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Uber is letting start-ups pitch to investors during a taxi ride in Europe

Strongest start-up will be flown out to meet Uber Chief Executive to 'discuss their business strategies'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 May, 2016, 10:50pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 1:05pm

Uber has launched a start-up competition in Europe that will allow entrepreneurs to ride in a taxi while pitching to experienced venture capitalists.

Called UberPITCH, the initiative will allow founders to give a short elevator pitch and then receive seven minutes of feedback during an Uber ride.

It kicks off today in Vienna, before moving to another 36 cities.

The best idea in each country will get "support and mentorship" from investors from EQT Ventures, and Atomico, the venture capital firm run by the founder of Skype, Niklas Zennström.

The strongest start-up out of this shortlist will be flown out to meet Uber Chief Executive Travis Kalanick in Berlin to "discuss their business strategies".

Kalanick announced UberPITCH during a keynote speech at the Start-up Fest conference in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

"Over the next month we are going to have famous seed investors, VCs (venture capitalists), members of the start-up ecosystem in cars across 30 cities across the continent in Europe ... you push a button and you can pitch (to) a VC," Kalanick said.

"I've seen a lot more failure than I have seen success, I know that you probably won't believe that. But trust me, I spent many years running out of money ... but I never could push a button and pitch to somebody so I accidentally had to run into them in the hotel."

Each country will have a its own blog with a link to submit an idea. If the idea is shortlisted, a promo code will be shared with the entrepreneur allowing them to unlock UberPITCH in their app. At a certain time, participants will request a ride through UberPITCH. Rides are free and will start and end at the participant's location.

Europe has recently seen a rise in "unicorns" - start-ups valued at over US$1 billion - but there have been questions over why the region has not been able to build companies as big as the likes of Google or Facebook .

Uber - itself reportedly valued at over US$62 billion - is hoping to provide support for young companies in Europe.