Luge Capital raises $85M to invest in Canadian fintech startups

There are 831 financial technology startups headquartered in or operating in Canada, according to data collected by Fintech Growth Syndicate, yet only a handful of venture capital funds specializing in the region and sector.

Luge Capital, a fintech and AI-focused venture capital fund headquartered in Montreal and Toronto, is looking to close that gap. The firm has raised $85 million for its debut fund and plans to make seed investments as small as $150,000 and as large as $2 million.

The relatively new outfit, founded in 2018, is led by David Nault, a former vice president at iNovia Capital, and Karim Gillani, who previously led corporate development for Xoom, the PayPal-acquired remittances startup.

Luge Capital is backed by iA Financial Group, BDC Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Desjardins Group, La Capitale, Sun Life Financial and Fonds de solidarité FTQ. In a somewhat unusual series of events, some of the limited partners approached Nault and Gillani and said if they raised a fund, they would bankroll them. And so the pair left their jobs to raise a debut vehicle to support fintech companies in Canada’s growing tech scene.

Luge Capital will deploy capital to startups across North America, but will focus on Canadian tech.

“We’ve seen growth in terms of absolute numbers of fintech companies,” Gillani tells TechCrunch. “We think it’s because there’s new access to capital. Companies can now find themselves getting funded and there’s a bigger appetite for larger companies to partner with these startups.”

Luge Capital has to date made five investments, three of which they were able to disclose. Gillani says they’ve provided checks to Flinks, which helps businesses connect apps and users’ bank accounts; Owl, a provider of a service that supports financial institutions with customer onboarding, fraud detection and more; and insurance technology company Finaeo.

According to PitchBook, nearly $3 billion has been invested in Canadian startups, a record year for the country.

“We are going to see more growth in venture in Canada,” says Gillani. “I think we are going to see founders in Canada having more of a global mindset such that they look at Canada as an initial market for them, with a focus to expand geographically soon after they’ve been able to prove the model in Canada. And I think because of that dynamic, we are going to see more and more outside capital to finance these founders.”