The final session of the Airport Innovation Forum was the 2nd Annual Airport Shark Tank, where aviation startups compete for a slot in Airport Market Match, a concierge services under the Airport Innovation Accelerator aimed at gaining insights and invaluable pilot opportunities in airports. Alan Boyle of Geekwire moderated this year’s session with a distinguished set of judges including H.B. Siegel (Prime Minister of Ideas, Amazon), Lisa Nelson (Microsoft Ventures), Harriet Baskas (Aviation Journalist (NBCNews, CNBC, USAToday)), and Benjamin B. Richter (Serial entrepreneur and CEO of Bradford Airport Logistics).
Three months before the event, the Airport Innovation Accelerator opened the nomination window for startups interested in one of the 5 available Shark Tank slots. Thirty eight (38) companies from around the globe competed the application online and were included in a online survey sent out to Innovation Insiders, which are airport leaders that volunteer their time and ideas as part of the Accelerator community. When the votes were counted, 5 startups rose to the top:
- Alitheon: a basket of technologies aimed at teaching computers to recognize and perceive the world around them
- Kiana Analytics: a SaaS platform for passenger insights and engagement
- Loud Steps: indoor navigation for the visually impaired
- Sleepbox: Sleep vending machines for public spaces
- Venuetize: mobile-first platform to monetize passenger loyalty
Each startup presented their solution for 5 minutes and answered 5 minutes of questions before the live-polling system allowed the audience to cast their vote for the winner. While the crowd logged their vote, each judge offered their overall assessment. In dramatic fashion, the live-polling system showed erratic results until the very last second, when two winners emerged in an unexpected and unusual tie. Alitheon and Sleepbox gathered over 60% of the votes between them and were presented the Shark Tank Winner certificate and participation in the Airport Market Match program.
For those wondering, last year’s Shark Tank also resulted in a tie with Canard Drones and CrowdVision winning. A summary of last year’s Shark Tank is posted here. We also collected a ‘one year later’ update from each participating company that can be found here.