Sir Richard Branson Takes To The Skies To Help Young Entrepreneurs

To help celebrate Virgin America's first international service, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will host a star-studded event at 35,000 feet on Tuesday, designed to celebrate the airline's continued expansion and to provide mentoring to young entrepreneurs on the ground.

The flight, which will originate in Los Angeles, stop in San Francisco, and then head to Toronto, will be a celebration in the sky, including a performance by hip-hop star and Toronto native Drake. The daylong event will also feature a ribbon cutting with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Virgin America CEO David Cush, and will culminate with an even bigger celebration on the tarmac at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

But it's not all fun and games. The legendary entrepreneur, who is a member of the AOL Small Business Board of Directors, also hopes to give young entrepreneurs their big breaks. Branson will field "airplane pitches" from aspiring moguls en route to Toronto. Several other members of the Board of Directors -- Method co-founder Eric Ryan, Greenleaf Book Group founder and CEO Clint Greenleaf, and AOL Small Business Executive Editor Rod Kurtz -- along with Thompson Hotel Group founder Jason Pomeranc and VeeV co-founders Courtney and Carter Reum, will also take part.

The airplane pitches are part of the Virgin Unite Young Entrepreneurs program, which provides training and seed funds to disadvantaged young people. Virgin America is raising funds for the program in conjunction with the launch of its new San Francisco and Los Angeles service to Toronto.

The original version of this article appeared on AOL Small Business on 6/28/10.