easyJet seem to be taking an interesting, if not pioneering, approach to disruptive tech. While fintech has mostly absorbed the wave of startups that went after the financial industry from about 2011, travel startups initially went after the middlemen, creating a host of algorithm-based disintermediators, and put a lot of travel agents out of business.
But airlines? Well there was this kind of thing, which I reported on a year or so ago. But what about the airlines themselves? EasyJet are taking the approach of incubating companies that complement its business, adding layers and businesses on the edge of what it does — which is ferry people around in the air.
Today, for example, it announced that it had adopted a new raft of startups into its accelerator programme:
– WeTrip an online, group travel booking platform which sells holiday packages to small groups. Their algorithm is connected to distinctive activity suppliers comparing endless combinations of components to build real-time offers, according to the preferences of the group. Payment is also made simple as group members can pay separately.
– Car and Away a peer-to-peer car sharing community where car owners make money out of their parked vehicle whilst they are away on their travels.
– FlightSayer uses sophisticated simulation algorithms and machine learning to better predict flight delays hours, days, and weeks before departure. With a $1.75m grant from NASA, the company’s technology is being used in the US by corporations, airlines and travel management companies to improve travel experience and increase efficiencies with plans to adapt to the European airspace.
– TrustedHousesitters, a global community of pet sitters.
So none of these detract from easyJet’s business, but enhance it. None are disrupters, per se, although Car and Away does eat into car rentals. Instead easyJet uses these startups to add value to its own service:
– easyJet and TrustedHousesitters have partnered up to allow passengers to choose a free house sitter for their pet or find free accommodation as a house or pet sitter when booking flights at easyJet.com.
Previous graduates of the program have already partnered up — FLIO, an airport app, is working on integrating its content with the easyJet Travel App. LuckyTrip are also working on something similar.
Behind all this: Founders Factory, a sort of innovation factory backed by corporates from six sectors: easyJet (Travel), L’Oréal (Beauty), Aviva (Fintech), Holtzbrinck (Education), Guardian Media Group (Media) and CSC Group (Artificial Intelligence).