AirTree has raised $250m for ‘Australia’s largest’ startup venture fund

Craig Blair, AirTree Ventures.

AirTree Ventures has announced that it has raised $250 million to create what it calls “Australia’s largest venture fund”.

The capital will be split between two purposes: an early stage fund — for fresh startups that need seed, series A or series B funding — and an “opportunity” fund, for more mature companies that need cash for scaling.

“It’s a 50-50 split of the $250 million between the two funds,” AirTree managing partner Craig Blair told Business Insider. “If there’s a bigger [Australian] fund, we’d love to know!”

AirTree previously announced a $60 million fund in 2014, now supporting “17 outstanding businesses”, including names like Canva, 90 Seconds, Xplor and Edrolo.

“None of them have any existential issues and most are hitting their [target] numbers,” Blair said.

With such past success, the new $250 million was raised in a “matter of months”, courtesy of support from previous investors.

“The fundraising journey didn’t take too long… we were very lucky,” said Blair. “Almost all of the investors from previous funds came back in.”

AirTree co-founder and partner Daniel Petre has boasted that two big-name superannuation funds are among its new investors, although Blair declined to name them.

Petre said: “We are honoured that they have chosen us to make their largest single investment in venture – it is wonderful to see these organisations supporting Australia’s innovation agenda. Working on behalf of the savings of all Australians gives us a heightened sense of responsibility.”

With the new money, AirTree now has the ability to grant cheques ranging from $250,000 to $25 million.

“Our goal is to provide the first cheque to world class Australian and Kiwi entrepreneurs. They can be based anywhere – we have a global mandate,” said Blair.

“We are also looking to support great companies who see Australia as an important market, and can act as a local partner as they expand here.”

Beneficiaries receive capital and back-office support from AirTree as well.

“This includes support around best practices, recruiting, product, customer development, international expansion and much more,” Blair said. “We are building out a platform to give our companies an unfair advantage as they grow.”

Canva co-founder and COO Cliff Obrecht backed up the importance of this support: “Airtree have been wonderful supporters of Canva. Their operational background makes the world of difference when working through the challenges we face.”

AirTree itself is undergoing expansion, also announcing that John Henderson from London’s White Star Capital started today as a full partner. The company also earmarked a big-name recruit yet to be revealed from “a global tech giant”.

“We are also actively looking for a head of platform and community and a growth partner to extend our capabilities even further,” Blair said.