For our first Member Spotlight, we're very happy to introduce Mike Lehan of Ground Control Skydiving, software for skydiving centres.
So Mike, what is your background and how did you end up becoming an entrepreneur?
Completely by accident! I graduated in Engineering, but was doing freelance web development. Skydiving is a hobby of mine, and an early web contract with a skydiving centre turned into a product that generated interest with other businesses in the industry. A business model soon emerged and I took the leap to see where it would lead.
Tell me about Ground Control, gcskydiving.com
It's a software as a service system that manages every aspect of a skydiving centre, from things common to many businesses such as accounts and staff, through to more unique features such as "manifest", the practice of allocating customers, instructors and pilots to aircraft. It benefits centres by providing a seamless interface to a large amount of data which has to be altered and organised quickly when the centre is operating, as well as integrating with existing websites, taking bookings straight into the management system along with payments and automated emails to customers. Long term, it aims to help the centres go completely paperless, without adding a new reliance on any one hardware setup.
What do you like most about Manchester?
It's a city that has everything without being overwhelming. The only things it lacks when compared to London are high prices and long commute times! You can live in walking distance of the centre without a huge budget. Areas like the Northern Quarter provide an ever changing landscape of entertainment, and further from the centre there's a growing movement of community centred organisations in areas such as Moss Side and Rusholme.
Why did you choose TechHub Manchester? Has the community been helpful?
I heard about TechHub through my involvement in the social side of Manchester's tech scene, at a time I was looking for a new place to work. Being around other people doing their own startups, whether early or later stage, is helpful on its own, and combine that with sharing ideas, experience and contacts and it becomes essential to get involved with the community.
What's a piece of advice you would give to a budding entrepreneur?
The same everyone else does; work in something you know, there really is nothing like being a user entrepreneur. Once you have a product, spend as much time interacting with your users as possible - they'll always show you something new, even if it's that they don't understand what you thought was obvious!
One random or silly fact about yourself
I was once a leader at Cub Scouts and was nicknamed Darth Vader, for no reason I've yet been able to work out.
Thanks, Mike! We'll be looking for any similarities with Darth Vader and will be avoiding eye contact... Looking forward to seeing what other exciting projects arise!