Lancaster University

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The sky’s the limit for enterprising business students

05/03/2012 00:00:00
​A business idea developed by students from Lancaster University Management School has been awarded a £10,000 innovation prize at an international competition.

tripTAB, an onboard entertainment tablet for long haul flights, is already attracting interest from easyJet, Ryanair and British Airways. Holding hundreds of films, music and games, the tablet will be available for low cost rent during a long haul flight.

Estimated turnover in the first year is £1.2m even after splitting the profits with the airline.

tripTAB was created by undergraduates Varun Shah, Kevin Foster, Alex Roberts, Melissa McCue and Julius Rackys who formed a team on the New Venture Planning module, led by Ian Gordon of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development.

Varun said: “It gave you the space to think out of the box and to apply the skills you’d learnt in three years to real life.”

He got the idea for tripTAB while bored on a 10 hour flight home to Mumbai.

“tripTAB is perfect for anyone with nothing to do because it is pre-loaded with rich media content which you can access with a special code so families get suitable content to share.”

He pitched tripTAB at the Startup Weekend contest in Newcastle in April, where he was one of twelve teams over an intensive two days during which he only slept for a few hours.

The prize includes £10,000 of mentor support from Newcastle Science City and access to a further £10,000 of venture-capital, with the potential to access up to £150,000.

The funding will enable Varun Shah and Kevin Foster to develop tripTAB into a real product which could be available to plane passengers within six months.

Kevin said: “We could not have done this without Lancaster University where we have had so much help with everything from technical support, IP, setting up a business and developing software.”

There are plans to manufacture the bespoke tablet in India or China and update the licensed media content every few months.

Their business model provides the airlines with free tripTABs, with the profits from rental split. The airlines also benefit from lower fuel costs since heavyweight cabling to passenger seats can be ripped out and replaced with tripTABs.

Kevin said: “Building a business is tough and stressful but incredibly exciting. It feels fantastic that this could pay off and the potential to expand into Europe and Asia is huge.” 

Varun said: “You need passion, dedication and fire and you need to stick to your guns and go for it.”