Andy Hakes, EVP of AireXpert, speaks on his work and Buffalo

Last week I had the chance to sit down and chat with Andy Hakes. Andy is the current EVP at AireXpert and is a pioneer and expert in the aviation technology space. He talked about his line of work, his care for his work, and his thoughts on the Buffalo tech scene:

How did you get started in your field and in technology?

“I’ve worked in the airline industry for almost 30 years, and AireXpert started as a result of recognizing a recurring problem which seemed to affect every airline on a daily basis. . Over the course of my career, I’d been fortunate enough to support 40-50 different airlines and Irealized that every airline was feeling the same pains and dealing with the same challenges. That is when we began to think of how we could alleviate some of those issues. What started out as just an idea a long time ago eventually developed into something a bit more concrete , and then we reached a point at which we could put something down on paper. Once the technology was available that could support what we wanted to do, then we were rolling. We started developing software and from there things have really taken off. Now we are at the point where we work with and support several airlines.

What is it about technology that keeps you interested?

“I think that for myself and for my team we always think of technology as tools to solve real world problems. On one hand I like the use of technology that creates opportunities to make the world a smaller place and to educate (like social networks), but the application of those technologies when they solve real world problems is what really drives me.

Biggest challenge you have faced in your career?

“I think by and large, our two biggest challenges have been building the right team, and raising capital. Fortunately, as the business climate has improved in the area it has opened a lot of opportunities in both areas as networks and knowledge have become available , but traditionally those were the biggest problems that we’ve faced

What mistakes have helped you in your career?

“Every one of them have helped me, some so much that I keep making them! . I have actually learned a really important lesson from those, and that is that you can make a lot of mistakes and you’ll still be okay…as long as every once in a while you make some good decisions. . The mistakes by themselves will not kill you. I think that one of the biggest mistakes I made was focusing more on the solutions and the technology rather than the team. If I were to do it over I would go back and focus more on building the right team rather than getting lost in the excitement of creating and building technology.”

Most rewarding part of your job?

“I’m an industry guy. Most of my work has been spent trying to get people from point A to point B quickly and safely. For the first 25 years of my career the most rewarding part was making that happen and being a part of that strictly on a local basis. The most rewarding part now is being a part of a team instrumental in making flights depart and arrive on time and safely around the world. Much like Buffalo, the airline industry is a small community and it’s intensely satisfying to have your work play a crucial role on such a wide scale.

Is there a book/blog/podcast that has helped you in your career?

“There are two books that come to mind, and the first is The E-Myth. That is one I read a long time ago and while I enjoyed it and learned from it I really didn’t understand at the time the tremendous impact that it was going to have on my career. The second book I would recommend is Crossing the Chasm. I’ve also become somewhat of a Tim Ferriss podcast addict. I find it to be fascinating and captivating that he can pull insights and lessons from the top players in industry and life.

Any advice for someone just starting out in technology?

“Just start. Even if you don’t know how to build or sell something, do something, anything that moves you just a little closer to solving the problem that you’ve identified. I know a lot of people that have ideas swirling around in their heads and maybe they are great ideas, maybe they are half baked, or maybe they are not viable at all. You simply do not know until you jump in and start making mistakes. I think the value of makingmistakes is understated and undervalued. . I would also immerse yourself in a community like z80 Labs in the sense that they’re just a bunch of like minded people that are just trying to make things happen and make their dreams come true.

Thoughts on the Buffalo tech community?

“When AireXpert was just a half baked idea and we didn’t have any software or a team, the tech scene was barely in its infancy. I was fortunate enough to have conversations with people who wanted to create a tech community and had some ideas that were just not yet finalized. The financial community did not understand the tech community, and vice-versa. However, now that has all changed. Everything is so interconnected right now, and one of the values of being in this regional network is your are so connected to everyone not just in the tech scene but in the finance sector.           You’re never far from people who are very smart and very influential There has been some really explosive growth recently and who knows where it will go from here.”

Any exciting projects you are currently working on?

“We have actually recently strengthened our team in sales and business development capacities. We are currently in the midst of a capital raise and are now working with a number of airlines. The response we have been getting from our solution has just been fantastic, so the next 6 months to a year are going to be really challenging and exciting!”

Thank you to Andy for taking the time to come and share his passion with us! Have any questions or comments? Leave them below!


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