Flying Software Labs: From CIO to CEO-An Opportunity Seized

Jack Garzella, CEO It all began in 2008, when Jack Garzella, while upgrading his license to fly multi-engine twins, noticed that the software being used by the flight-training center was inadequate and inflexible. “Upon further inquiry and research, I found it hard to believe that most of the flight schools still used software that was cluttered, non-integrated and sometimes very expensive for the value that was delivered," says Garzella. This marked the beginning of the concept for Flying Software Labs and the MyFlightSolutions suite. Garzella, who held senior positions with Teradata, Overstock.com, Excite@Home, and Oracle was soon approached by several flight schools—starting with the one where he first identified the lag—to create a viable solution, which later became MyFlightTrain, the first product in the MyFlightSolutions Suite.

Conceived by accident but built with determination, Flying Software Labs’ initial goal was to create an integrated management system for flight training to support Part 61, Part 141 and 142 operations. The solution, MyFlightTrain, is shaped to be a 100 percent integrated and paperless system via Web and mobile applications. The system facilitates integrated scheduling, dispatch, billing, and aircraft maintenance with a ‘robust’ client configurable compliance engine that meets Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations. Over time, the company has turned it into a full suite of general aviation software with a modern interface and mobile access via the MyFlightSolutions suite.

Now, a few short years later but with that focus and determination, Flying Software Labs has recently launched Version 2 of the MyFlightSolutions suite, which is integrated with four new modules along with the existing MyFlightTrain module. The full suite is selling well. “We are expecting a busy year ahead as we have more than 800 customers in the backlog for our FBO, Maintenance, and Charter product. Our products have been well received in the aviation industry and we are excited to expand in other areas of the industry,” states Garzella.

Pioneering Technology into Aviation Back-Office

Flying Software Labs knew from their previous business and software experience, the key is to integrate the four new modules with the existing MyFlightTrain module. All these products share the same information like customers, contracts, and billing, although each has very specific workflow designed for the front desk person, the dispatcher and the line person at the Fixed-Base Operator (FBO). While ‘MyFlightCharter’ is a full-featured solution for charter operators as well as private operators; ‘MyFlightMXShop’ is designed to address the needs of standard maintenance shops and FAA authorized Part 145 repair stations.


We are running at internet and Silicon Valley growth speed, where aviation tends to be of slow growth


‘MyFlightFBO,’ a sought after product, has state-of-the-art point of sale interface and manages the logistics (moving aircraft, fuelling, Lavatory service, hangar move) with integrated billing for both the FBO and any connected Charter flights; and ‘MyFlightRecords,’ is meant for aircraft and piolot logbooks. These products benefit customers by reducing the compliance costs by using pilots, aircraft and mechanics more efficiently, and cutting down the back office time needed for compliance and billing. “It is hard to realize profits in aviation and we are here to change that. Our clients have seen, on an average, about 35 percent increase in revenue and 85 percent decrease in compliance costs. That is real money,” states Garzella, CEO at Flying Software Labs.

For instance, one of Flying Software Labs’ initial customers based out of Las Vegas was running a complex business comprising of charter operations to the Grand Canyon, Vegas tours, a large flight training operation that works for two different colleges, local police force training, search and rescue training, and a maintenance operation. To maintain such a multifaceted business, the customer required a solution with features like integrated billing, maintenance, scheduling, and dispatch system that could work together, and facilitate scheduling and dispatch training flights as well as charter flights. The company approached Flying Software Labs to define an integrated solution that allowed them to grow their business. The client has now acquired two more charter companies and offers training services to seven colleges compared to two when Flying Software Labs first worked with them.

Another customer of Flying Software Labs from Salt Lake was able to grow its business by 400 percent in about two and a half years. Although the client had all the potential, the owners and chief instructors were chasing accounting, FAA training records, aircraft maintenance, and other processes. Once Flying Software Labs came in with their integrated system, the customer was able to concentrate on “running the business” versus “business running them.”

A Barbell Management Team

“All this has been possible because we have a barbell management team. What I mean by that is we have a management team that is very experienced in Aviation and in running high growth software companies,” says Garzella. The company’s board comprises of members with deep expertise in industries from aviation to finance along with industry visionaries. This experience is teamed with young minds that understand modern internet technology, mobile applications, and data.
“With an experienced management team and a deep technical team, we can react quickly to product changes and customer needs. We are running at internet and Silicon Valley growth speed, where aviation tends to be of slow growth and slow to change.”

The team’s deep background in data analytics, database systems, and big data systems has further helped Flying Software Labs to develop Analytical Dashboards that are more than graphs and reports. “Since my background was in large data warehousing, and exposing data to business users, I was astonished at how little business analytics was being done in aviation,” says Garzella. Recognizing the need for analytics to help customers make optimal usage of resources, Flying Software Labs created active dashboards that allow for custom metrics and have full “drill down” capability. They can be manipulated to change the graph, add variables, change filters, and add custom metrics according to the need of the customers’ business. Often, businesses with growth goals that want to optimize their operational excellence choose to add the Analytical Dashboard option to their MyFlightSolutions system.

"Our clients have seen, on an average, about 35 percent increase in revenue and an 85 percent decrease in compliance costs"

Philosophy that Drives Creativity

The aviation industry back-office is about 15 years behind the times with respect to technology, and Flying Software Labs is jump-starting it into 2016 technology with modern interfaces and by introducing data analytics. The company excels at understanding and addressing individual customer needs and emphasizes on 2 primary goals—to offer the ‘easiest-to-use and feature-rich products,’ and provide the ‘best customer service’ not just in aviation but the SaaS industry as well. The mantra that keeps the company going and achieving new heights is based on two philosophies; Never make the Same Mistake Twice and GOBOSH (Go Big or Stay Home). Garzella highlights, “I’m aggressive and like to go fast, and when you go big and fast, you will make some mistakes. The key is to quickly solve the mistakes and never repeat them.” The company has recorded an impressive 347 percent growth in the number of customers in the last 18 months and is expecting to reach a growth of about 1000 percent over the next 18 months.

In the coming years, Flying Software Labs is planning to expand its product line by releasing two major aviation oriented software solutions, MyFlightCoPilot and MyFlightAirports. The company has also merged with its joint venture partner Vessix, Inc., for virtual payments and merchant services that will allow customers of Flying Software Labs to save time and service fees. “We are expecting a busy year ahead as we have more than 800 customers in the backlog for our FBO, Maintenance and Charter product. Our products have been well received in the aviation industry and we are excited to expand in other areas of the industry,” states Garzella.

Company
Flying Software Labs

Headquarters
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Management
Jack Garzella, CEO

Description
Offers integrated systems (scheduling, billing, FAA compliance) via web based SaaS and mobile platforms

Flying Software Labs