Airtree’s 3rd Fund: $275m for the Next Gen of Game-Changing Aussie and Kiwi Founders
A significant milestone for us at Airtree, and a reflection of the explosive growth of the Australian and New Zealand tech sector.

Today we announced AirTree’s 3rd fund: a $275m fund to continue to support the most ambitious and game-changing Aussie and Kiwi founders. Similar to our last fund, this new fund will be split into a core fund and an opportunity fund, which means that we are able to write the first cheque at seed stage ($200k) and continue backing founders along their journey all the way to $100m+ rounds.

When Daniel and I reunited to found AirTree in 2014, our ambition was to build an enduring venture capital business that would support future generations of founders and play some small part in our region’s innovation agenda. We had high hopes but in our wildest dreams we would not have imagined we’d be managing over $0.5bn in capital, over 50 portfolio companies and with a team of 16. For that, we want to thank the founders who have chosen us as a partner, our investors for continuing to believe in us, our team who have worked their butts off and everyone in the wider community who has worked with us and cheered us on. We should also acknowledge a healthy dose of good luck along the way.

Launching our latest fund is a significant milestone for us at AirTree but it’s also a reflection of the explosive growth of the Australian and New Zealand tech sector.

When we raised $60m in 2014, it was considered quite a feat. There were only a handful of other local venture funds, a $10m startup funding round was notable and the unicorns of today were still in their gestation period. Now there are over 100 venture funds in our region, locally led $100m rounds are now possible, and Australia and New Zealand are spawning a billion dollar tech company per year on average.

It’s been an honour to have a front row seat to witnessing this growth. As ex-founders, we have experienced the tough, lonely road of startups ourselves; it’s humbling to be in a position to support the next generation of founders.

In addition to working hard for our founders, we are also committed to developing ‘home-grown’ VC talent as part of AirTree’s mission to build a multi-generational venture capital business. A new fund gives us the opportunity to reward our team for their hard work and dedication.

To that end, I’m really pleased to announce that Elicia McDonald has been promoted to Principal where she will lead investments, Emily Close has been promoted to Associate within the investment team, and Melissa Ran has recently joined us to head up Airtree’s Community and Advocacy efforts.

We are thrilled to see everyone step up into new roles and we look forward to them bringing fresh ideas and perspectives to AirTree.

Another notable aspect of our new fund is that it’s backed by six institutional investors including AustralianSuper, SunSuper and Statewide. We have long argued that the best way for super funds to support the local startup sector is to back multiple VC managers across vintages. We can’t, and don’t want to be, the only ones — it takes multiple successful funds for an innovation ecosystem to thrive. The increased interest from super funds in Australian venture capital augurs well for startups. We have also enjoyed consistent support from entrepreneurs and family offices who took a punt on us in our first fund in 2014, some whom we backed 10–20 years ago at Netus and Ecorp. Successful founders reinvesting time and capital to support the next generation of founders is a hallmark of a self sustaining ecosystem which is wonderful to see.

So where to from here? Our mission remains unchanged:

  • Supporting Australia and New Zealand’s most ambitious founders tackling profound societal problems in a range of sectors from health, education, energy, robotics, finance, agriculture and more. We want to be there for their first round and continue backing them over multiple rounds.
  • Working for founders. Offering more than just money. This means scaling our team, continuing to add services like recruitment and comms support. But even more importantly, it means believing in them, empathising with the gruelling journey they’re on, and knowing when to provide support and when to get out of their way.
  • Fighting the good fight for the start-up community with our open-source docs and advocating on issues like R&D tax, mental health and diversity.

It the true privilege of our role that we get to spend time with the very best minds in Australia and New Zealand. There is nothing more gratifying to us than listening to a founder’s vision for the future, believing in them, and taking a front row seat as it unfolds.

A massive thank you to every founder who has chosen us as their partner so far. We now have even more firepower to continue supporting you, and also to back the next generation of ambitious Australian and Kiwi entrepreneurs as they make the future happen sooner. Bring it on! 🚀

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