Joining the mile high debate club

While inaugural flights are nothing new to us at Virgin America, you can be certain that no two are ever the same. Yesterday’s inaugural Virgin America flight from San Francisco to Denver was certainly unique, with yours truly taking part in a live streamed discussion from 35,000 ft

It was only fitting as we were connecting two major tech hubs - Silicon Valley and ‘Silicon Mountain’, which is an appropriate nickname for Denver, as it continues to grow into a major hub for technology companies and start-ups. This rapid growth has made it the number one route requested by our business travellers, who consider reliable connectivity a business essential. 

Why should that be any different when you’re on a plane? Virgin America makes connectivity a certainty, not a gamble, with its fleetwide WiFi (and even faster satellite WiFi on brand new aircraft) – that’s right, every flight has WiFi – power outlets, and our Red In-flight entertainment system at every seat. We were so confident about Virgin America’s ability to connect entrepreneurs that we arranged a live Skype interview with Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson and a unique live-streamed LinkedIn conversation on the future of entrepreneurism – all from 35,000 feet. 

It was great to also be joined by so many enthusiastic entrepreneurs on board. LinkedIn editor Dan Roth hosted our discussion, which saw Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and me field questions from students in KIPP Colorado’s Tech Entrepreneurship Program on the ground and company founders from the Virgin Media Accelerator, which is being powered by Colorado’s very own Techstars, who were in the cabin with us.

The LinkedIn conversation centred on an aspect of business which is going to be crucial for any entrepreneur starting up today – getting the blend of connectivity and face to face contact just right. Ask any entrepreneur to imagine how they’d function out of the office for a day without their smartphone and they’d probably tell you it’s not worth thinking about. In fact, Virgin America also announced a new partnership with LinkedIn that will make it even easier for travellers to stay productive in-flight with access to - so travellers can stream thousands of video tutorials taught by expert instructors across a variety of topics, including business leadership, development, and technology and web design – all from the sky. 

Yet despite everyone now being connected nearly all of the time, you cannot run a business without getting out there and meeting people. Be that spending time with your staff, speaking with other leaders in your industry or hopping on a flight between San Francisco and Denver for a meeting. New entrepreneurship hubs, such as WeWork, are inspiring places to spend time and the amount of great ideas and innovation that comes out of them is proof of the impact that physically being in the same place and bouncing ideas off others can have.

Denver itself is now a thriving hub of innovation and thanks to the hard work of Mayor Michael Hancock and others it’s now one of the best places in the US to do business. It’s a waste of time starting a business somewhere that you wouldn’t want to actually spend time. Thankfully, as well as having all the resources you need to do business, Colorado has some stunning scenery and outdoor activities to enjoy. Not to mention some progressive law makers!

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