An interview with Alek Vernitsky, the CEO of Portside, a San Francisco based technology company revolutionizing financial management of aircraft.
Can you tell our readers about Portside?
We built Portside to simplify and modernize financial management of private aircraft. For owners, we are a data, reporting and business analytics platform that can instantly answer any financial question about their aircraft and help them quickly make important decisions. For operators, our system is the financial nerve center, collecting and reporting on all relevant financial data and operational events in one place, be it charter management, owner reporting, maintenance management, etc.
What kind of clients do you serve?
Portside serves two distinct customer groups. On the one hand, we have private aircraft owners, family offices, CFOs and corporate boards / flight departments, who are interested in gaining complete visibility into their aircraft’s operations and financials. What they get is data, in the form of detailed reports, charts, and metrics, with ability to quickly understand and analyze the data. The second group are those in the business of flying: management companies, charter operators, flight departments, aviation accountants and tax professionals. For this group, we provide a system of record for everything related to the financial aspects of flying.
What are some of the specific things you do?
Portside helps aircraft owners with all of the above, and I can provide a few specific examples. Portside is the only company on the market with a Maintenance Plan Analytics solution. Once we have the data on how much an owner spends an various maintenance related expenses, it only takes a click to see if a particular aircraft would benefit from an engine maintenance or an avionics parts plan. Another tool available to owners is called Mission Analyzer. It takes owner’s specific flight data and superimposes a different aircraft to give the owner an idea of what it would cost to fly the same missions using a different aircraft. All calculations are based on real expense data collected from other Portside users. We can also calculate the savings (or an additional expense) of trading the owner’s existing aircraft for another model. There are other tools available, from benchmarking fuel costs, to providing a paper trail for a tax audit, all with a view towards helping owners optimize their operating expenses.
Do most corporations really care about cutting costs when it comes to their private fleets?
Similar to individual owners, there is no one size fits all. Many corporations are doing an excellent job of managing their private aviation department and are not looking for savings, but would use our software for compliance and oversight functions, for example, to provide detailed reports to the CFO, the Board of Directors, or a trustee. Many corporations attempt to fit their aviation data into a larger enterprise management system, such as Oracle or SAP, and we would like to think that Portside is an alternative that’s easier to use, was purpose-built for the aviation department, and contains advanced functionality not available in any other system.
How did your relationship with European clients come about? Do you travel to Europe often?
All of Portside‘s European customers were referrals from our existing US customers or European investors. We now travel to the Europe (London, Paris, Geneva) several times a year to work with our existing customers and potential customers.
Are there differences between your European and American clients?
There may be differences driven by location (with European customers flying internationally more frequently than U.S. based customers) and aircraft (our European customer base tends to fly “heavier” planes), but there are no real differences. Private aircraft owners are sophisticated, successful people who demand the best and are equally appreciative of a data-driven approach to making major financial decisions irrespective of where they live.
What’s the biggest misconception about owning a private jet?
New owners tend to think that plane ownership is either easy or hard & unpredictable. Neither is exactly true. Planes are expensive, complex assets, more akin to owning and managing a business than, say, owning a car. As with any business, having the right team and systems in place is key to making it run smoothly.
Any other comments?
If you own or manage an aircraft, and want to speak to us, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org