I’m excited to announce that we’ve launched a new early stage Canadian venture capital fund with a first close of $75M and that will invest in fintech and AI applied to fintech. We’ve named the fund Luge Capital.
If you’re wondering why we picked that name, it’s because luge athletes face many of the same life changing experiences and emotions as entrepreneurs. They live through lots of twists and turns, manage risk and are driven to win. They strategize, compete with all their energy and push beyond their limits. They’re daring and maybe even a bit crazy. These are the characteristics we look for in founders.
I’ve always enjoyed working with passionate entrepreneurs in building their business while sharing my own “twists and turns” as an entrepreneur. When I first became a VC with iNovia Capital, I quickly realized that you have to be an entrepreneur to be a VC and I was reminded of that when raising a fund. Much like building a startup, raising and operating a fund is a lot of work and you have to choose your strategy, LPs and team carefully to win the race. And that I did. I’m happy to share that I’ve teamed up with my Toronto based partner, Karim Gillani, formerly of PayPal, Xoom and BlackBerry (more below). And together, we’ve partnered with iNovia Capital, one of the most renowned funds in Canada and a major player in the United States as well. They bring immense value to Luge and the founders we invest in by opening access to their resources and talented team. We are actively collaborating together and co-investing on the most promising opportunities.
What’s unique about Luge?
Focus: We are specifically focused on investing in early-stage fintech companies and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions applied to financial services. Over the coming years these sectors are going to go through major transformations and the opportunities are huge.
Industry Partners: We’ve partnered with world-renowned institutions that bring considerable industry insights and resources to enable us to help entrepreneurs build global businesses. Our investors will be customers, partners, advisors, co-investors and even future acquirers of businesses we invest in. They are keen to collaborate and their technical executive teams will form an advisory committee for the benefit of Luge to tap into their views and mandates that are directly applicable to our portfolio companies.
Access to Data: Our AI and data-driven companies will have the opportunity to partner with our investors to access key insights in order to build best-of-breed solutions.
Experience: The Luge team is a diverse group of industry experienced investors, founders, operators, executives and engineers who want to help provide entrepreneurs with meaningful connections, insights and guidance.
iNovia Capital partnership: Our team and entrepreneurs can access their team, deep network, talent acquisition services, CEO Summit events and other insights and resources to help build truly global companies.
Who do we invest in?
We love entrepreneurs challenging the status quo with new ways of thinking and modern technology. The fund will be supporting the development of companies and innovative solutions that make the customer experience better, financial institutions more efficient and that use data and artificial intelligence for decision making. We’re particularly interested in data security, improved lending platforms, wealth management technologies, mobile payments and commerce, cross-border payments, blockchain applications, machine learning, regulation tech, insurance tech and other categories that have yet to emerge.
Size and stage of investment
We are early stage equity investors with a focus on seed and series A, with a first check size of $250K to $2M. We act as lead investors or invest alongside other value-added funds or financial institutions. In follow-on rounds we will write much bigger checks with our co-investor network, our fund investors and iNovia Capital.
Our investors and partners
More partners that are onboard with our mission will be announced soon.
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Meet our Team
David Nault — General Partner (Montreal)
David has been building early stage technology companies as an investor, founder or senior member of the executive team for over 20 years. Prior to co-founding Luge Capital, David was an investor with iNovia Capital, a leading North American venture capital fund. Before becoming a VC, David was president of Callio Technologies, an information security compliance software provider, whose intellectual property was acquired in 2009. Prior to running Callio, he managed business development and partnerships at Pivotal Payments, Canada’s largest privately-owned payment processor, which he helped grow from startup to over 60,000 customers, 400 employees and $8 billion in transaction volume.
David has a BCom with a major in Marketing and a minor in Finance from Concordia University in Montreal.
Karim Gillani — General Partner (Toronto)
Karim has an extensive background in fintech, mobile tech, engineering, finance and strategy. Prior to Luge, Karim led Corporate Development for Xoom, a leading cross-border remittance company that was acquired by PayPal in 2015 for USD $890 million. Before that, Karim managed M&A and investment activities for BlackBerry in Silicon Valley. He developed the company’s overall strategy for mobile payments and commerce, including NFC payments, P2P and App World. Karim spent several years working for Redknee Solutions in the UK where he designed network infrastructure, including mobile money solutions, for carriers in East Africa and Western Europe.
Karim has a BASc in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo, an MSc in Finance and Economic Policy from the University of London and an LLM Master of Laws from the University of Toronto. Karim is a Charter Member of the C100, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment.
Laviva Mazhar — Investment Analyst
Prior to joining Luge Capital, Laviva was an analyst at Ferst Capital Partners (FCP), a fintech focused investment firm and startup foundry. At FCP, she spent her time helping build portfolio companies and supporting their fundraising processes and operations, finding new investment opportunities and developing the firm’s brand in the fintech community.
Laviva is also a VC advisor at Front Row Ventures. She was an associate at Founder Institute Montreal and part of the Product Hunt Montreal team. Laviva was also selected to be on the Global Women in FinTech Powerlist.
Laviva holds a BCom degree with double majors in Economics and Finance from McGill University.
Sonia Gasparini — Marketing and Operations Manager
Sonia started her career in the credit card group of National Bank of Canada and then moved into retail and commercial banking at TD Bank. Her curiosity in financial services led her to investment banking in Milan, Italy where she worked in the operations and back office management at JP Morgan.
After spending a couple of years in financial markets, her passion for marketing and high tech brought her back to Canada to help software entrepreneurs with their go-to-market strategy. She then joined Monster (online employment solutions) as they launched The Foundry, a digital agency specializing in employer marketing solutions for their clients.
At Luge Capital, she is responsible for supporting the operations, impact team and ecosystem development activities. Sonia has BCom degree with a major in Marketing and minor in International Business from McGill University.