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Ride along as sales leaders make cold calls from the cockpit, or share their pitch while AJ pitches the plane up. It’s time to venture outside comfort zones.
Watch the debut season of Value Props
‘Digital Nomad Life’, Episode 5
From having the fear of public speaking to TedX speaker, Orai’s Founder Danish Dhamani joins AJ for Episode 5 of Value Props. Listen along as the two long-time friends catch up on Danish’s Digital Nomad lifestyle, latest side hustles, and experiences as a startup founder.
Aside from his family, there is nothing AJ Bruno loves more than flying and entrepreneurship.
So, when the opportunity presented itself to pair his two passions through “Value Props,” AJ was all in. Or, all up?
The new original series sends AJ and a guest from the entrepreneurial atmosphere up in his plane. AJ pilots his Beechcraft Baron 58 while interviewing his passengers on the hardships and wins of their journeys as investors, founders and leaders in tech.
Together, the two candidly discuss their own experiences in the biz, including what investors actually look for, what it’s like to raise funding as a founder, why you should sell benefits (not features), and when to recognize that it’s time to throw in the towel or pivot. All while buzzing around above.
Viewers can expect some surprising takeaways. For instance, did you know that founders have to set aside about $100,000 to shut down a company? Or, that as a pilot, you don’t actually have to have your hands on the yoke the whole time?
Come for the knowledge sharing. Stay for the laughs, and, most importantly, enjoy the flight!
But first, some backstory.
Why Value Props
AJ began flying when he was 16 years old. His dad, a former pilot, and his mom, a former flight attendant, piqued his aviation interest at a young age. Fun fact, his parents actually met while both working for U.S. Airways, a real-life romcom!
Although AJ took a hiatus from flying at age 20 to finish school and begin working, the founder re-committed at age 27. It was then that he promised to himself that he would launch his own business and pick up flying again.
AJ has since earned his commercial pilot license, and launched and successfully exited his first company TrendKite. Then in 2018, he co-founded his second venture QuotaPath, alongside TrendKite pal Cole Evetts and Philadelphia tech wizard Eric Heydenberk.
His idea for “Value Props” came upon learning about a unique customer engagement effort in early 2020. At an event, AJ heard author and marketing expert David Meerman Scott highlight a classic car insurance company that created an online video series about classic car engine restoration. The company, Hagerty, did this specifically to deepen its connection with its community.
That’s when AJ began brainstorming how to launch something that intersects his interests for startups and flying.
Prepare for takeoff
After a few months building out the idea, AJ outrigged his plane with several GoPro cameras and welcomed his first guest, Steve Barsh, Managing Partner at Dreamit Ventures aboard his twin engine, piston aircraft.
We will continue to schedule flights throughout the year and hope to release a new episode every month. Don’t forget to sign up for updates so you never miss an episode!
In the meantime, let’s get to know AJ and his flying experience.
A Q&A with the pilot
How many pilot hours have you logged?
1,150 total. I try to fly at least once every two weeks to keep my piloting skills sharp and to make sure my airplane is doing what it’s supposed to do.
What would non-pilots find surprising about operating an airplane?
It’s so much more than “flying” the airplane. At all times, you have to monitor navigation, systems, radios, weather, airspace, air traffic, checklists, and flows. It requires laser focus. At the end of the day, flying is the easy part!
What gives you the biggest rush?
Landing! I love making the perfect landing every time, or as we like to call it, “greasing the touch down.” Navigating bad weather in tight airspaces can also be a rush if done correctly. I love doing it with passengers who are curious as to how it all works, because I tend to really lean into it and it helps me stay on top of my game.
What have been some of your favorite flying experiences?
Two come to mind. By far the best and most memorable experience was during the height of the pandemic in 2020. A friend of mine reached out and asked if I could fly to Memphis to help out a friend of theirs, a family whose very young daughter had just finished six months of chemo and three life-saving surgeries at St. Judes Children Hospital. Prior to the surgeries, the daughter had a very low chance of survival. She was immunocompromised and couldn’t risk a commercial flight. I woke up early, flew 3.5 hours, picked them up, and then flew them to their home in New York. Today, their daughter is doing amazing. It’s something I will never forget, and that family and I remain friends to this day.
My other favorite memory is flying with my dad (who is a Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award recipient) in my own plane for the first time. We flew into Bozeman, MT, and safely beat a microburst by about 10 minutes.
What about your least favorite?
I’ll begin with saying everyone was safe! But one time I left the door open with my 4-year-old (she’s now 8), sitting next to me. The door popped open at 1,000 feet. My wife screamed at me and said she’d never fly with me again. Don’t worry, she did, and I always make sure the door is closed.
Where would you like to fly that you haven’t yet?
What airplane model would you like to fly next?
Pilatus PC 12. It’s the plane I’ve wanted to own since I was 12 years old.
Lastly, what can Value Props guests expect out of this experience?
A once in a lifetime experience that they will never ever forget!