“Two teamprenuers travelled to Silicon Valley in the late spring with the intention of building an extensive network out in California. Eleanor Hudson and Jonny Forsey attended several startup and travel conferences and met with venture capitalist Juliet De Baubigny, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers as well as many other successful business owners.”
When we found out that we were going to Silicon Valley, we both were very excited about the prospect of going to the number 1 tech hub in the world. Our current project WaitattheGate.com, which we have been working on since December 2015 involves providing people with the opportunity to fly last minute, at rock bottom prices. We aim to get airlines unsold inventory and sell it off cheaply. This trip seemed like the perfect opportunity to help us develop the idea.
The trip to California was spread out over 15 days. In the first 9 days in Silicon Valley we were up at 5:00am every morning preparing for meetings and then attending conferences later in the day. We went to a startup business conference, where we heard various entrepreneurs speak about their experiences. David Blumberg, director of Blumberg Capital, Slava Rubin, co-founder of Indiegogo, and Leah Busque, co-founder of Taskrabbit are just a few people who we got to listen to.
Our mentors Natalia Blagburn and Michael Fowle came out for 7 days, to help us seek out opportunities for our business and to expand the EBM connections out in California.
Over the 9 days we had meetings with various entrepreneurs. We met with Aman Naimat, founder of Spiderbook a B2B sales lead company. At Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers we had a meeting with Juliet De Baubigny, where we discussed our idea and were given input from a venture capitalist point of view. Juliet an alumni at Northumbria, visited the Entrepreneurial Business Management course back in October 2015, to be a member of a panel for an external generator session (An idea generating session for an external business). Juliet now wants to work closely with the course.
Juliet introduced us to Pete Flint, Co-founder of Trulia, Angel investor and a member of the founding team of LastMinute.com. We were also fortunate enough to meet Anjney Midha, who runs the seed fund at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
We also spent a day cycling around Google Headquarters on our Google bikes and touring around Stanford University campus. The remaining days of the trip were spent in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where we both became part of the Hollywood lifestyle. Swapping suits for hiking gear and swim shorts we ventured out to the Hollywood Sign and spent the afternoon working out at muscle beach, in Santa Monica.
In San Francisco we attended an all-day travel conference, where we met like-minded people who want to change the travel industry. The conference gave us an insight into the future of the travel sector and how online profiling plays such an important role for conversion rates for hotel bookings. We met various start-up travel companies, one of which offered to sponsor us to come out and work in San Francisco with them. The conference gave us some valuable contacts, such as Brian Lip, ex-Senior Director of Expedia, Gillian Morris, founder of Hitlist – the flight price monitoring service and Steven Chung, co-founder of Whooshfly – a private jet startup.
Overall the trip was a huge success for us. Having extended our contacts beyond the Newcastle city walls, we feel as though we now have what it takes to make our idea a reality. We are in the process of creating a landing page for our business, where we aim to create a following by signing people up to our newsletter and we will start to sell unsold flight inventory. In September we plan to be running a stall at fresher’s fair, advertising cheap last minute flights and we will be signing people onto our mailing list who are interested in our service.
Our trip to Silicon Valley taught us that airlines make most of their money from business class travelers, if we can segment the market from them and sell to leisure travelers then the airlines might be interested in providing us with unsold inventory. We feel as though we have made great developments from the trip and we just wanted to say thanks to the EBM program for sponsoring us to go to California. Michael and Natalia thank you also for coming out with us and making the trip such a success!
- Eleanor Hudson and Jonny Forsey, founders of WaitattheGate.com and teampreneurs of ITM
Please check out a video of our trip: