AirAsia’s digital venture arm, RedBeat Ventures, has established a global venture capital fund, RedBeat Capital, alongside a strategic partnership with 500 Startups, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm based in San Francisco.
RedBeat Capital has been designed to support post-seed stage startups, investing in scalable startups seeking to enter or expand their presence in South-east Asia, with a particular focus on travel and lifestyle; logistics; and financial technology. It will also invest in digital enablers to support these verticals such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and cybersecurity.
Based in San Fancisco, RedBeat Capital will be led by RedBeat Ventures CEO and AirAsia Group’s deputy CEO (technology and digital) Aireen Omar, where the venture capital fund will complement and enhance AirAsia’s transformation into a travel technology company.
She said: “Collaborating with digital, tech-enabled startups will help us to innovate and advance our position as a market-leading travel technology company, and we look forward to exploring the integration of new, disruptive ideas into our growing portfolio of digital businesses.”
Meanwhile, 500 Startups’ current portfolio comprises 2,210 companies and over 5,000 founders in 74 countries – including 10 unicorns 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.
“Talent is both universal and abundant in all corners of the world, especially in South-east Asia” said Christine Tsai, CEO of 500 Startups. “Moreover, this region has more internet users than the US, which presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs.”
AirAsia Group’s 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.
“We intend to operationalise this year, working with Christine and her team to identify and invest in startups that are willing to grow and expand, particularly into South-east Asia where we have the network, data and regional expertise to help accelerate their business.”
RedBeat Ventures currently operates a number of digital-related businesses, including BIGLIFE (AirAsia BIG Loyalty, travel360.com and Vidi), ROKKI, BigPay and RedCargo Logistics.