Secrets of Success: Randal Darby, CEO and Founder AirPortr
Randal Darby is on a mission to make the future of air travel more efficient, seamless, and sustainable.
Since its release, AirPortr has been adopted by some of the world’s largest airlines and airports, is trusted by over 100,000 travellers a year in the UK and growing as the allure of no lost baggage is finally a reality, whilst actively scaling into new markets in 2021. Randel shares his Secrets of Success with Business Matters …
What products or services do you provide?
We provide an airline integrated digital product which allows air passengers to have their bags picked up at home and checked-in before their flight. Our product also digitally clears baggage through Customs on arrival and delivers passengers’ bags to their final destination.
What type of businesses do you work with?
We work with businesses from across the air travel ecosystem: airlines and airports such as British Airways and Heathrow, baggage delivery couriers and ground handlers such as Swissport, and large aviation I.T. companies like Amadeus.
What problem does your company solve?
Baggage is a pain point and creates bottlenecks in the air travel journey – for passengers, airlines and airports. A large percentage of airport terminals are dedicated to baggage and as passenger volumes have increased, several airports have expanded to increase check-in and bag-drop facilities.
We created an interface whereby baggage can be picked up all over cities and processed in advance – this eases the strain on airport operations, reduces space requirements in terminals and delivers an improved passenger experience.
What are your company values? Have you ever had them challenged and if so how have you dealt with it?
Bad hires in the past led to a culture where people ended up concealing their concerns or problems. That experience led to our company values centring around openness, honesty and transparency, and it is key for the team to be able to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out”.
Are you happy to offer a hybrid working model of home/office post-covid?
Yes, absolutely. The hybrid approach has resulted in happier employees with no drop in productivity. In fact, we have achieved more in the last year than I believe we would have done in pre-Covid times. Personally, I love being able to go for a walk before starting my day instead of jumping on a train and I’m much better for it throughout the rest of my working day.
Any finance or cash-flow tips for new businesses starting out?
Keep costs as low as possible, and as flexible as possible, for as long as possible – until you have solid proof of concept. Having someone skilled at financial control and getting figures out fast is also key.
Scaling early, and therefore ramping up your burn, to keep competitive advantage can be very dangerous.
Don’t be tempted to build infrastructure or teams just because you have blind confidence that your product or start-up will succeed. Wait until the business comes in.
If you could ask one thing of the government to change for businesses what would it be?
It would be to make innovation grant funding less complicated for companies to access. It should also be more accessible for companies outside of the ‘life sciences’ field. Companies in this country have great visions to address climate crisis, help industries achieve sustainability targets, transforming or driving future transportation models. But if you speak to bid teams about innovation funding, they advise you that in reality your odds of success are slim, so you don’t burn the time you have little of pursuing these angles. I think the government needs to find ways to address this, if they are keen to support accelerated innovation and digitisation across a variety of industries.