By Brett McKay
Edmonton-based Air Trail has been quietly growing its airline business over the past five years, relying on referrals and direct sales to build its customer base among aviation customers who aren't on most people's radars.
"It's a pretty in-the-background type of business ... Regional aviation tends to be very focused on putting your nose down and just getting the job done," said Bradley Poulette, founder and CEO of Air Trail, noting that his company ends up acting similarly.
Air Trail provides compliance automation software that helps pilots and airlines track operational details that must be reported to regulators like Transport Canada, replacing the paper records or in-house spreadsheets companies tend to use for crew tracking, flight and maintenance logs, and weight and balance. The software is geared towards what Poulette called the behind-the-scenes but crucial operators that people don't typically think of when they think of an airline – medevac pilots, crop dusters, charter flights, and the like.
Sales cycles are long in the aviation industry, so some of the deals closed during Air Trail's time in the accelerator were already in the pipeline, Poulette said. "However, I will also say that there were opportunities that were in our pipeline that were stuck, that GrowthX helped us to unlock," he added.
Pilots often fly thousands of trips a year, with thousands more logs to complete for each flight. It's easy for mistakes to happen given the cumbersome and time-consuming paperwork mixed with quick turnarounds and packed schedules.
"For example, oftentimes someone could miss putting a signature on a document or put the wrong date or something like that. And it takes a human being to go through each individual record," Poulette explained. "So it takes a lot of time for these operators to go through and catch errors like that. Whereas Air Trail not only helps them to catch errors like that, but it also helps them to prevent errors that are easily preventable when they're being entered to begin with."