Aeroplanned founders Jen Liddle and Jacquie Udyavar have created a software solution for flight training schools. The data driven software enables flight schools to make highly effective decisions, maximise outputs and reduce costs. Jen and Jacquie recently completed Soda's customised LIFT programme where they were mentored by Timely founder Ryan Baker.
Tell us about Aeroplanned...
Aeroplanned is a software solution enabling flight training schools to effectively plan for the future, resolve upcoming issues and capitalise on potential opportunities. As the aviation industry starts to return to pre-covid levels, there is a significant demand for pilots worldwide and flight training schools are starting to see their numbers of students increase. At Aeroplanned we believe there is a fantastic opportunity for flight training schools to plan this growth in a really effective way, and all involved can experience the benefits. By ensuring the required resources match the pipeline of students, flight training schools can operate at maximum efficiency, increasing revenue and reducing costs. Plus, students will receive continuous training and finish on time. Aeroplanned provides an industry leading solution to give clear insights, empower effective problem solving, and enable optimisation of future activities.
How did you get the idea for Aeroplanned?
Jac and I have both been involved in Flight Training for more than 20 years and throughout that time it's been evident the industry would hugely benefit from an effective planning tool. While planning for a large international flight school, it became clear that spreadsheets didn't cut it and a software solution was needed. We quit our jobs and have spent the last two years designing and creating this product to ensure it is accurate and intelligent, but also simple to interpret and adjust.
How did the two of you meet?
We first met 13 years ago at the previous company that we worked for - Jacquie was hired to replace me during maternity leave. I thought she was fantastic from day one and when I returned from maternity leave, we teamed up and moved into planning roles, making our way up to become global planning managers.
How did the LIFT programme help your business?
The LIFT programme has significantly helped our business. When we first started the programme we were working on a prototype of the software, and we didn't have a clear idea of how best to introduce it to the market. In hindsight we didn't really understand what it takes to get a successful software product up and running. Ryan's experience of taking a software product from start-up to 55,000 users worldwide was an unbelievable injection of knowledge and insight into what we were doing. With each meeting we gained more and more understanding of the steps required and we built a plan to bring on early adopter customers to help us test and refine the software. One of the biggest milestones in the programme was getting our first dollar of revenue! The second milestone is still in progress. Ryan has stressed from day one that it would be almost impossible for a Saas Startup to be significantly successful without a technical co-founder. He introduced us to Troy from Talent Army and we have spent the second half of the programme working with them to bring someone on to fill that role.
What did you enjoy most about the LIFT programme?
This programme, and our time with Ryan, has been a total game changer for Aeroplanned. Ryan's advice has been incredible, and not just because he's been there done it, but also because he listened to us and took the time to understand who we are and what we want to achieve. He then constructs his advice to make it exceptionally relevant and easy to implement.
What is your goal for Aeroplanned?
We believe Aeroplanned is going to change the aviation industry by maximising the worldwide utilisation of aviation resources. This initial product is just the first stage of our vision. There are many more features we intend to build and we look forward to building a community where the outcomes can be further amplified.
What has been your biggest challenge so far in your entrepreneurial journey and how did you overcome it?
The time it has taken to get this right. The journey we have been on to get the best balance of features, data, visualisation and user control has been long, and at times it's felt like we've stepped backwards before being able to move forward again. We have kept believing in the end goal and how much value this will bring to the industry.
What’s a business highlight you’re proud of?
The thrill of seeing our early customers use the software, the first 'wow' was a moment I'll always remember.
What or who inspires you?
Jac and I often have the conversation about how inspiring it is working with people who are really good at what they do. It's clear when someone loves their role - their passion oozes into everything they do. We have had the pleasure of working with many of those people throughout our journey. They do their very best for you because they genuinely want you to succeed.
What do you enjoy most about being a business founder?
Two things; firstly, having an opportunity to transform an idea into a tangible thing that is bringing value to others - it's incredibly rewarding. And secondly, the privilege of collaborating with good people.
Tell us what a normal day or week looks like for you?
Jac and I are both full-time in the business and, with two of our early adopter customers in the UK, there is no such thing as a 9-5 day! We are also busy mums ... we are really looking forward to the company generating enough money that we can pay for a cleaner each which is not too far away!
Does Aeroplanned have any exciting plans for 2022 and beyond?
The addition of our technical co-founder is going to be a huge step forward for us. We are incredibly excited for this person to join our team in October. We have also been intentionally 'flying under the radar' while we test out our product with our early adopter customers, but we are very close to introducing Aeroplanned to the wider market.