Co-Founder & CEO of ForeFlight
TBHF Alum, Class of 2005
This month TBHF is spotlighting Tyson Weish, a 2005 Future Texas Business Legend Award recipient from Rice University. We asked Tyson to share his entrepreneurial journey and offer some advice for aspiring business leaders.
You founded ForeFlight in 2007 in your garage. When did you know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Both of my parents were self-employed. My father was in the restaurant business and my mother was an artist. Entrepreneurship was in the DNA from the very beginning. My grandparents also had their own business, so it ran in the family. Growing up in a restaurant, I was exposed to entrepreneurship at a young age.
In college I was constantly searching for business ideas to pursue.
How did you originally become interested in aviation?
I went to work for a software company in South Caroline in 2000 after the software crash. That company was run by pilots – the CEO, the CTO, the investors – were all pilots. That culture is easy to get attracted to. My boss took me up in his Mooney in 2001, right after I started working there, and I got the bug.
ForeFlight Mobile, an application used by both individual pilots and professional flights crews to flight plan, check weather, and manage aircraft profiles, is your flagship product. You launched your company right around the same time the iPhone came out. How did that technology impact the industry and influence the future of ForeFlight?
There was a series of big tech disruptions in the initial days of the company that influenced the direction of Foreflight. My co-founder and I had been toying with the idea of starting our business . The iPhone was announced in early 2007. We realized that this was an interesting premise – a new computing platform. We had Blackberrys at the time, but we bought an iPhone and immediately knew this was different and exciting. It became clear we were going to build software for this new technology. And that gave us the push to officially launch the business in 2007.
Then in 2008, Apple launched the App Store. We were one of the first applications for that. Not long after, the iPad came out in 2010. The phone, the app store, and the iPad – these were three big milestones that Major computing platforms don’t come around very often and gave us the opportunity to build something new and exciting.
How do you define “excellence” in business?
It starts with building an exceptional product that customers love and therefore want to do business with. The next step is building an exceptional team that is capable of providing exceptional service. That results in a profitable and healthy business. If you have fanatical customers, a culture and team that loves working there, and can deliver an exceptional experience, you will be successful.
Entrepreneurship has its fair share of challenges. What trait or characteristic do you think has benefitted you the most in your entrepreneurial journey and helped you weather those storms?
Persistence and faith. You have to believe in what you are working on and have faith that it is valuable, and time well spent. In the early days, we had a tremendous amount of competition from companies like Garmin and Boeing. We were able to get to – and stay – on top. That wouldn’t have happened without the team’s persistence and faith in the company.