Eric Farewell is a lifelong entrepreneur who started working at the age of seven and had his first business selling airplanes on the Internet at the age of 13. Eric has a background in aviation, travel, and adventure. In 2011, he launched Aviator Paramotor, which offers life-changing powered paragliding experiences. As the Founder and CEO of Aviator Paramotor, Eric spends his time teaching paramotoring, catering to students’ unique needs, and traveling around the world to exhibitions and events.
In addition to his paramotoring business, Eric acquired the National STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) competition, which showcases the excitement of aviation worldwide. He’s also the author of the book Farewell to Normal: A Transformational Guide to Adventure, Excitement, and Personal Happiness.
In this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, John Corcoran interviews Eric Farewell, Founder and CEO of Aviator Paramotor, about his lifelong entrepreneurial journey. Eric discusses starting his first business at age 13, his experience in paramotoring, and his involvement with the National Short Takeoff and Landing (National STOL).
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- How Eric Farewell started his journey as an entrepreneur
- The challenges and lessons Eric learned from his first business
- What is paramotoring, and why did Eric fall in love with it?
- The growth of Eric’s YouTube channel and the impact it has on his business
- Eric describes his involvement with the National STOL and its plans for the future
- How Eric got involved in the Front Row Dads community
Resources Mentioned In This Episode
- Eric Farewell
- Aviator Paramotor
- AviatorShow on YouTube
- Farewell to Normal: A Transformational Guide to Adventure, Excitement, and Personal Happiness by Eric Farewell
- National STOL
- Front Row Dads
- MetroMax Group
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Welcome to the revolution, the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, where we ask today’s most successful entrepreneurs to share the tools and strategies they use to build relationships and connections to grow their revenue. Now, now, your host for the revolution, John Corcoran.
John Corcoran 0:40
All right, welcome, everyone. John Corcoran. Here I am the host of this show. And I am so privileged because I get to talk to smart and interesting founders and entrepreneurs and executives each week. And it’s such a pleasure and such a joy in my life to get to meet interesting people. And my new friend here, Eric Farewell one of those I’m going to introduce him in a second. But first before we get to that, of course, this episode brought to you by Rise25, where we help b2b businesses to get clients referrals and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcast and content marketing. You’ll learn all about what we do at Rise25.com. And first also a shout out to DeMarco Thomas Metromax. It’s a logistics company. He’s another friend who introduced me to today’s guests. And Eric Farewell. He’s a lifelong entrepreneur started working around age seven had his first business around age 13. Get this selling airplanes on the internet, I know, back then a little bit of a crazy idea. So we’re going to ask him all about it. Kind of the common thread in his background in history is aviation, travel adventure family. And so we’re going to talk all about that in 2011, he actually launched a paramotor business, which is if you’ve seen them before, they look like they have a parachute above them. They have a motor on their back. It’s absolutely nuts. And he’s got an amazing YouTube channel where you can see these beautiful videos. And we’re gonna talk about how he ended up starting that he’s also acquired the national stole. It starts for stands for short takeoff and landing to really cool adventure sport. And he’s the author of Farewell to Normal. That’s his book. And, Eric, it’s such a pleasure to have you here today. You’re involved in so many different things. So there’s so many things I want to ask you about. But first, let’s start with this business that you started 13 years old, you loved aviation, and decided you’re going to buy a kit and build an airplane. And then you decided, maybe that’s not that such a good idea. So I’m just going to sell it on the internet early, which was this early days, the internet. And that seems absolutely nuts to me What 13 year old decides to do either of those things.
Eric Farewell 2:45
So I was born to very entrepreneurial families. First off, thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to have these great conversations. But it’s born out of a real family. My grandparents ran a five star bed and breakfast here in Central Florida. I started working there when I was seven. It was my job to take the giant coffee urns and pour them in the hot water you know, very healthy thing for seven year old to be doing over his head. And the reason for me going to work was my obsession with flight. I wanted to buy an airplane my grandfather flew in World War Two, my uncle was a captain for United. My mom sold her 16th birthday flying was everything. And when I was seven, I discovered these things called ultralights that you didn’t have to wait till you’re 16 to fly. And since 16 felt like it was a lifetime away. I went to work for minimum wage. I was a busboy. I was the bellboy, we had a hotel there as well. So, you know, all of these different tasks that fell to the child labor laws. Were as possible
John Corcoran 3:36
in Florida, right? Florida doesn’t have those types of roles, right?
