Germany-based aviation group Lufthansa will be investing in digital start-ups in India, said the airlines' South Asia Director Wolfgang Will on the sidelines of the Startup Expo, the entrepreneurship event Lufthansa had organised in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) in Gurgaon.
"We are seeing intense competition within the category, from our competitors, and also perhaps even more competition from outside the category. Start-ups are agile, they are much more disruptive and they will enable us to experiment in ways in which are not working." said Will. "Our philosophy is really to focus on people and the communities we are working in. It made us think how can we really be a part of this dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem here in India."
Lufthansa's VP, Marketing Alexander Schlaubitz said, "With start-ups we are trying to figure out ways in which we can look at the whole area of ancillary revenues. It can be from special meals or from advanced seat reservations. There's going to be a whole host of things that we think we can surround the basic product with and a lot of this is going to be solved digitally."
He informed they have a similar platform in Berlin called Innovation Hub. Some of the innovations like a baggage tracing app to help travellers track their baggage at the airport and Secretary Kim, a concierge service, have come from the start-ups they are working with.
Lufthansa has been partnering with the India arm of TiE in a contest Runway to Success for start-ups for quite some time. The winner of the contest gets a free Lufthansa Business Class ticket to the US and a seat at Stanford University's Design Thinking Boot Camp.
This year, Lufthansa organised mentorship camps in tier 2 cities like Pune and Chandigarh that resulted in 30,000 entries from start-ups.
In addition, the German airlines also hosted the one-day event for start-ups. The Startup Expo was attended by more than 5,000 entrepreneurs, 50 investors, 100 partners, and 500 mentors looking to explore partnerships with a pool of entrepreneurial talent across various sectors.