SkySchool is a seriously cool British Adventure Sports company, specialising in Paramotoring, Paragliding and Skydiving. Set up in 2005 by Alex Ledger, a self-proclaimed university drop-out, it’s done pretty damn well for a bloke who jokingly referred to himself as ‘unemployable’.
Europe’s leading Paramotoring school, SkySchool runs an array of courses in Spain and the UK, boasting highs including Flying For Heroes, which saw SkySchool flying eight wounded ex-military personnel across Kenya in custom built paratrikes. Check out the expedition video below and catch a glimpse of some once in a lifetime stuff.
So if you’ve ever found yourself sitting at your desk wondering how to go about setting up a business, read on and be inspired…
Over to you, Alex…
Can You Tell Us A Bit About What You Do?
I’m a British Adventure Sports Athlete and Managing Director of SkySchool, which specialises in teaching people how to fly Paragliders and Paramotors in the UK and Spain. I also run APPI PPG, the International Paramotor Association, and I’m the founder of Flying for Heroes, which provides flying training and expeditions for wounded, injured and sick British service personnel.
What Was Your Previous Experience Before Starting Your Business?
I opted out of University after one lecture and instead qualified as a skydiver, scuba diver and snowboard instructor in 2003 while travelling on my own around the world for a year.
What Inspired You To Start Your Business?
I was brought up in a Military family and spent 3 years as a child in Cyprus rock climbing, snorkelling, cliff diving etc. During that time I developed an adventurous streak and after leaving school it became apparent that I was not only addicted to adventure sports but also unemployable! So it was a no brainer to start my own adventure sports business and when I was offered the opportunity in 2005 to take over a flying school, I jumped at the opportunity!
How Did You Manage To Build Your Business?
I started small and grew organically. I focused on providing as good and as safe a service as possible while maintaining good lines of communication. This meant that clients recommended us to others and returned themselves and as the company’s reputation grew, more and more people came to us. I also focused on cash flow, especially during the recession. Too many people have unrealistic expectations and try to run before they can walk which invariably leads to problems!
What’s Been The Biggest Highlight?
The biggest financial highlight was securing a six figure contract in the Middle East. However, this pales into insignificance compared to the Flying for Heroes expedition in Kenya which took 2.5 years to pull off and has led to some exciting plans for the future.
What Is Flying For Heroes About?
Flying For Heroes is a not for profit enterprise providing pilot training scholarships for wounded services personnel and veterans. It launched in July 2014 with an initial eight trainee student pilots. After their training, the pilots undertook a three week expedition flying Paratrikes and Paramotors across Kenya in partnership with Help For Heroes.
What’s The Goal Of Flying For Heroes?
It’s important that we recognise the bravery and sacrifices given by our wounded soldiers, sailors and airmen and to demonstrate to potential employers the capabilities, positive attitude and determination shown by all those who have served our country, been injured and are looking for new opportunities.
Learning to fly is an exciting, rewarding and enriching experience. Flying For Heroes aims to create a bursary to continue offering flying scholarships to our wounded heroes.
What Was The High-Point Of The Trip?
Being flown First Class to Kenya by British Airways was a pretty nice start!
What’s Been The Biggest Challenge?
There have been so many big challenges. One of the biggest is continuing to improve one’s skills and knowledge without losing focus. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several exciting projects to get stuck into which not only allow the business to grow and develop but also keep me focused while continuing to improve and evolve.
What’s Your Favourite Service From Your Offering?
My favourite activity is Acro Paragliding. I only teach this to people who I think have the correct skills and mentality as it comes with big risks but unbelievable rewards! This recent video sums it up.
How Do You Build Your Client Base?
Professionalism, reputation, good marketing, good web presence, good videos/photos/social media content and good communication with potential clients.
What’s The Best Compliment You’ve Received?
‘Thanks for making my dream of learning how to fly come true’.
What Advice Would You Give To Budding Entrepreneurs?
I always advise any entrepreneur interested in starting a business to write a business plan. I think this is absolutely critical as you learn so much about what you are potentially getting yourself into. “Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance”, as they say! I also advise that while running your own business brings a lot of freedom, be prepared for hard work.
What’s Next For You?
My next big project is a secret at the moment I’m afraid! It’s not quite as mad as the 2009 Flying Car project I was involved in but it’s just as quirky and, if I get it right, much more viable as a business!
How Can We Contact You?
SkySchool Website: www.skyschooluk.com
Flying for Heroes: www.flyingforheroes.org
What’s Your Favourite Quote?
Tell Us Something We Didn’t Know About You….
I used to be in the choir at school but can’t sing for sh*t now!