Eric Farewell 3:39
No, we’re good. We’re good. We’re basically you know, Apple building iPhones at this point, but it’s, I’m a diehard Apple guy, so I can say these terrible things. That said, I did finally buy my airplane kit, and it was a mini max, if anyone is googling they actually just closed their doors to upset about But Wayne ISON built these all with airplanes, and he sold kits, single seat ultralight and non ultralight. And the first step was to put five pieces of wood together, glue them, and then you sand them down and they come smooze ADHD 13 year old Eric took two and a half weeks to do that gave up and put it up for sale on this new thing called the internet in 1999. You say, How did you sell it? No, there was a couple apps I built my own website. Microsoft front page was my friend. I went through an HTML checker to see if there were any issues and there were 580 Something issues on a one page website, so you know, high quality website, but it was 99. And it was turquoise. It was the in thing at the time.
John Corcoran 4:39
Lots of flash, lots of little blinking buttons in there.
Eric Farewell 4:43
And he had to play music that was different on every page, you know,
John Corcoran 4:46
to email to get a picture of the kit.
Eric Farewell 4:49
Exactly, exactly. So it ended up selling and then the guy I bought it from was this crusty old guy, Jim McKinney. And Jim said, Hey, I’ve got a hangar full of projects you want help me Sell them I gave you 10% I said make it 20. And he did nice night. And that was the beginning of a brokerage that was completely illegal. I didn’t realize you’d have a license to be an aircraft broker till after I stopped doing it. But I was selling airplanes for people from all over the country. And, you know, definitely some some wins and losses there. I learned a lot in that process. I hired my first employee when I was 15. I couldn’t drive but I could fly back and forth to the hangar I rented. And it was a great opportunity to kind of learn the ropes of entrepreneurial lifestyle for myself to start someone else.
John Corcoran 5:33
So when did you finally start flying these ultra lights? Like,
Eric Farewell 5:38
I was 16 Ironically, my parents were not about that. Like, they were like, you have to wait till you’re 16 Which is really ironic, given all the other things they let me do. But at 16 I was flying my pants off.
John Corcoran 5:50
So they probably figured when you were 13, you bought this kit. They’re like, let them buy the kit. It’s gonna take them three years to build the damn thing.
Eric Farewell 5:56
Yeah, that’s a question I’ve never had with them. I probably should. Because if you look at the decision making process they made now as a parent myself, you know, at 13 I was taken to an internet marketing conference with my dad in San Francisco, right by SFO. Met a few guys there that were speakers and I just follow them around like a puppy dog, basically. Can I get some coffee, Mr. Mendoza? And can I get you some Copic Carrie
John Corcoran 6:17
and Mr. Live and he used to live about a mile from me over here. Yeah. Well, I used
Eric Farewell 6:21
to live in his house when I was 16. And quarter Madera. Yeah. I lived I lived in his garage, and I would learn from him. And we’d scheduled meetings, he taught me how to write copy. And like that’s that was so that my parents were fine with a 16 year old flying across the country to do that, but flying live at
John Corcoran 6:35
a guy’s garage. That’s strange. Yeah.
Eric Farewell 6:39
Yeah. So it was definitely definitely different experiences. But you know, that the desire to constantly be levelling up not financially, but experientially has been huge in my life. And I’m deeply passionate about creating that experience and my kids now and you know, that first business was just the start of so many more. And I’ve realized now that they say serial entrepreneurial, is like a thing to say you are, but the reality is, I don’t think I’m a serial entrepreneur, I’m just obsessed with taking any hobby, any interest, anything that kind of intrigues me learning everything about it, and then turning it into a business because I immediately see a hole where it could be better.
John Corcoran 7:16
Mm hmm. And you end up selling 200 airplanes and a five year period. So this is your teenage years, you’re selling airplanes for other people, and then did you lose interest in it? What happened there?
