AirAsia Partners Launches A Venture Capital Fund And Partners With 500 Startups

By Dan Anderson ● March 8, 2019

RedBeat Ventures, the digital venture arm run by low-cost airline carrier AirAsia, announced it is setting up a new venture capital fund called RedBeat Capital. In conjunction with the launch of RedBeat Capital, AirAsia announced a strategic partnership with San Francisco-based startup accelerator and venture capital firm 500 Startups.

RedBeat Capital is going to support post-seed stage startups and scalable startups that are looking to expand their presence in Southeast Asia. And the investments will go towards companies in the travel, logistics, financial technology, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and the IoT space.

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AirAsia flies about 90 million people across 140 destinations across the Asia Pacific every year. In 2001, AirAsia had a fleet of only 2 aircraft and now it has more than 200.

RedBeat Capital is going to have a base in San Francisco that is backed by the airline company. 500 Startups has a portfolio of 2,210 companies and 5,000 founders in 74 countries including 10 unicorns like Twilio, SendGrid, Credit Karma, Canva, and Grab. Plus 500 Startups’ portfolio includes 66 other companies valued at more than $100 million. RedBeat Capital is also going to 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 500 Startups CEO Christine Tsai. “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.”

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RedBeat Capital is going to be led by RedBeat Ventures CEO and AirAsia Group Deputy CEO (Technology and Digital) Aireen Omar.

“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,” added Omar.

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RedBeat Ventures already operates several digital businesses such as BIGLIFE (AirAsia BIG Loyalty, travel360.com and Vidi), ROKKI, BigPay, and RedCargo Logistics.

“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,” explained AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes. “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.”