IN this week's SME Focus we hear about a team of aviation entrepreneurs who built an international business on the back of an initial investment of £300.


Graeme Frater.

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What is your business called?

Cloud Global Ltd.

Where is it based?

Glasgow Airport.

What services does it offer?

Our organisation has three divisions.

The first is aircraft maintenance support for airlines and leasing companies including aircraft parts management and component leasing.

Airlines send us their requirements and we source the parts and send them a quote which can be for anything from a filter to an aircraft engine. On occasion when the aircraft is grounded due to a technical problem, we are required to ship the part immediately to minimise the length of time that the aircraft is out of service.

We also own and manage a fleet of general aviation aircraft that are leased to flying schools and clubs within the UK.

Finally, we offer specialist recruitment and advertising for the aviation industry on our partner jobsite AviationMatch.

Who does it sell to?

We have an international client base that includes over 17 different airlines across four continents including Emirates Airlines in Dubai, Atlas Air in New York and Mega Maldives Airlines. We also have a strong customer base in Scotland with aircraft on lease to Cabro Aviation at Aberdeen Airport and ACS Flight Training at Glasgow and Cumbernauld Airports. Our aircraft are often used for commercial flight training or trial flying lessons.

What is its turnover?

Our latest turnover was £2.1m

How many employees?

Currently the company is run by three directors and due to our rapid growth we are in the process of recruiting additional aviation expertise. We have already begun looking for someone to fill a marketing role and later on in the year we expect to take on another three people.

When was it formed?

November 2010.

Why did you take the plunge?

We were all working for the Scottish airline Flyglobespan when the airline collapsed in 2009, this was the catalyst to build our own business. Within weeks of the collapse we started planning our business.

With almost 40 years' experience in the industry between us, we understand the aviation industry requirements. We noticed gaps in the market which were in areas that we felt we could make a difference in, so we seized the opportunity to form a new company. We then spoke with Business Gateway Renfrewshire who have been supporting us through our journey. Ultimately, we felt we could offer the industry something that was missing and our success proves we were right.

What were you doing before you took the plunge?

I worked in Flyglobespan's operations control centre based in Edinburgh, while my business partners were based at Glasgow Airport; one as an airline pilot and the other as an aircraft engineering liaison manager.

How did you raise the start-up funding?

We started the business with £100 each and made sure we were very careful with our decisions. We used the £300 to set-up our IT network and launch our website which we felt was vital to our marketing and attracting international clients. To keep costs low in the initial months of setting up Cloud Global we were based from my home, however it was clear from pretty early on that we needed to source affordable premises. We identified Glasgow Airport as the ideal location to grow our business and we were delighted when we secured our office. We continue to carefully monitor our budget whilst reinvesting any profits in future growth and assets. Our latest purchase is a £319,000 Diamond DA42 Twin Star which is a four seat, twin engine aircraft that will be available for lease on 23rd March.

What was your biggest break?

It would have to be securing several lucrative contracts with airlines and maintenance companies around the world including major Middle Eastern carriers. We are now working closely with some of the world's fastest growing airlines and leasing companies, such as Apollo Aviation Group based in Miami, Florida and The Emirates Group based in Dubai, UAE.

What do you most enjoy about running the business?

One of the things that I enjoy most about running my own business is the fact each day is filled with new opportunities to challenge yourself, be creative and learn something new. These are things that you may not get in a routine job plus it's very rewarding to follow your passion. I also enjoy the fact that you can manage your own work/personal life balance.

What do you least enjoy?

Having your own business can be very time consuming, particularly when operating across three continents with different time zones. It means I hit the ground running every morning supporting clients in the Middle East and work with our associates in the USA in the evening.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

More growth. We have seen our business grow year on year and whilst we ensure that we consolidate our place in the market, we are aiming high and our 2015 target is to see a growth in sales of 25% whilst ensuring that we retain our existing client base.

What are your top priorities?

Offer a wider range of products and services; deliver world class customer service to our clients; upgrade our aviation jobsite using the market leading software; invest in our fleet of light aircraft to support UK General Aviation; expand our business into additional international markets - we see huge potential in some of the emerging markets in Asia and Africa.

What could the Westminster and/or Scottish governments do that would help?

Getting as much support as possible from official organisations can only benefit a business. We have been grateful to the advice and help we've received through Business Gateway Renfrewshire. As well as guiding us through the start-up process our adviser has helped us with marketing, strategy and signposting us to other support organisations such as Scottish DeveIopment International.

The continuation of the business rates relief through the Small Business Bonus Scheme is beneficial for SMEs in Scotland. The scrapping of Air passenger duty (APD) for children under 12 from May should give the aviation industry in the UK a boost.

What was the most valuable lesson that you learned?

Business is about building strong relationships - people buy from people.

How do you relax?

I enjoy spending time with the family. I have two young children so it's not always relaxing! I like to go to the gym or play tennis although I'm not quite at Andy Murray's level yet.