Last year was a year of many firsts for us, and by all accounts the best year we have ever had in our 7+ years of serving General Aviation. We thought we would write a post about it for those who may be curious in learning more about the entrepreneurial side of aviation.
2020 was a difficult year for aviation on all levels; Commercial and General. We had our moments of sensing a slow down, but they were brief and quickly reversed. While many aspects of the General Aviation industry felt the pain from a reduction in flights and activity, we noticed that, for a number of reasons, our business only got busier.
First, we completed a massive 2.5 year effort of re-building our entire web app from the ground up, which we launched and announced in November of 2019, just before the New Year. Almost instantly, the traction was building and people were giving our SaaS a try - and loving it!
2- Great press
Second, we had fantastic press early on in the year to help boost the momentum. A long time customer wrote an unsolicited review about us in ABS Magazine (which you can read here). As many know in this tight-knit community, word travels fast.
3- Aircraft Spruce
Third, we announced our first strategic partnership with a major company in General Aviation, Aircraft Spruce. For two young entrepreneurs who have completely bootstrapped this entire effort, and poured everything we have into it, we were very much pinching ourselves. Our hard work and hundreds of thousands of lines of code are being recognized by a legend in the industry! It felt (and still feels) amazing.
4- People were home and focusing on their logs
Fourth, people were stuck at home with little to do and bored. We stopped accepting logbook shipments early on in the pandemic and worked from home. To our surprise, our business shifted from 99% of our customers shipping us their logbooks for scanning to 99% of our customers scanning the logbooks themselves and sending us the PDFs! Pretty soon we found ourselves nearly overrun from the demand and we actually had to slow down on our sales efforts to ensure we could fulfill orders in a timely manner. We think this is what other entrepreneurs refer to as "growing pains" and "Champaign problems."
5- Never stop improving
Fifth, we didn't stop building, tweaking and improving our offering. As of this writing (February 8th, 2021), there were over 123 "commits" of new code documented in our extensive documentation since the launch in November of 2019. If you are logged in, you can view them all here. In reality, there were many more, but we didn't need to always make a change log entry for them. That means, on average, we released an improvement to our code base every 3.6 days. Many of these improvements were the result of listening to our amazing customer base who either reported bugs or offered ideas for new features. Here are a few of new major features we released in the span of just over a year:
- 12/6/2019 v1.2.0 What-If Scenarios for Maintenance Tracking
- 1/17/2020 v1.3.0 A public listings page where you can list your airplane for free
- 2/12/2020 v1.4.0 A feature-rich scheduler that lets you schedule flights, ground work, and maintenance with your other invited users or shops
- 6/6/2020 v1.9.3 Introduced a Fleet View shortly after ICON Aircraft chose us for their internal fleet (woo!)
- 7/2/2020 v1.9.6 Made it so you can download everything from your account in one click. That's your files, transcription work, and tracking info. As we have always said, it's your data. Do with what you wish!
- 9/17/2020 v2.0.0 Released our second version with a powerful API and Squawk management. We also made it so you can schedule both tracking items and squawks for maintenance with your mechanic.
- 11/11/2020 v2.1.4 Introduced Aircraft Equipment Lists which allows for quicker access to a list of primary equipment installed on your aircraft.
- 11/18/2020 v.21.7 Introduced new user roles so our customers can have more granular control over who they invite to access their data.
- 12/2/2020 v2.2.0 Introduced a Public Maintenance Record Generator so mechanics not on our system can conveniently generate maintenance records for your aircraft.
- 1/28/2021 v2.3.7 Added translation to maintenance record work descriptions. Instantly translate to/from 72 separate languages.
6- Be grateful
We are eternally grateful to the GA community for embracing us last year with open arms, and even more so to our customer base which has remained loyal since our inception with an MVP (minimum viable product) that "worked fine," but cannot compare to what we offer today. We have recently noticed that while other companies try to defame their competition in their blog posts, we think it is more productive and honorable to focus on improving ourselves and our product. We know that our product can stand alone and defend itself as a cutting edge piece of software that adds tremendous value to the aircraft owner/operator. We've always welcomed competition because it is a sign of a healthy market. When we started this, we were all alone and sometimes wondered if the community would actually want it (we knew they needed it). Turns out, we are on to something!