TeamABC, a new €30 million venture capital fund centred on early-stage companies in the travel sector, is to be headquartered in Dublin.
The fund, which has already made its first investment, is interested in backing disruptive technology start-ups focused on increasing sustainability and digital transformation in travel and logistics.
"We're investing in efficient and sustainable air, land and sea transportation and tourism," general partner Clyde Hutchison told The Irish Times.
TeamABC has been established by Mr Hutchison and two other partners who, between them, have decades of experience working for airlines and/or are experienced investors and start-up experts.
They include Aurelius Noell, formerly chief commercial officer at IAG's low-cost carrier Level and at Viva Air, the Latin America-focused airline established by Declan Ryan, the son of Ryanair founder Tony Ryan.
Also co-founding the fund is Brian Marrinan, who played a key role in establishing the State's first start-up accelerator programme, NDRC. He also co-led Propeller Shannon, a start-up accelerator for aviation, travel tech and drone innovators, along with Mr Hutchison, who previously founded Viva Air Labs, Latin America's first innovation hub for aviation in Medellín, Colombia.
Mr Hutchison said the fund intends to invest in companies at pre-seed level with investments to be in "the hundreds of thousands, rather than in millions". However, he added that the fund's name reflected its founding partners' intention to continue to back portfolio companies through Series A, B and C investment rounds.
The fund, which also has offices in Vienna, Dubai and Mexico City, last month made its first investment, backing Yeildin, a French airline revenue management-focused start-up that is being touted as a potential tech unicorn – a private company capable of reaching a $1 billion valuation.
Mr Hutchison said TeamABC has a number of other investments at due diligence stage. He added that while the fund is eying Irish start-ups, its focus is global.
"One of things we learned from Propeller was that Ireland is an amazing place to have a travel and transportation fund because of its success in the space, including the founding of Europe's largest airline. It is continuing to innovate as well as can be seen by the aviation authority's proactive attitude towards drones," said Mr Hutchison.
He said that while travel companies have been under extreme pressure due to the Covid crisis, he expects pent-up demand from consumers to be ahead of industry forecasts once things return to something like normality.
“Everyone wants to go off and do their bucket-list trip although they will want to travel in a more sustainable manner,” said Mr Hutchison.
“Sustainability is critical for all companies in the space and it is a huge challenge. But there are a huge number of new technologies coming through and it is these we want to invest in. It is also these that we want travel companies to invest in too, because doing something like tree planting as a way to offset carbon emissions simply isn’t going to cut it in the future,” he added.