Here you will see articles posted by a whole range of people at Inzpire; brilliant people from a brilliant company that is taking the defence world by storm.
Our hashtag is #revolutionindefence – and we mean it. This first blog describes where we have come from and where we are heading to. It tells you a little about our journey, our people, our successes, our vision, our beliefs and our future destination.
So let’s start at the beginning:
The idea for Inzpire arose over lunch in a restaurant called “Simpsons in the Strand” in London and shortly afterwards, in May 2005, Inzpire took its first steps. That was the year of the 7/7 bombings in London, the year Prince Charles married Camilla and the year the Airbus A380 made its maiden flight in Toulouse. Top of the charts in the UK that summer was “Is this the way to Amarillo?”
The company was founded with £300 share capital by three people: Mark Boyes, Ian Ansell and me. It took us quite a while to work out what to call the company. We toyed with several different company names but in the end we settled on InSpire. However, when we checked the Companies House register, we found that the name InSpire had already been taken, so we put a Z in it and InZpire was born.
So there we were: 3 people, 3 hundred pounds and a big bag of hope. We had no premises, no employees, no reputation, no money and no real idea what to do next. We did however have a small brass nameplate with Inzpire Ltd written on it, which Ian Ansell said he would hang on his garden shed. Indeed, for the first few years our Registered Office was Ian’s House (or shed!)
That was the genesis moment, the moment of ultimate risk. It is said that all great journey’s start with a single step and this was ours. Since that first step, we have been putting one foot in front of the other ever since, sometimes fast and sometimes slowly, but always moving forward to a better place.
Very quickly we learned that being in business was going to much harder than we had initially thought. All three founders had to lend the company their own money and for the first 3 years we paid ourselves very little. We had few cash reserves and constantly had to balance ambition with the available money as we fought to build a portfolio of contracts to generate regular sustainable income.
We certainly did not have everything all planned out in advance. We essentially used an “open door” strategy – we looked around for “doors” that might be slightly ajar and tried to push them open. One of these slightly “open doors” was the establishment of a White Force for something called the MTDS CCD (an experimental simulation facility that was to be established in a disused MT hanger at RAF Waddington). To this day, I can clearly remember sitting with Mark Boyes in an office at RAF Air Command trying to convince a senior RAF Air Commodore that Inzpire could provide the required White Force of 2 or 3 people just as well as regular uniformed RAF personnel. Fortunately, he agreed with us and that project has now evolved to become our large and highly respected operation at the ABTC.
Slowly, we started to win other work. We secured a contract to train RAF pilots in Human Factors skills, which we are still doing to this day (to great acclaim). We ended up deploying a team to support Tornado, and later Typhoon, operations through 17 and 41 Sqns. Today that team has expanded enormously. We developed, from scratch, a product called DIGIMAP that was purchased under an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) to support Tornado and Apache operations in Afghanistan. That has now evolved into other products like our GECO Electronic Flight Bag (in use with JHC) and our Mission Support System (purchased for use by Puma). A bit later in our evolution we started to train the Army to fly the Apache. And so it went on…..
All that work needed more people, so we started to accumulate the amazing team that we have today, a team that is full of talented, brilliant, and highly motivated individuals. Along the way one of our founders, Ian Ansell, decided to leave. The legend that is Mike “Simpo” Simpson joined us and, years later, left for life near the beach in Devon. A few others left too, all having played their part in the success that we see today, but our staff turnover remains exceptionally low by any standards.
As we stand today, we are a business of almost 100 full time people. We are growing rapidly, we are debt free, we are profitable, we are exporting, we have good cash reserves and we are generating an ever increasing reputation. Our presence in the market place is out of all proportion to our physical size. At the last DSEI, we were number 3 in overall media presence (No 1 was BAES). We have found that we are regularly engaging in commercial competition with the big Defence Prime Contractors and often coming off ahead; David and Goliath it seems.
We have grown up as a business and set in place the foundations for our next giant leap forward: more people in the operational groups, professional support in Finance, Commercial, HR, Quality, IT and a dedicated Sales and Marketing team. An inward investment two years ago has given us access to some very bright minds who have really challenged us to achieve our full potential. These people have been instrumental in increasing the scale of our ambition and in facilitating access to capital markets as a source of funding for future growth.
Looking ahead, we are filled with hope and optimism. Our vision is to be the most respected and admired defence company in the world and we believe we can achieve it. There are few things as powerful as an idea whose time has come, and we are precisely that: a powerful new idea whose time has definitely come. We are a new fresh defence company that is intent on creating a “revolution in the military industrial relationship”. This is a relation that, in many places, has become poisoned by cynicism, mistrust and suspicion. We are trying to inject old fashioned concepts like honour, reliability and integrity back into a somewhat tired and toxic relationship. Already, our main customer notices that we are somehow different.
We have all the right people to achieve our ambition and we are intent on creating a business that we all want to be in. We are on an amazing journey, making outstanding products and delivering outstanding services to very demanding clients. We are an international success story and, 10 years in, we have built a business of which we can be immensely proud.
But we are not going to just sit here in our comfort zone. That would be too easy. We are going to go much further; beyond the blue horizon to even better places where we can achieve our full potential. We are going to rollout our revolution in the defence industrial relationship and move relentlessly towards our vision of being the most respected and admired defence company in the world. We have the talent, resources and determination to do this. And we are getting on with it. After all what is the point of being in business if you don’t try and achieve something remarkable? We may not yet have made it all the way to Amarillo but far away across the shimmering desert we can see it waiting for us….
Inzpire Limited is one of 27 companies worldwide recognised by Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems as an Elite Supplier.
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