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Ignition Law News & Igniting the Spark

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IGNITING THE SPARK with Jim Edmondson, Gilo

Remember the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where the car sprouts wings and propellers and begins to fly? Well we spoke to Jim Edmondson, the CEO of Gilo Industries, the company that have created a flying practical car and anything else that’s futuristic and has to do with engines. This month sees the launch of Gilo Industries latest company and product Mako Board Sports Ltd, that makes a powered surfboard or JetBoard. We had an interesting chat with Gilo Industries, Jim about life in general and what makes him tick.

Mako Board
Mako Board

The moment that ignited the spark in me…

I saw a TV programme which featured Gilo, a self-taught engineer obsessed with aviation, and his close friend Bear Grylls. In 2007 Gilo and Bear made a documentary called Mission Everest the idea being that they would fly over the world’s tallest mountain on a foot launched aircraft, the only aircraft which you don’t need a licence for. I was totally inspired by the programme and especially by Gilo and his love of adventure.

I was living on an island in Scotland at the time and came down to London for a job interview. I saw Gilo at the train station and recognised him from the TV programme. I introduced myself and sat next to him for 2 hours on the train and we chatted and got to know each other. After a few further conversations, Gilo took me on as his 4th employee.

The thing that’s most surprised me since I made that move is…

If I look back at things now, everything was a surprise. We had a big vision but didn’t know which direction things were going, I just had a feeling we were creating something amazing. The whole journey has been uncertain but exciting.

The toughest challenge we’ve faced is…

It would have to be the transition from employing 20-25 people to employing 40-50 people. As the company has become bigger it’s been difficult to put processes in place and yet retain our agility, flexibility and Gilo’s unique flair that gives Gilo Industries its culture. There’s so much help out there for SMEs and corporates, but not much for the companies in the middle.

Our biggest success has been…

From a business perspective, we’ve had a lot of success. I cannot be credited personally for any one achievement as this has been a team effort all the way. We recently sold a minority stake in the business for $30m which has been a major achievement, but means we’re at the beginning of a tough challenge.

Getting geeky, our biggest success is one of Gilo’s driving ideas which has been to develop the most powerful ‘power to weight ratio’ engine in the world, that’s our unique selling point. The smaller and lighter you make an engine, the harder it is to run for a long time.

We just hit a milestone with one of our engine models that powers small helicopters and we can make it fly for 1000 hours, whereas typically those engines only last for 150 hours. A great achievement for a little company from Dorset who has effectively changed the face of the market.

I’m very good at…

Ha ha, I am not sure I would say I am very good at any one thing however, I enjoy, looking at other peoples’ problems and thinking of solutions. That’s what I enjoy the most.

The type of person we look to recruit into my organisation is…

Someone who fits the business in terms of cultural fit. The first interview that the candidates go through is an informal chat with various members of the company. The team judge the applicant on how “Gilo” they are, i.e. are they inspired by life, are they innovative, what are their hobbies? We believe everything else can be taught, but the cultural fit is a fundamental requirement for us.


The part of my day I most look forward to is…

I’m a morning person so the best part of the day for me is between 6am and before lunch. I’m excited about what the day holds, I’ve been with Gilo for 9 years and still feel like this every single day. We want everyone who works for Gilo to feel this way, to be happy and to really enjoy their working life. Negativity breeds negativity and that’s something we don’t want.

If I could give my 18-year old self one piece of advice it would be…

I’m a lot more motivated now than when I was when I was 18. Back then I was filled with self-doubt and wasted time worrying about what people thought about me, you never get that time back again.

Outside of work I can be found…

I have 3 boys between the ages of 10 and 7 we go on lots of adventures: from building dens to camping, surfing, sailing and swimming. Gilo has 4 children, 3 of them are boys. I’m godparent to one of his boys and vice versa. We spend lots of time at his house, which is like one huge den!

On a personal level, I’ve just got into boxing, I love it because it takes over your whole body: both physically and mentally. If you make even a small mistake then there can be severe consequences.

My philosophy on life is…

Most of us are “human doings” rather than “human beings”, we spend too much of our time doing. At Gilo we wanted to create a product that takes your breath away. The quote on our website would have to be my mantra “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

If I was asking the questions, I would want to know…

When can we get the Ignition Law team on a Mako JetBoard?

What I like about working with Ignition Law…

I like the fact that with Ignition Law we can work together at a fair price and you’re not obsessed with billing hours and operating like a machine. I don’t like the ethos of large law firms: huge and expensive office spaces in London that bill clients for every minute/hour worked. Ignition Law allows their employees to work where and how they like, they let their employees be passionate about life and law and that culture spreads through the firm. Everyone should be passionate about what they do.

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