Tuesday, May 24, 2022

How a gospel DJ-turned-event manager-turned civil contractor became India's newest airline owner

Samuel Timothy seems like the jack of all trades. Or at least that’s what a search of the man shows up on the internet.

His Facebook profile describes him as the “first gospel DJ of India”. On Instagram, he calls himself as the producer of the PIMP web series. For the uninitiated, the series, as the name suggests, seems to be a thriller of sorts with abundant nudity and was released in 2019. Timothy shuttles between Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, Goa, Shirdi, and Nagpur, according to his Instagram profile, and is also a dirt bike racer.

Timothy was once a partner at Pinnacle Celebrity Management, a Mumbai-based company engaged in guest listing, events and appearances. The company claims to have a few Bollywood actors on its rolls and is promoted by Mumbai-based Santhosh Gupta. On the professional networking platform LinkedIn, Timothy calls himself a civil contractor, senior celebrity manager, drummer, racer, producer, and CEO apart from, of course, the first gospel DJ of India. A few of his songs are available on Sound Cloud.

Then there is the 33-year-old’s tryst with the travel and tourism industry. Timothy is the founder of Wintrip.in, a website that claims to offer cheap ticketing and travel options. The company offers everything from visa assistance to car rentals and air tickets, among others, and claims to be operational for 10 years.

But all that seems to pale in comparison to his latest adventure. Timothy is the chairman and managing director of WinAir, a Nagpur-based airline company that has agreed to acquire a 79 percent equity stake in Hyderabad-headquartered regional airline TruJet. TruJet is owned by Turbo Megha Airways Pvt Ltd, and WinAir is planning to spend some Rs200 crore to acquire the 79 percent stake in the parent company. The companies signed a term sheet on April 26 and are currently in the midst of technical due diligence before taking over operational control of the airline.

“By December, TruJet will fly 20 aircraft a day,” Timothy tells Forbes India over a telephone interview from Pune. After the acquisition, Timothy will be chairman and managing director of WinAir. “In the next 10-15 days, we will finish all the agreements, and we aim to make it easy for the public to experience air travel in the country. We don’t want to be an IndiGo or Air India,” he says.

WinAir Aviation Private Limited, headquartered in Nagpur, currently has six directors. That includes Timothy, his father Ranjan, sister Priscilla, COO Ram Sharma, and BR Shegokar, director for human resources. The company started by attempting to become what it called India’s first parallel airline, a concept where it would use the equipment and operating permits of an airline. By acquiring TruJet, however, that plan seems to have gone out of the window.  

24/05/22 Manu Balachandran/Forbes India

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