The Entrepreneur of the Year Award, sponsored by AYR Aviation recognises those who have had significant success in business over the 12 months since June 2018, measured by their growth, profitability, flexibility, how they overcame challenges, and much more. Above all, it was awarded to an individual who demonstrated considerable entrepreneurial spirit, and, for 2019, that person was Army Veteran Steve Birdsall, with his technology company, Gaist Solutions Ltd.
Gaist Solutions was founded in 2007 and specialises in mapping the roadscape of key highways, both nationally and internationally, in order to gather data on their infrastructure, ensuring more efficient lifecycle planning for maintenance and structural development. They own data from the analysis of over 350,000km of roads, with their fleet of vehicles providing the most advanced imagery and analysis available. This data is then sold to highways operators, utility companies and travel technology companies. The company has proven to be highly adaptable and have had a hugely successful 12 months, notably adopting a ‘data as a service’ model, which has enabled them to secure a contract with the Department of Transport as their biggest customer, with the Roads Minister praising them as “one of the UK’s most innovative companies in its field” in evidence to Parliament. Alongside this they have received millions of pounds worth of investment, as well as a slew of industry awards and are now looking to the future with ever more ambitious plans.
Steve credits his attitude to entrepreneurialism to the Armed Forces, saying:
‘The Army built up my self-belief and taught me never to give up, no matter what the challenge. They taught me that success comes from self -belief which was only found when operating outside my comfort zone’.