When Alek Vernitsky and Alek Strygin sold their company, GetGoing, their original investors approached them with a question.
As owners of jets themselves, the investors were frustrated that they were unable to get a deeper understanding of the financial and operational data about their aircraft. They felt that their aircraft were being well managed, but still wanted to get deeper into the data to carry out more-sophisticated analyses.
“They were surrounded by financially savvy people,” explains Vernitsky, “and they were financially savvy themselves, but in business aviation, they could not get it.”
Intrigued by the issue, Vernitsky and Strygin got together again to form a new company called Portside and created a reporting platform for aircraft owners.
The platform that Portside built allows aircraft owners to report on the aircraft on both a financial and on an operational basis. But it also allows them to be able to communicate in a timelier manner with both their flight department and their management company.
Vernitsky says this is a platform that can help aircraft owners approve charter requests from their management company or arrange a flight for their aircraft rather than over the phone.
“It is not a ground-breaking idea, but for business aviation it is a first — one whereby a client can just log into the system and request a flight.” Adds Vernitsky.
Portside says that it already has a sizable number of clients using the system although until a few months ago these were all aircraft owners. The addition of new functionality into the system has opened it up to aircraft-management companies.
The uptake of the platform by aircraft-management companies has been almost unanimous, although Vernitsky is keen to point out that the managers are rolling the platform out to owners one by one.
“Over time, they believe that everybody would prefer to have a more technologically advanced solution.” He says.
The Portside platform is modular, with clients able to pick and choose which parts they want to use. As well as a smartphone application it is also available on desktop computers.
Depending on the level of integration that the clients want to incorporate into their own systems, Portside is often able to help with getting the systems to talk to each other.
This is easier with financial systems, where Vernitsky says that Portside can easily integrate with upwards of 1,700 different systems. For operational systems, it is a little harder. The more commonly used systems are straightforward to integrate, but aircraft managers frequently use their own in-house systems which, if they don’t have their own API (Application Programming Interface), can make things harder.
The main aim for the company when it was set up was to help private owners, although as the platform fleshed out it became obvious that it could also be rolled out to aircraft managers and commercial operators.
“The list of things that people have asked us to include is endless. For example. people want sophisticated tax reports. On audit and compliance, we have completed the ‘first pass’, but there is a whole lot more that we could be doing.”
One area in which the company has seen a lot of feedback in is in aircraft maintenance. The platform includes maintenance information, but Portside says it sees this area as one that their clients would like more information about and, so, will be expanded soon.
Portside initially raised capital to start the company through venture funding, and Vernitsky says that the key difference is that most of the investors own aircraft themselves and have a deep understanding of business aviation.
“If we continue delivering on plan, as we have been to date, at some point we will need to raise another round of financing, and that will probably be the last one.”