Get to know Propeller’s world-class team in our new, ongoing employee spotlight series. Today, we talk to Richard Hordern-Gibbings, who serves as channel sales lead on the business development team in our Denver, Colorado, office.
What do you do at Propeller?
I do channel sales for the East Coast. Everything as far west as Ohio and all the way down to Louisiana. Basically, what I’m doing is helping the SITECHs and our other partners identify and sell our products to their customers.
We work with partners in the SITECH network because, at the end of the day, our partners know the industry best. They’ve been selling to the industries we work with for decades. Partnering with them allows us to get a better market introduction and help the partners identify where there’s a clear need for a drone program on their customers’ sites.
I also work within the business development team on strategy, new products, markets, etc.
What’s your career background?
Mine is a bit of a dog’s breakfast. I studied commerce at uni. I did five-eighths of a law degree. Then, I moved to Sydney, Australia, to work for a small cap mining company, which had copper and nickel exploration projects in Tasmania, Western Australia, Argentina, and Albania.
From there, I took some time off and did some traveling. When I got back, I wanted to work with my hands for a bit, so I went to sea school—learned how to do knots and boats and engines. I worked on Sydney Harbor for a summer, which is still probably the best job I’ve ever had—no offense Propeller. After the summer, I needed to get a real job again—as my parents would have called it—and, unfortunately, found myself in the banking sector, where I wallowed in loathing and self-pity for 18 months.
While this was all going on, I had my own startup on the side called Nexus Notes, with a few uni mates. A couple of us decided to take it full time, so we entered the StartMate program—which is like Australia’s Y Combinator—and did three months in Sydney, three months in San Francisco. We didn’t raise any money in the US, but another company did. They were called Propeller, and they were hiring. I knew what the founders, Frank and Rory, were doing; I liked the way they operated as a team. They knew what I was capable of, so I asked them to give me a try for a couple weeks. That was three and a half years ago.
Before working at Propeller, what’s the strangest or most interesting job you’ve held?
For that job on Sydney Harbor, I was part of the marine crew for The Island, which was a party barge. We had big music events and parties out on the water. I ran the water taxi, cleaned toilets, or served as a lifeguard—basically everything. That was a really fun job.
I also did promotions work at uni for a while. That ranged from the mundane of handing out flyers and cans of Coke to walking around a big shopping center in a big sumo suit for Sumo Salad. Another great one was for Mother energy drink: I had to dress up like a wolf with red contact lenses and stand in a cage at the Port Adelaide football game, and go “rawr!” at people, which was just completely humiliating. A feral kid spat on me at one game.
Where are you from? Where have you lived?
I’m from Adelaide, South Australia. Also known as God’s country. Home of the world’s best wine, world’s best football team, and the world’s best people.
What’s your favorite Propeller memory?
We’ve been fortunate to have lots of good memories. There’s lot of romanticism of the early days with just a handful of us in a room trying to get everything to work, but I think starting up the US office was pretty big. Also, our company retreats to Thredbo, Australia, and Thailand.
We also have a long-lived and fond Propeller tradition that we do every second Friday called Demo Day. It’s basically show-and-tell for an adult workforce. Everyone goes around the room sharing something they’ve been thinking about or working on. Seeing people come in and just blow everyone socks off with what they’ve achieved is incredible. We have some really great people doing some really great things – It’s painfully clear that I’m not the smartest person in the room, but that’s what makes it a great place to work.
Another favorite are my solo road trips to see our dealers in the States. These were one- to two-week trips—a great way to learn how to drive on the incorrect side of the road. For the first one, I left my girlfriend and her family in New York on New Year’s Eve to drive all the way over to Ohio, down to Memphis, then over to Raleigh, and back over to Louisiana, linked up with the girlfriend and drove up to Denver.
If you could be any piece of worksite equipment, what would you be and why?
I’d be a hard hat because I save lives and help people go home at night.
If you could attend any professional sports game, what would it be and why?
It’d be a rematch between the 2017 AFL Grand Final, Crows versus Richmond . . . and my team would actually win this time. That was a very grim day.
Do you have an office nickname? What is it?
Not really. It’s just “Richo.” I mean, there might be others behind my back. I tend to hand out a lot of nicknames which aren’t always popular, so I’m probably due for a couple.
If you could do any job at worksite for just one day, which would you choose?
I’ve been lucky on a few of my site visits to drive some of the big pieces of equipment around and it’s huge fun. So, if I could drive a big mine truck or an excavator for a day—that’d make me very happy.
Any fun facts or talents to share?
I can get through an airport faster than anyone else I know, which is an acquired skill. I can shear an alpaca. I can always beat Matt Gendron at ping pong.
Want to be part of the Propeller team? We are hiring!