AirAsia​ launches venture capital fund for innovation

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AirAsia’s digital venture arm, RedBeat Ventures, is establishing a global venture capital fund, RedBeat Capital, with the goal of supporting post-seed stage startups seeking to enter or expand their presence in Southeast Asia, and with a particular focus on travel and lifestyle, logistics and financial technology. RedBeat Capital will also invest in digital enablers to support these verticals, such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and cybersecurity.

The fund is being set up alongside a strategic partnership with 500 Startups, a leading startup accelerator and venture capital firm based in San Francisco. RedBeat Capital will also be based in San Francisco, a high-tech area where it can gain access to some of the world’s most highly sought-after accelerator program graduates and ideas.

500 Startups’ current portfolio comprises of 2,210 companies and over 5,000 founders in 74 countries, including 10 unicorns (startup companies with a value of over US$1 billion) such as Twilio, SendGrid, Credit Karma, Canva and Grab, as well as 66 other companies valued at over US$100 million. RedBeat Capital will also seek to co-invest in select 500 Startups portfolio companies.

RedBeat Ventures operates a number of digital-related businesses, including BIGLIFE (AirAsia BIG Loyalty, travel360.com and Vidi), ROKKI, BigPay and RedCargo Logistics, and, through RedBeat Capital, will continue to look for investment opportunities in the high-tech digital space across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas.

“Talent is both universal and abundant in all corners of the world, especially in Southeast Asia,” stated Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups.​ “Moreover, this region has more internet users than the US, which presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs. To have an industry titan like AirAsia building a bridge with Silicon Valley through its partnership with 500 is exciting for our startups, many of which have ambitions for global scale.”

(Second from right) AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, Christine Tsai, CEO and co-founder of 500 Startups, AirAsia deputy group CEO (technology and digital) Aireen Oma,r flanked by cabin crew

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes​ added, “AirAsia and RedBeat Capital are on the lookout for the world’s best and brightest to help us develop a travel technology ecosystem. What better place to start than right here in San Francisco. We intend to operationalize this year, working with Christine and her team to identify and invest in startups that are willing to grow and expand, particularly into Southeast Asia where we have the network, data and regional expertise to help accelerate their business.”

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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