Airtasker’s $6.5 million capital raise shows that Chinese VCs have a taste for Aussie startups
Sydney based startup Airtasker announced today that it has raised a further AU$6.5 million in capital in order to ramp up its product development, engineering efforts and customer support services, as well as prepare for a number of ‘large scale projects’ that will take place later this year.
Airtasker is a community marketplace that connects people who are looking for help getting everyday tasks and errands completed, with a community of people who are looking to earn some extra cash. The startup was founded by Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui launching in February 2012.
The round was led by Shanghai based Morning Crest Capital, the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), and Australian venture capital firms Exto Partners, Carthona Capital and Black Sheep Capital.
While other media have begun labelling the investment by Morning Crest Capital as ‘one of the first major investments by Chinese-based investors’ in an early stage Australian tech startup, I disagree with those sentiments. Most of the Morning Crest Capital portfolio is currently Australian startups. In addition to being an investor in Tank Stream Ventures, which Fung is closely connected to, the firm has also invested in Pocketbook, GoCatch and SchoolPlaces.
In fact Morning Crest Capital is setting itself up as somewhat of a bridging venture capital firm, giving global companies access to both Chinese funding and markets. “Morning Crest Capital’s expertise and advice will allow us to investigate a broader Asia strategy with Airtasker’s growth,” said Fung.
Airtasker currently claims to have more than 250,000 users across Australia and processes more than $15 million worth of tasks on the platform per year. Fung says that the upcoming new services the company is preparing to release will be “revolutionary for the local services economy”.
A third of the workers on Airtasker are aged over 55, a group that is colloquially labelled the “grey army”. They are using the platform to supplement their retirement incomes and ‘keep busy’ by putting their skills to use.
NRMA Group CEO Tony Stuart said the organisation has been researching investment opportunities in startup businesses offering a range of services that can make members’ lives easier by saving them time and money.
“NRMA chose to support Airtasker, as it offers our 2.4 million Members a resource to easily find assistance with home and office tasks as well as offering an opportunity for casual employment,” Stuart said.