Jennifer Crusca, operating principal at JetBlue Ventures, is one of our top 50 Rising Stars in corporate venturing in 2024.

“I’m a connector,” says Jennifer Crusca, operating principal at JetBlue Ventures. With more than 20 years of experience in the airline industry – 18 of them at JetBlue – Crusca moved over to the ventures team in 2022 where she could use her deep company relationships to create bridges between startups and the
corporate business units.

“My day to day is connecting with individuals across the business to learn about and understand their pain points. My primary responsibility is to gain insight into their strategic needs,” she says.

Crusca then looks for startups that can help relieve those pain points, either already in the investment portfolio or sourced from a wider network. Her understanding of JetBlue’s strategic needs means she weighs in with business development analysis when the team considers potential investments.

It is extremely important to keep growing your network, whether it is on the VC side or with a parent company.

“It is extremely important to keep growing your network, whether it is on the VC side or with a parent company,” says Crusca, who works from JetBlue’s New York headquarters, where she is the visible “face” for the ventures team.

“My aim is to be accessible and make sure everyone is aware that they can approach me, as well as JetBlue,” she says.

One of the ways JetBlue Ventures keeps on top of technology developments is by running a 13-week innovation programme two or three times a year. These are in-depth explorations of a particular technology, looking at how it could serve the airline’s needs.

During the past year, one of the most exciting topics on the agenda has been artificial intelligence (AI). Crusca is personally excited about the opportunities this technology provides, particularly in forecasting and helping to make the operations of the airline run more smoothly. But, she says, there are potential uses for AI in every part of the business and, with the technology evolving so fast, there is no time to lose to develop use cases.

See the full list of GCV Rising Stars for 2024 here.