drive a client," he said.

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