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He plans to spend $500-million to develop SA’s first vertical business jet and is currently trying to raise R20-million from members of the public. Is he for real?
Meet Dr Reza Mia, a Johannesburg-based doctor with an aesthetics medicine practice and the founder of SA company Pegasus Universal Aviation.
His company is looking to raise R20-million from private investors to build a full-scale model of what it claims will be the world’s first true business jet coupled with helicopter convenience.
Private investors can purchase shares for the jet at R2300 a share. The offer opened on 23 September and closes on 22 December (see this story).
I took the Mensa test because I wanted to know if I was an idiot or if I was thinking ahead, says business vertical jet founder
In an emailed* question and answer (Q&A) session with Ventureburn, Mia talks about how he first got involved in entrepreneurship selling textbooks in medical school, how he took the Mensa exam to “prove he wasn’t an idiot” — and what other inventions he has up his sleeve.
When did you first get involved in entrepreneurship?
My first venture, if I could call it that, was selling textbooks in my second year of medical school. It was just a hobby really but was the first time I took an idea I had and put it into practice to earn a profit.
What have been some of the various ventures you’ve been involved in previously?
When I was in fourth year, I partnered with a friend of mine who had formulated a herbal energy drink and we called it “Legend”.
The reason I stopped making and selling this drink was because I saw that with a little more effort we could sell the creams that we were importing and make a lot more profit per sale.
I worked as a portfolio manager in our family-owned property company from 2010 to 2014.
I have also applied these principles to my aesthetic medical practice, my own property company, which is in its infancy, a fast-food store that I owned with my brothers and of course, Pegasus, which takes the bulk of my non-medical time at present.
I feel that it is important to know when the time is right to move on, clinging to fixed ideas despite the evidence at hand can be very costly. It is important not to get too attached.
Where the evidence is strong, then it is important to soldier on and persevere until you reach your goals.
What role has being part of an entrepreneurial family played in you becoming an entrepreneur?
I do come from an entrepreneurial family and one that values education and hard work. This definitely played a role in the path that I have chosen, as I saw this as a general way of life.
You describe yourself in the Pegasus investment prospectus (opens as a PDF) as a “broad-minded businessman”. What does this mean?
By “broadminded businessman”, I hope to encompass some of my philosophical viewpoints on business into a brief definition.
I like learning new things, exploring new ideas, innovating and finding my strengths and weaknesses.
I don’t believe that we should allow ourselves to be limited by anybody else’s ideas about how human beings need to constrain themselves to well defined pigeon holes.
I like to believe that we all have it in ourselves to be dynamic and to grow to meet the demands we face and to overcome the challenges we encounter.
Why did you pursue medicine, rather than become an entrepreneur?
I went into medicine because when I left school I wanted to study something of value that was challenging and that would allow me to make a difference in the process.
I like to believe that life lead me to aesthetic medicine. It wasn’t something that I had intended going into when I started at medical school, because it didn’t really exist as a field at that time.
I also wanted to have a safety net in the form of a degree, to make me more capable of facing the inevitable risks of entrepreneurship.
However, I always knew that I would pursue an entrepreneurial path throughout my life. It made sense to me.
What does aesthetic medicine involve?
Aesthetic medicine involves all of the non-surgical methods and techniques to make people look better by treating aspects of themselves that make them self-conscious, whether they were born with them or whether they had suffered some or other trauma during their lifetime.
Fillers, botulinum toxin, permanent sweat removal, platelet rich plasma into skin hair or for sexual rejuvenation, all form part of the aesthetic medicine arsenal.
You have been selected as a Mensa member. When did this happen and what does one need to do to be selected?
Mensa (a high IQ society — Ed) requires one to write an entrance exam and if you pass you are allowed to join the organisation.
I took this test because I felt like many a time my opinion was different to that of other people and I wanted to know for sure if it was because I was an idiot or if I was thinking ahead.
Unfortunately I haven’t kept my membership current, because I didn’t see any real practical value in doing so, and after passing the test I had answered the question I wanted answered.
Many may battle to understand how a South African would want to raise $500m to develop and build the first SA business vertical jet.
In aviation terms $500-million to develop a new airplane, especially one with a unique capability like VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing – Ed), is not a lot of money.
Where does this fascination for aviation, specifically business jets come from?
I have always loved aviation and airplanes, but the reason I decided to start this specific project goes back to the difference I saw between selling energy drinks and creams.
Although it takes more effort, the number of people that you have to convince to buy a product goes down when you are selling products that are more expensive and have bigger margins.
Aviation is the most exciting of these fields and I do believe that it is a good idea to lean into one’s strengths.
What other business ideas do you plan on pursuing in the future?
I have developed a concept for a device to deliver babies who are in breach to save both mum and baby from potential harm when there is no access to surgical intervention, as well as other types of airplanes which are all novel in their approach.
I have also been working on the concept anesthetic medicine incorporating scanning, 3-D printing and robotics.
Would it be fair to describe you as a business maverick?
As you have gathered, I am not a fan of well-defined descriptions when it comes to people, even if these are largely positive, but I would take it as a compliment if somebody was to call me a business maverick as one of these definitions — as long as it didn’t become a new limiting definition in time to come.
*Mia dictated his answers into transcription software that then converted it into text.
Featured image: Pegasus Universal Aviation founder Dr Reza Mia (Facebook)