AeroCloud: How my background in sports fuelled entrepreneurial success

BizAge Interview Team

George Richardson is a former racing car driver turned co-founder and CEO of tech scaleup, AeroCloud, an intelligent platform that uses advanced technologies to streamline and optimise airport operations. As a former race car driver, George credits his background in sports to his entrepreneurial success, saying that without this previous career, he doesn’t think he’d be an effective founder. We spoke to George about his career in racing, how it has impacted him personally and the value that sportspeople bring to the startup landscape.

Hi George! Can you introduce us to AeroCloud?

AeroCloud’s mission is to become the leading provider of operation automation software for small to medium-sized airports across the world. The airport sector is still largely dominated by legacy technology, and we are revolutionising the sector by addressing the challenges that poses.

The major edge that AeroCloud software has on existing systems is that it is a 100% cloud-native solution, which better addresses airports’ complex operational needs. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) deliver real-time analytics into the hands of all stakeholders, empowering airports to streamline operations and enhance the overall passenger experience.

We think of ourselves as a one-stop-shop for airports’ operational technology requirements by offering a host of comprehensive passenger processing solutions and flexible common-use systems. These allow airlines to share desks and equipment within an airport to drive operational efficiencies and increase capacity for airlines in terminals. Finally, AeroCloud Optic takes innovation to new heights as an industry-first computer vision solution that gives airports the ability to track passengers anonymously and accurately from curb to gate.

In three years, we have formed partnerships with more than 47 airports in the UK, Europe and the US, including the likes of Manchester Airport and Tampa International Airport, with AeroCloud software being used to process more than 190million passengers annually.

Tell us about your career in racing?

I began competing in various on and off-road motorcycle championships and then progressed to racing cars from the age of 13. At 16, I progressed to a professional level and retired when I was 26. Since then, I have competed in over 160 professional races across the world. Highlights from my racing career include competing in the European Le Mans Series and being the youngest British ever driver to podium at the Indianapolis Brickyard.

As a driver, I had to essentially ‘launch’ myself as a business at the beginning of every racing year to gain sponsorship and racing opportunities. I reached a point in my career where I craved a fresh challenge, so I decided to take everything I’d learned, my contact book and move on while I was still at my peak. That was when I entered the world of true work!

How has this influenced the way you approached founding a business?

Several traits were instilled during my racing days that I believe were truly fundamental in starting AeroCloud.

The goal-orientated nature of professional competitive sports translates well to being a founder. Both involve strategic planning, breaking down objectives and adapting approaches for success. In racing, there was a goal to win and continue to improve my skills, and as a founder, I strive to hit business targets to drive growth.

Sportspeople need to be disciplined and have a strong work ethic. Training can be tough; schedules are strict; and you are constantly pushing yourself to your limits. The hangover from this mindset has definitely helped me in entrepreneurship as I’ve had to deal with long hours, constant setbacks and challenges.

Similarly, the resilience and adaptability needed as an athlete allowed me to bounce back from the inevitable hurdles and obstacles that come with starting a business. These are valuable attributes to navigate the startup world and its pressures and uncertainties.

How can skills and traits developed from sports be applied to leading a company?

Those with a sports background have an array of skills that make them good leaders. Most sports require collaboration with teams of diverse individuals, leveraging strengths and compensating for weaknesses to achieve collective success. In sports and startups alike, leaders need to excel at rallying people around a shared vision.

Leaders in both situations also need to be able to make critical decisions under pressure while inspiring their teams to overcome challenges together.

What value do you believe sportspeople bring to the startup ecosystem?

There are essential qualities that VCs look for in leaders when investing in startups – leadership, willingness to learn, and communication, for example, and I believe that sportspeople are highly likely to possess a lot of these traits because of their background.

Not only will they have those traits, but any records of their previous careers give provable evidence of this, which will be valuable throughout investment raising journeys.

Within sports, tenacity and a get-up-and-go attitude are critical, as is the ability to assess a problem and be resourceful in solving it. Business ultimately is competitive, and some people struggle to cope under this pressure, but those with a background in sports have either learnt to persevere or are innately drawn to competition and relish in it. Focusing on business and personal goals with these outlooks keeps the startup ecosystem dynamic and exciting.

Finally, 2023 was a great year for AeroCloud, what can we expect to see from you in the coming months?

Following raising £10.3 million in Series A funding, launching our proprietary computer vision passenger solution, AeroCloud Optic, and deploying our software to 60 customers, offices in the UK, and North America, respectively, since 2022, the future is looking very exciting for AeroCloud.

Our priority for the coming months is to expand our cloud-native platform into more small and medium-sized airports so that they can harness the benefits of artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline their operations.

We have been bolstering our leadership team to ensure we have the best minds working with us, and we are committed to expanding our team and hiring throughout 2024 as we grow further and continue to challenge the industry.

Written by
BizAge Interview Team
January 12, 2024
Written by
January 12, 2024