• Omer Winrauke

Our Experience at Hangar51 & FTE

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

Last week our team had the exciting opportunity to travel to two large travel startup events, Hangar51’s Pitch Day and the Future Travel Experience Global Startup Hub Live. At both of these events we were able to share Pilota, learn about other new startups in the travel industry and meet leaders at major companies in the industry. We want to share our experiences at these events along with some of the interesting startups that we met!


Hangar51 is an accelerator created by the International Airline Group (IAG). IAG is the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, LEVEL, Vueling, IAG Cargo and Avios. They created the accelerator to provide startups with the opportunity to grow and develop their business with access to IAG’s resources and expertise.

The Event: Pitch Day

Amongst almost 500 startup applications from the global travel industry, Pilota was chosen as one of 38 to present at Pitch Day in Madrid, Spain. Over 200 attendees filled the seats of the auditorium. These attendees included senior leaders of IAG Airlines and members of their innovation teams.

The event was broken down into three sessions. In Session 1, startups tackling Airport Operations & Logistics and Cargo Logistics presented their solutions. In Session 2, startups solving Disruption Management and Customer Interactions presented their solutions. As a disruption management startup, this was the session where we presented Pilota. In Session 3, startups with new products and services along with startups tackling sustainability presented their solutions.

We were amazed by the pitches we saw and felt honored to be sharing the stage with such impressive startups and leaders. At the end of the article we have shared a bit about some of the startups we saw, be sure to check them out!

After the pitches, there was some time for us to meet the other startups and attendees of the event. It was a wonderful experience to be able to meet other startups in the industry and share our experiences, challenges and successes with one another. We also had the rare opportunity to speak to many of the senior leaders and innovation teams of the IAG Airlines to share more about Pilota and receive their feedback on our product. Being asked questions about the technology behind Pilota by leaders like the CTO of Iberia Airlines is an experience we will truly never forget.

Overall, our team had a wonderful experience at Hangar51 Pitch Day and have only wonderful things to say about the Hangar51 team. They were extremely helpful and supportive throughout the process. We would highly recommend applying to Hangar51 to any travel startups in the future.

Pilota @ FTE Startup Hub Live

Future Travel Experience:

The Future Travel Experience (FTE) is an independent online media, events and industry change leader dedicated to enhancing the end-to-end passenger experience and business performance. They have created the Future Travel Experience Startup Hub which brings together the most forward-thinking corporates, startups and scaleups in the air transport industry and provides a unique platform for them to share expertise, collaborate and deliver tangible, positive change. They host events to connect the members of the hub to allow for co-creation and networking.

The Event: FTE Global Startup Hub Live

As one of the startups in the Hub, we were invited to attend the Startup Hub Live event. This event took place on the third day of the FTE Global Conference in Las Vegas.At the event, each startup in the Hub was given the opportunity to share their company on the stage to the corporate airline and airport partners in the audience. After each set of pitches, there was an opportunity for startups to meet with representatives from companies like JetBlue, Southwest, United Airlines, Hamad International Airport, Tampa Bay Airport and many others.

Once again it was great to meet other startups in the travel industry and share our experiences with one another. We also appreciated the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations with the airline and airport representatives in the room about Pilota. We would definitely recommend this event to any travel startups looking to connect with airport and airline partners in the industry.

The Startups We wanted to highlight some the impressive startups that we met last week and share more information about Pilota with you: Pilota: At Pilota, we use machine learning to predict delays and cancellations ahead of time. This enables airports, airlines, travel managers and travel agents to make proactive decisions and mitigate these disruptions ahead of time with our early insights. We also use this information to automatically rebook affected passengers. For airlines, we optimize the rebooking of the passengers that are going to be affected by the upcoming disruption ahead of time. For travel managers and travel agencies, we provide a disruption protection plan and rebook their affected travelers on a new flight to their destination for free during severe delays and cancellations to their original flight. This allows their travelers to bypass the frustration, time and money lost due to disruptions. The Concept: This startup has re-designed and re-engineered in-flight economy food tray by using lightweight and sustainable material. We loved this startup because this new material makes these trays up to 80% lighter. This weight reduction helps save airlines millions in fuel costs by making each flight weight load lighter and also enables them to reduce their carbon emissions. Each tray also comes with integrated RFID technology that helps airlines understand the meal inventory on board the aircraft and increase cabin crew efficiency. Sherpa: This startup enables airlines to offer eVisas as an ancillary service. By integrating with the booking process, Sherpa informs passengers of the visa requirements for their trip based on their nationality and destination, and provides them with the option to seamlessly purchase any electronic documentation for an additional service fee. We loved this startup because it seamlessly prevents the situation where a passenger shows up to their airport for their international trip without the necessary visas they need to complete the trip! PolyAI: This startup offers conversational agents which redefine the human to machine experience. We loved this startup because unlike other AI assistants, they are able to handle complex use cases, hold long conversations and remember all pieces of information that the user has already shared. These AI assistants can allow for reduced handling time and faster response rates to the end customer.


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