Eric Farewell 7:26
So right before my 18th birthday, December 20, I was born January 7, I was in an accident, I was hand propping an airplane and it took off with me hanging on to the stret. What happened was the two carburetors and there’s a splitter cable that goes down and it broke. So one carburetor is at full power one’s just cracked over idle. So it takes off to 130 40 miles an hour with me hanging on to the strut 26 inch tire between my legs and the propeller at my feet because the engine was on the back.
John Corcoran 7:52
So you couldn’t you couldn’t let go, you’re stuck.
Eric Farewell 7:55
Okay, if I let go, I’m going in that property. I’m dead, right? So I just hold on until I hit a concrete block wall. And about 35 minutes later, I woke up airplanes still running on top of me. And I had smashed my head pretty good. And had a pretty traumatic back injury I broke C one T five, six t 11 And l five. And I don’t know if anyone’s has ever told you that hurts. So my, my dreams of flying in the air force to go to the academy all that were put on hold and I actually quit flying for a few years. It’s the first time I’ve ever broken a bone. So I decided to do safer things for a few years. I got into motorcycle racing, I got into surfing, I proceeded to break I think it was 31 Yeah, 31 more bones like Baskin Robbins over the next four or five years, including your back a second time. That wasn’t until about six, seven years later. But that was a again, kind of this test flying lifestyle where I would fly things that other people thought, hey, well that work and I try it and fly it until it didn’t and this one didn’t hit the roof of a house. So don’t don’t learn from me what what to do to learn what not to do in those situations.
John Corcoran 9:02
She’s She’s. And so I want to take a couple of steps backwards. Because what was it like for you? I remember when we spoke the first time you said your grandfather bought like all this acreage in Central Florida. And then eventually at some point, they built a runway. So you’re around aviation at this young age. What was that like growing up? Not near a big city and kind of a rural area? You have this runway. I mean, is that what you guys are just doing all the times? It’s like, Hey, let’s go around. Let’s go fly the plane.
Eric Farewell 9:33
So it’s a really it’s a really interesting childhood. So not only do we have the runway and the restaurant that I was literally born on that property in my parents bedroom, right, but in addition to that my parents had their own business. So when I was three, my dad quit selling cell phones. This is 1989 So you can imagine the size of the cell phones and decided to start selling books with my mom. They started homeschooling for religious reasons and they wanted to, you know, go out and help other people. We’ll find their way to homeschool and it sounds great except the truant officer would show up and they take your butt to school, so it’s totally illegal at the time. And they started off with a tomato box all the books they steal the tomato box from the restaurant. And over the next few years, it changed into a full time business with over 20 employees in our family would travel from book show to book show homeschool books at a homeschool book show from March until September, October every year. And so we had five kids that started in a trans van eventually a pace arrow and finally we got we actually bought Charlie Daniels band bands old bus. So like the bus that’s on the Million Mile TOUR ALBUM. That’s what I grew up in with four siblings. And so we had that lifestyle on the road and we come back for the winters and you know is endless. We’d be pulling down the drive and near back and then a router above your head. And he would be doing barrel rolls. He’s actually in the Guinness Book of World Records being the first guy to do a barrel roll in a loop and a gyrocopter which he thought the ultra lights were terrifying and dangerous and he would never fly one but he crashed that freakin Gyrocopter. 12 times. So, definitely a different way of life for sure.
John Corcoran 11:05
Oh, man, okay, that’s just absolutely nuts. And I come from my grandfather also was a world to pilot flew B seven teams that were were to did 35 missions over Nazi Germany, if you can imagine not many of those guys came back. And my father an absolute aviation not was in the Air Force had bad eyes. So never became a pilot himself. But you think he was from the way he talks about aviation knows, we went to a world war two era plane museum recently, and it was unbelievable how much he knew about all these different planes. So definitely grew up around a lot of this type of stuff as well. Now, let’s jump ahead, flash forward to 2011. You had you’d been a photographer for a bunch of years at that point, traveling the world, but you ended up deciding discovering paramotoring. So I probably butchered a description of what that is. But So describe to us what paramotoring is, and what you know how you decided to launch a business around it training people,