AirAsia launches venture capital fund in the US and strategic partnership with 500 Startups

SAN FRANCISCO & NEW YORK, 4 March 2019

AirAsia’s digital venture arm, RedBeat Ventures, announced it is establishing a global venture capital fund, RedBeat Capital, alongside a strategic partnership with 500 Startups, a leading startup accelerator and venture capital firm based in San Francisco.

RedBeat Capital is designed to support post-seed stage startups, investing in scalable startups seeking to enter or expand their presence in Southeast Asia, with a particular focus on:

  • Travel and lifestyle

  • Logistics

  • Financial technology

RedBeat Capital will also invest in digital enablers to support these verticals such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and cybersecurity.

With the backing of Asia’s largest low-cost airline by passengers, with 90 million guests flown annually, RedBeat Capital will have a base in San Francisco, gaining access to 500 Startups deal flow, and some of the world’s most highly sought-after accelerator programme graduates and ideas.

500 Startups’ current portfolio comprises of 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 Southeast 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. 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.”

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “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 operationalise 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.”

Led by RedBeat Ventures CEO and AirAsia Group Deputy CEO (Technology and Digital) Aireen Omar, the venture capital fund will complement and enhance AirAsia’s transformation into a travel technology company.

Aireen Omar 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.”

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.

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About RedBeat Ventures

RedBeat Ventures embodies AirAsia’s passion for open innovation and entrepreneurship, where it complements AirAsia’s vision towards becoming a global travel tech company. We invest in non-airline technology sectors, with us overseeing all of AirAsia’s digital lifestyle brands, from travel & lifestyle to logistics, fintech, marketplace and connectivity (BigLife -  a lifestyle platform comprising AirAsia BIG, travel360.com and Vidi; BigPay; RedCargo Logistics; ROKKI and OURSHOP). Our mission is to grow these brands leveraging digital innovations to create a seamless lifestyle experience for our guests, from travelling to dining, shopping, entertainment, culture, art, connectivity and logistics. We also believe ideas should not come only internally but externally from business partners, crowdsourcing, start-ups, etc. This, along with our understanding of what it means to be a start-up, has spurred us to meet founders with grit, determination and passion to dream the impossible. We seek ideas and investment opportunities in disruptive technology start-ups, to create innovation that will benefit the broader society. By partnering with us, you could scale up leveraging on our assets that we have built since 2001, including a brand that is a household name not only in Asean but globally, and a team with a track record of starting up and making a success of an idea that many had thought impossible. We love to hear your ideas and how we can help you to scale up - email us at info@redbeatventures.com. For more information, please visit redbeatventures.com

About AirAsia

AirAsia, the world’s leading low-cost carrier, services an extensive network of over 140 destinations across Asia Pacific. Since starting operations in 2001, AirAsia has carried more than 500 million guests and grown its fleet from just two aircraft to over 200. The airline is proud to be a truly Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) airline with established operations based in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines as well as India and Japan, servicing a network stretching across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and the US. AirAsia has been named the World’s Best Low-Cost Airline at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards 10 times in a row from 2009 to 2018. AirAsia was also awarded World's Leading Low-Cost Airline for the sixth consecutive year at the 2018 World Travel Awards, where it also won the World's Leading Low-Cost Airline Cabin Crew award for a second straight year. Follow AirAsia on Facebook (AirAsia), Twitter (@AirAsia), Instagram (@airasia), YouTube (AirAsia), Weibo (@亚航之家) and WeChat (亚洲航空).

About 500 Startups

500 Startups is a venture capital firm on a mission to discover and back the world’s most talented entrepreneurs, help them create successful companies at scale, and build thriving global ecosystems. 500 is one of the most active seed stage venture capital firms in the world. Since  inception in Silicon Valley, 500 Startups has invested in over 2,000 companies via 4 global funds and 14 thematic funds dedicated to either specific geographic markets or verticals. The firm's 100+ team members are located in multiple locations worldwide, with 500 Startups’ global portfolio of investments spanning over 60 countries. Notable portfolio companies include: Twilio (NYSE: TWLO), SendGrid (NASDAQ: SEND), Credit Karma, Grab, Carousell, Udemy, Kudo (acquired by Grab), Talkdesk, Makerbot (acquired by SSYS), Wildfire (acquired by GOOG), and Viki (acquired by Rakuten).