Why Arthur C. Clarke was only partially correct and how PaaS (Planes as a Service) will help fulfill his prediction
At the beginning of the Steve Jobs movie they show a clip where Arthur C. Clarke says the following:
“…every home will have a computer that is connected to the world. You’ll be able to check your bank statements, make theater reservations, etc., and we will take it all for granted. Computers will enrich our society and let us conduct business from wherever we like, allowing us to live away from major cities.”
Computers have indeed allowed us to view bank statements and make theater reservations and I certainly take those advances for granted on a daily basis. But the last part about computers letting us “conduct business from wherever we like” has not come true. Or rather, not the way we want to conduct business.
In spite of all the technological advances over the past few decades, people still want to do business with people they trust and trust is inherently baked into physical interaction. Over half of communication is non-verbal and that non-verbal communication is often lost through technology (like having a bad connection on a phone call). So, whether we like it our not, travel is destined to be part of our future if we wish to grow our businesses the way we want and need to.
So does that mean we are destined to sacrifice time and connections with family and friends in order to build successful businesses or can technology actually help us get where we need to get faster and more efficiently (and on an affordable cost basis)?
“There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” Audre Lorde
EDS — THE BEGINNING
When I’m asked to share the story of how RISE started it often begins an anecdote about the first time I experienced a private plane. I was immediately transfixed…not by the luxury but by the extreme efficiency as compared to commercial travel. This epiphany came to me in the middle of a crisis in conscience in my life where I thought I had to choose between being a great executive or a great husband, father and friend. The travel demanded of me was too much to be present with those that I love. To me, a private plane was a time machine that allowed me to have breakfast with my family, go to a meeting in another city and be back in time for soccer practice, it allowed me to have my cake and eat it too. Unfortunately for me my epiphany came at a price that I couldn’t afford. RISE was born out of the dream to make the private plane experience affordable to millions of travelers that otherwise would not have had the opportunity.
But, when I stopped to really think about it, I realized that singular experience was simply the trigger point for the idea. The bigger story of RISE goes all the way back to when I first graduated college and took my place among the rank and file at EDS (Electronic Data Systems)
THE MANUAL TO SCALABLE EVOLUTION
The area of the business that I worked in provided mainframe computing power to our customers. As a financial analyst (which was a generous title for the work I actually did) part of my job was to review the amount of MIPS (Millions Instructions Per Second) that was consumed of our mainframes. Once I reviewed the data, I would invoice the customer and do the corresponding journal entry to record the revenue. The MIPS represented a portion of the mainframe that was being used, on a monthly basis, for that particular customer.
Today we have the same principal in most hosting centers including Amazon Web Services, where a quick online signup process and credit card can get you instantaneous access to NASA-level computing power. With an account created, the web service scales based on the real-time needs of the business. If your online product suddenly becomes an overnight sensation because Ellen features it on her show, the servers flex as necessary to meet the demand. Once demand satiates the servers automatically roll back to the normal processing needs. No manual MIPS records required.
For the last 18 years I have been providing or using aspects of demand-based solutions through technology. In 2002, I implemeted salesforce.com (and also bought their stock) and watched in amazement as my sales team grew from 1 to 20. This concept of Software as a Service (SaaS as we now refer to it) was incredibly seamless, allowing me to simply add or delete a license based on the needs of the business.
In just a few short years, millions of businesses were transformed by of a myriad of SaaS products creating more efficiencies and cost savings through elimination of. those once expensive, time-consuming processes of installed solutions.
PLANES AS A SERVICE (PaaS)
It’s no secret that the travel industry has been upended by the sharing economy. From ground transportation to accommodations, this billion dollar industry has created new economies of scale centered around meeting demand for efficiency and accessibility.
With RISE, we are playing right into that hand through a term I coined called PaaS. RISE doesn’t own a single plane. Instead we create demand and then fulfill that demand with under-utilized inventory in the private aviation space.Using our proprietary technology, we can quickly and easily scale service to meet the needs of our growing membership base without the heavy capital burdens of plane ownership.
CREATION OF A TWO-SIDED MARKETPLACE
There are thousands of private planes in the US alone and on average they fly 287.3 hours/year. When RISE ratchets that up to just 1,100 hours we instantly increase their utilization by 300% on the same capital costs. In other words, the RISE model means we can sell a service on utility as opposed to the other complex and costly private jet services that involve paying for hours, purchasing a “jet card” or actually buying a plane. With this model we take the existing infrastructure and break it up according to the needs of the users right down to the seat level.
The historically stagnant airline industry is stymied by the sheer complexity of the business….hugely expensive assets requiring millions in maintenance that are then placed in a rigid network of slot times, gate restrictions and crew scheduling.
WIth RISE, we are doing what has never been done before by eliminating that complexity and employing technology to call on widely available assets as needed along with the pilots they employ. The ripple effect of this is huge. Not only are we creating a new form of business, we’re re-creating how people access air travel by building a model that closes the chasm between commercial and private flying.
And, in doing that, we are developing a two-sided marketplace that builds and bolsters existing businesses on the demand we generate through marketing, exceptional service and innovative products.
In only the first 18 months of operation, we have flown tens of thousands of member segments and are working with a number of operators to seamlessly scale up and down based on demand. Our PaaS vision is coming to fruition.
BREAKING IT ALL DOWN
Just as Ross Perot found a way to take a very expensive server and break it down into bite size pieces, RISE is doing the same thing with planes. Just as Salesforce found a way to instantly expand a sales team through the distribution of licenses, we are doing the same with flight demand.
As a 20-something sitting in a cubicle manually entering database entries, I never imagined I would one day take the observations of a rapidly evolving business world and apply them to the world of aviation.
The concept behind RISE isn’t new…it’s simply a tapestry of the disruptive ideas that preceded it. We’re just changing the way it’s experienced and felt.
THE TIME MACHINE
The trigger point of discovering I could find a way to access a new, more efficient way to travel is still the most important part of the RISE story because within that lies our purpose….the “why” of why we exist.
I was a road weary business traveler missing the most precious moments in life due to the inefficient and broken airline industry. Access to a private plane fixed that. Suddenly I no longer had to choose between my daughter’s dance recital and a board meeting in another city. It gave me the one thing I needed more than anything…time.
I am extremely proud of the fact that more than 70% of our members have never been on private plane before they fly RISE. These professionals stepped away from the soul crushing experience that is commercial air travel and onboard our flights allowing them to instantly gain back three hours each round trip.
With RISE, we are democratizing private air travel and, in doing so, we are giving time and dignity back to people in the process. The RISE team has created PaaS and we will all be better for it as we continue to grow and allow you to “conduct business from wherever like”