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When Does Passion Lead To Purpose?

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Gilo Cardozo is a man on a mission to create the ultimate flying machine. Watch how his very personal passion for flight eventually led him to find his company’s wider business purpose.

When Gilo started his company in Wiltshire in 2000, he had one simple and very personal purpose: to share his love of flying with other aviation enthusiasts. Working out of a garage, he built Parajets in the hope of getting as many people as possible into the air to experience what it feels like to see the world from a new perspective.


Gilo freely admits that when he started the company, he was too young and too inexperienced to think of how his work could make a significant and positive impact on society.

“As the business grows, obviously you start to learn more about the world and you see what its shortcomings are, what’s missing and whether you can use some of the technology you’re creating to make the world a better place,” he says.

Today, Gilo Industries works with defence and aerospace companies to design technology that is critical in improving businesses and aiding in crisis situations. The company is currently developing manned and autonomous aircraft that are more affordable and more agile than helicopters, enabling a more efficient way of dropping off supplies and equipment in hard to reach places around the world.

However, Jim Edmondson, the company’s CEO, says having fun is still a vital part of the firm’s vision: “The overall purpose of Gilo Industries is creating products that can help humanity become more efficient, and that’s what our ultimate goal is. But at the same time, we want to have a sense of fun, and so everything we do is with a sense of fun and trying to create positivity.”


The social purpose of Gilo Industries has developed organically over the years, but the pivotal point came when Gilo teamed up with TV survivalist Bear Grylls to create a Parajet that could fly over Mount Everest. Gilo says he almost bankrupted the company as he set out to develop a high-powered, lightweight engine that was up to the task. In 2007, they were successful. The expedition not only raised US$1 million for Global Angels projects across Africa, it propelled the company onto a global stage.

It was at this point that Gilo Industries grew from a company that catered just to sports enthusiasts to one that had a larger commercial clientele. Gilo and team built a new business called Rotron to develop their engine technology and look at areas that could help humanity, including surveillance, UAVs and outboard engines.

Gilo explains: “The key driver in our business has been making personal aircraft, but we needed special engines to do that and, in creating these special engines, we’ve then accessed other companies who need our engine technology. So we’ve made quite an impact in the industry in that sense. But where I see us moving in the future is in the way we apply our engine technology to our own aircraft, and that I see being much more significantly disruptive.”


When a company has a social purpose that creates value for others, it naturally increases its ability to drive profits and create sustainable growth. A clearly defined purpose enables a business to focus on strategy and deliver meaning to both its customers and employees.

Carrie Tucker, CFO of Gilo Industries and EY alumna, believes a social purpose and a commercial purpose go hand in hand: “We have our commercial perspective and our social perspective, and we won’t be able to fulfil our social purpose unless we can get the commercial element right.”

Gilo agrees that if you can address real world issues, you naturally create more market value. His dream is to continue to build machines with technology that allows us to move around the planet more efficiently than ever before.

Explaining what the future holds for aviation, Gilo compares it to the horse and cart. In the 1900s, no one could imagine today’s world where millions of cars travel safely around the planet. Gilo believes that’s what it will be like for us with the aircraft of the future: “We burn through 100 tons of fuel to fly 200 people from here to Hong Kong – it’s insane how much fuel we’re burning, and I think there’s just so much room for improvement. Yes, we accept it as the status quo, and it is amazing technology we use today, but it’s nothing compared with where we’re going.”

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