From Bangladesh to Montreal — How I became a fintech investor and joined Luge Capital

Laviva Mazhar
Jul 10, 2018 · 3 min read
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In 2011, I left Bangladesh to embark on a new journey as an international student at McGill, double majoring in Economics and Finance. I fell in love with Montreal — the people, the culture and the booming startup ecosystem and after graduation, I made Montreal my new home.

My first exposure to fintech happened through a company called bKash, which had just launched in Bangladesh before I moved, and was revolutionizing the country’s cash-based economy and bringing P2P, mobile money transfer to a population that has been massively underbanked. It got me curious about the technology aspect of financial services that I hadn’t paid much attention to before (as a student, I thought I would become an equity analyst or pursue a career at a hedge fund).

In 2016, I had the opportunity to join Ferst Capital Partners (FCP) to help build some of the early Canadian fintech startups through its startup foundry and push the overall fintech ecosystem forward in the country. I spent two amazing years at FCP learning about early stage investing and financial services innovation. I also learned how challenging it is to build startups. Fintech startups face unique challenges including high regulatory and compliance barriers, strong security requirements, high cost of customer acquisition and the challenge of gaining user trust (you are touching their financial lives after all). I spent much of my time working with startups to overcome these challenges.

Much like a startup, timing has been a huge factor in every decision I’ve made in life. I had an itch to dive deeper into venture capital and around this time I heard about the Luge Capital fund coming together. The opportunity be part of a new, fintech and fintech AI -focused, early stage venture fund in Canada seemed perfect for me as a next move. It meant that I could continue to be a part of the massive transformation that the financial services industry is undergoing while getting more experience in venture capital.

A key factor in making my move to Luge was the fit with the team. I wanted to work with a team that I respect and can look to for guidance. The partners, Karim and David, have strong tech, business and investing backgrounds, and bring very complementary skill sets to our team and the founders we work with. In addition, I was going to have the opportunity to work alongside my colleague Sonia, who has years of experience in marketing and operations within the financial services industry as well as the star team at iNovia Capital (with whom Luge has a unique partnership). We are growing (we’re hiring an analyst in Toronto) and I look forward to welcoming the new addition to our team.

I always advise founders to choose their investors wisely and it was exciting to see Luge Capital do the same by surrounding itself with strategic and dedicated investors: CDPQ, Desjardins, Sun Life Financial, Fond FTQ and La Capitale. These institutions bring a wealth of industry knowledge and resources to our fund and the founders we work with. On top of that, our AI and data-driven companies will have the opportunity to partner with our LPs to access key insights and data. We are also supported by a stellar team of advisors.

I’m very excited for the journey ahead and humbled to be surrounded by people who are smart, driven and passionate. I’m also looking forward to partnering up and supporting founders as they build their businesses. If you are building a fintech startup, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll be at Startupfest this week or you can reach me here.

Luge Capital

Luge Capital is a venture capital fund focused on early…

Laviva Mazhar

Written by

Fintech VC @ Luge Capital

Luge Capital

Luge Capital is a venture capital fund focused on early stage fintech and artificial intelligence (AI) applied to financial services. We invest in talented teams shaping the way the world interacts with financial services. www.luge.vc — Building fintech champions

Laviva Mazhar

Written by

Fintech VC @ Luge Capital

Luge Capital

Luge Capital is a venture capital fund focused on early stage fintech and artificial intelligence (AI) applied to financial services. We invest in talented teams shaping the way the world interacts with financial services. www.luge.vc — Building fintech champions

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