With geek chic well established, a significant proportion of top graduates now choose to work for or launch technology startups rather than navigate traditional career paths.
Recognising this, many corporations have established own venture capital (VC) funds to back interesting new businesses and talent – a trend that has spread to aviation.
JetBlue Technology Ventures, for instance, aims to invest in “early-stage startups at the intersection of technology, travel and hospitality”.
This column has already questioned the wisdom of JetBlue launching a VC arm, but – undeterred by MRO Network’s warnings – Qantas is now making a similar move.
“We’re proud of our track record as innovators and early adopters and we think there’s much more to come, so we’re asking Australian and international start-ups to join us as we unearth the next big ideas,” says Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on the launch of AVRO Accelerator.
To be fair to the Australian flag carrier, though, its foray into the startup ecosystem is more limited and sensible than JetBlue’s.
For a start, Qantas’ accelerator program – which offers selected participants working space, mentorship and a small amount of seed funding – is run in partnership with Slingshot, an industry specialist, whereas JetBlue headed its VC team with an ex-pilot.
Second, an accelerator is nimble: it will select up 10 startups for a 12-week scheme. JetBlue Technology Ventures, in contrast, has invested in just two companies during its first year of operations.
Even so, startup success rates suggest that most of AVRO Accelerator’s participants won’t be around in two years’ time, but with none of Qantas’ money on the table, that’s not a significant concern.
Unfortunately, Qantas, like JetBlue, seems to be focusing on customer experience rather than the nuts and bolts of its operation.
Consumer-facing apps are popular, of course, but bespoke enterprise software, while less sexy, has more potential to transform a company’s bottom line in areas such as logistics and maintenance management.