Turkish Airlines lets start-ups pitch to Business Class passengers in-flight

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By Raymond Kollau, airlinetrends.com

Istanbul’s startup sector, known as the ‘Digital Bosphorus’, is thriving. As Wired reports this month: “Along with this shifting attitude to failure, Istanbul’s successes have encouraged younger generations to seek entrepreneurial success, resulting in strong software and gaming sectors emerging in a city best known for e-commerce. Venture capital is also emerging.”

‘Invest On Board’
So when Turkish Airlines wanted to promote its country’s technology and Internet start-ups, it decided to do something different. The airline’s new ‘Invest On Board’ program streams pitch videos from startups to the in-seat screens of passengers in Business Class, providing participating startups with a captive audience for their pitches [video here].

Or as THY puts it: “Invest on Board is a one of a kind opportunity for investors flying Turkish Airlines Business Class to invest in hand-picked startups. Finding the next big business has never been so effortless.”

The project is run by Etohum, a Turkish startup accelerator and the short videos, which run under two minutes, advertise mostly Turkey-based startups but also some foreign companies.

Participating startups in the first batch of IFE pitch videos include home accessories e-commerce site Dekoreko, commerce platform Ganipara, and dating service Pembe Panjur. Startup companies can apply via the ‘Invest On Board’ website for a chance to be featured on Turkish Airlines’ IFE system.

Virgin Atlantic ‘Pitch TV’
Turkish Airlines’ ‘Invest on Board’ initiatives resembles Virgin Atlantic’s ‘Pitch TV’, which ran between March 2009 and March 2010 [video here].

As part of Virgin’s Pitch TV scheme, entrepreneurs in search of investment and exposure for their business ideas could record a two-minute video pitch and upload it to the Pitch TV website, where it could be viewed and rated by other visitors on a monthly basis.

The winning videos were then featured on the airline’s PitchTV show onboard flights each month, gaining exposure to the thousands of business professionals who regularly fly Virgin Atlantic. Anyone interested in hearing more about a particular business idea could then get in contact with the airline to get in contact with the entrepreneur and help take the startup’s idea further. Each PitchTV show also featured interviews with guest entrepreneurs answering questions posed by Richard Branson’s Twitter and blog followers.

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