The Reverse Pitch: Amadeus Ventures

Amadeus Ventures was founded in 2014 as the venture arm of Amadeus, a company working to shape the future of travel. Amadeus builds solutions for a wide segment of the travel industry, working with airlines and airports, hotels, railways, tour operators, search engines and travel agencies. Headquartered in Madrid, today Amadeus operates in 190+ markets and has 17,000 employees around the world. Since the founding of their venture activities, Amadeus Ventures has introduced more than 150 startups to the company's business units and has developed more than 20 joint projects with their portfolio companies. So far this year, their investments into European tech includes leading a series A funding round in Dawex, a B2B data marketplace based in France. Amadeus' investment into Dawex is emblematic of their approach to investing in companies at the crossroads of technology and travel (check out their full portfolio here).

I connected with the Head of Amadeus Ventures, Suzanna Chiu, to learn more about their venture activity and why the future of travel is so exciting. Suzanna stands tall in the industry, appearing on Global Corporate Venturing's 2019 Powerlist and is active in the ecosystem as a frequent speaker and jury member at events including Madrid's South Summit.

Can you summarize your investment thesis in three sentences?

SC: Amadeus Ventures is a corporate investment program that looks for early-stage start-ups sitting at the cross road of travel and technology, executing business ideas that will directly and indirectly improve the experiences of the end travellers. Through this investment program, Amadeus aims to encourage and nurture innovation applicable to the travel industry that are relevant for our current and future customers. By doing so, we not only offer funding but also our industry expertise and network to help young start-ups to achieve their strategic and commercial goals.

What industries and business models are you most interested in investing in?

SC: As the leader in technology for the travel industry, we identify start-ups that can either transform the travelers’ experience - directly or indirectly- and/or bring operational efficiencies to our customers. Amadeus works with a wide range of customers including airlines, travel agencies, hotels, airports, rental car companies and more. Given the global scope of our business, we look for business ideas and models that can be scaled across borders and would also consider B2B and B2C business models.

Which technologies do you find most exciting right now, and why?

SC: In terms of technology, at this moment we are particularly excited about start-ups working on new technologies that can be applied to other industries as we can also test the application within the travel industry. For instance, Artificial intelligence is one of the technologies we are keeping a close eye on. We are equally interested in Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Internet of Things and Blockchain.

How much do you typically invest?

SC: Amadeus Ventures usually invests in early stage start-ups – typically around Seed Extension or Series A rounds but there are exceptions. As mentioned, we typically look for companies who have turned their business concept into product prototypes already and are used by trend-setting customers. This is an important factor for us because once there is a solution in the market with initial customers, the start-up can benefit from Amadeus’ global network and know-how to scale their operations. Our investment ticket size varies depending on the deal and is sized to reflect our strategic intent for that transaction.

Beyond funding, where does Amadeus provide the most “value-add” for founders?

SC: One of the key benefits is about having access to Amadeus’ global network of customers. It’s also about working closely together with our business units to showcase their product/solution and develop mutually constructive commercial relationships. That’s why it is so important that we only invest in start-ups who already have some initial traction as the market where we’d be able to help with scale up acceleration.

In addition to that, they will have marketing exposure from selected customer / media events. Each year we dedicate 10+ Amadeus customer events around the world where start-ups can meet and interact face-to-face with their potential customers. These are very high value, invitation-only events where start-up founders can pitch their concept to high-level execs of the most influential companies across the travel sector.

Another important advantage which start-ups can benefit from is access to Amadeus’ expertise and technology. The people at Amadeus are the company’s true competitive advantage - it is thanks to our 19,000 employees that we have built and maintained a leading position in the global travel industry over the years. The companies we interact with through Amadeus Ventures can benefit from their expertise and experience in the travel industry which is a complex sector.

Do you have any geographic restrictions on investments?

SC: Amadeus is made up of a truly global team. With over 145 nationalities, we serve customers in more than 190 countries. As a global company, we not only have a mandate to diversify our investments: it’s something we believe in. Since the launch of the program in 2014, we’ve invested in companies based in the US, Canada, Israel, UK, France and Spain. We’re looking at expanding this scope in the short term and keeping a close eye on potential opportunities in the Asia Pacific region as well.

What is your commitment to diversity and inclusion?

SC: It’s a two-way street! Besides the fact that we regularly monitor the start-up ecosystem and, particularly companies related to the travel sector, we also attend tech start-up events. This is a great forum to get in touch with us and find out more about ways of collaborating. In addition to this, start-ups who are interested in finding out more about Amadeus Ventures can proactively reach out to us by filling in the dedicated questionnaire available on our website.

If you could invest in any type of business or technology right now (real or imagined) what would that be?

SC: There’s so much innovation right now, we’re really spoiled for choice - AI, blockchain and IoT - and the combination of those technologies, is changing the world.

What is the best way for founders to get in touch?

Please fill out our questionnaire - we read every submission!

Thank you Suzanna and Amadeus!

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