Interviews

British Airways to mentor UK business owners with US startup incubator

3 min read

24 August 2015

Former deputy editor

British Airways has marked the relaunch of its On Business loyalty scheme by buckling up into a partnership with a Texas-based startup incubator, which will provide UK business owners with the chance to secure mentoring.

The decision follows a survey among its business customers that revealed 97 per cent believe mentoring adds real value, while 82 per cent consider the guidance a way of boosting their company.

Austin-based Capital Factory is the startup incubator teaming up with the UK airline to deliver advice to three chosen British business owners during a ten-hour flight to Texas on 20 October. Its founders Josh Baer and Steve Welch will be on hand during the journey, offering their experience which has seen them help hundreds of firms to grow and develop.

“The British Airways’ Mentoring Flight will give a lucky group of specially selected SMEs the once in a lifetime opportunity to receive brilliant business support through two amazing mentors from one of the world’s best business incubators, the Capital Factory,” said Andrew Crawley, British Airways’ chief commercial officer.

During the study, British Airways also found that the number of male versus female mentors were in stark contrast at 53 per cent compared to 39 per cent. That said, women were more proactive when it came to seeking help as 20 per cent sought out mentors for career development compared to just eight per cent of men.

Elsewhere, 84 per cent of women desire mentoring to improve performance at work, which fell to 71 per cent among male counterparts. Interestingly, desired mentors included Barack Obama, Warren Buffet, Alex Ferguson, Joanna Lumley, Tim Cook and the Dalai Lama.

Baer, who is also executive director of Capital Factory, said: “I’m really looking forward to meeting the winners of British Airways’ competition on the flight. Mentoring at 35,000ft will be a new experience for me, but all that dedicated quiet time on the flight will definitely deliver results.

“There has never been a better time to connect the number one start-up city in the U.S. with the number one start-up city in Europe and since British Airways established a direct flight between Austin and London we are seeing more Austin companies doing business across the pond and vice-versa.”

He noted the importance of face-to-face meetings, but recognised that they can be costly for startups, so recommended loyalty schemes like On Business to get more value for money.

British Airways claims its service has saved businesses £34m when travelling to do business, while the new programme will provide travellers an immediate discount or at least five discounts on selected flights for future trips.

Business owners interested in the Capital Factory mentoring flight can register interest by submitting a pitch to detail how the session could transform their firm. Sky-high mentoring sessions aren’t unheard of – Richard Branson previously carried out a similar publicity stunt to signal the arrival of direct flights to Detroit from London.