Aviation startup CEO: Incubation puts us two steps ahead of the competition

Technology, Industry trends | Jul 26, 2021 | By Satair | 4 min read

Established aviation companies have often found success collaborating with innovative startups and helping the new firms get their fresh ideas off the ground. It’s something the industry is likely to see more and more of over the coming years.

In one of just many examples that can be found throughout the industry, Beam, a spin-off of BEUMER Group, has recently partnered with Airsiders, a Berlin-based technology company that was founded just over 16 months ago to create aviation’s first truly end-to-end virtual interlining and self-connecting solution.

We spoke with Airsiders CEO and co-founder Yavuz Karadag about how Beam’s incubation programme helped his company take flight.

Photo of Yavuz Karadag

Satair Knowledge Hub: Can you tell us a little more about Airsiders and the problem it is trying to solve in the aviation industry?

Yavuz Karadag: Airsiders is a travel technology company focused on improving the end-to-end passenger experience while creating new revenue opportunities for airports and airlines through two key products: virtual interlining and digital wayfinding.

Airsiders offers a full-service virtual interlining solution, aimed at growing the transfer volume at airports, increasing aero and retail revenue as well as overall market share. Part of the solution is a patent-pending automated baggage check-through technology that enables the processing of self-transfer baggage between non-interline flights. This technology enables airlines to offer seamless connections between one another without a traditional interline agreement.

We also have Airsiders Compass, a digital wayfinding solution based on an industry-leading flight routing and wayfinding algorithm. The objective is to drive the passenger experience and grow airport revenues through personalisation and improved services. By integrating airport data to visualize and predict passenger journeys at airports based on flight information and personal itineraries, Compass offers improved time management for passengers. As a result, passengers are encouraged to explore retail and service options provided by the airport through targeted advertisements and smart retail recommendations.

Why incubation programmes are so beneficial to the aviation industry

SKH: Airsiders is part of BEUMER Group’s builder company, Beam. Can you tell us about Airsiders’ relationship with Beam and why the two companies chose to work together?

YK: My co-founder Ashraf Al-Eryani and I joined Beam as “Entrepreneurs in Residence” to validate both the market problem and Airsiders’ proposed solution. After an extensive validation phase, the board decided to invest in Airsiders due to its strategic relevance to BEUMER. The relationship has grown to be extremely strong. BEUMER supports Airsiders in knowledge transfer, historical learnings, introductions to industry stakeholders as well as potential customers and partners.

SKH: Corporate incubation programmes usually come with some critical components and services. Could you expand on Beam’s incubation programme, what does Beam provide Airsiders and what are your obligations in return?

YK: Like any other investment, as part of the agreement Beam owns equity within Airsiders against the capital it has injected. But unlike other investment agreements, Beam continues to offer an immense force of intangible support through learnings from BEUMER, warm introductions to potential customers, industry insights, etc. We call it “the unfair advantage”. This fuels Airsiders not only with the capital we need to enter the market but also with different tools that enable us to be two or three steps ahead against any competitors or other market players.

Photo of Airsiders app on phone

SKH: How much freedom and independence does Airsiders have in the programme?

YK: Airsiders is an independent subsidiary of BEUMER Group, founded through Beam. Airsiders has full independence and freedom to conduct its business with minimum to no interference from Beam. The founders may choose to consult Beam in some matters but we are not obliged to. For business-critical decisions, the Airsiders board are called in for a vote.

SKH: Incubators have been growing in popularity in recent years due to the many benefits that they provide to startups and businesses with a growth mindset. Can you tell us about the core benefits Beam's incubation programme provides Airsiders?

YK: >We have received plenty of support from Beam. Not only was the financial investment essential to hit the ground running, but the legal support, opening of doors through warm intros to relevant industry stakeholders, and the continuous sparring partnership is extremely valuable for Airsiders. We are sure this relationship will continue to reap fruitful results as Airsders grows.

SKH: What are the benefits of the incubation programme for BEUMER/Beam?

YK: The major benefits are the access to know-how from a company specialized in our industry and the warm introductions we receive to potential clients and partners. Having a well-known corporate as a backer is also a significant key enabler, especially in the airport and airline industries.

SKH: Incubation programmes can, of course, sometimes fail. What are the key elements of a successful incubation programme, in your view?

YK: In my opinion, the key to a successful incubation lies within the whole motivation, idea, industry experience and relevance on the incubator’s side, and their ability to execute on these things. It starts with scouting the right founders who have the skills and knowledge to build what they want to build and pushes through providing necessary support, whether that’s financial or in the form of knowledge or simply just advice. A good incubator will also consult on company structure, investment mechanisms and growth initiatives. When you add the force and agenda of an engaged incubator to rockstar founding teams, you get a successful programme with a successful portfolio of incubated companies.