Launch of Luge Capital, a new fund focused on fintech and artificial intelligence applied to financial services
Objective: Develop young innovative companies to build best-of-breed financial services
Montreal and Toronto, June 11, 2018 - Luge Capital, a new venture capital fund specifically focused on early-stage fintech companies and artificial intelligence (AI) solutions applied to financial services, today announced that it has completed a $75 million round of financing to begin operations. Initially, $50 million of the raised capital was announced in October 2017 by the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and Desjardins Group, two of the fund's major investors. Sun Life Financial, the Fonds de Solidarité FTQ and La Capitale are also significant participants. Luge may expand the fund even further up to $100 million in the coming months.
Luge invests in teams that improve financial services for people, businesses and financial institutions. The fund will support the development of innovative solutions that improve customer experiences, enhance efficiency for financial institutions and implement data-driven methods and artificial intelligence for decision-making. Luge Capital will concentrate on Seed and Series A financing, with initial investments between $250,000 and $2 million.
"We have partnered with world-renowned institutions that bring considerable industry knowledge and resources to enable us to help entrepreneurs build their businesses," said David Nault, Co-Founder and General Partner in Luge's Montreal office. "In addition, 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."
"We are looking for young mission-driven companies that challenge how the world interacts with financial services," said Karim Gillani, Co-Founder and General Partner in Luge's Toronto office. "We invest in bold teams that demonstrate passion, manage risk and optimize for performance."
"We are delighted for Luge Capital to commence its activities. This specialized fund, created on an initiative of la Caisse, will promote the development of innovative technologies that will accelerate the digital transformation of financial services," stated Pierre Miron, Executive Vice-President and Chief Operations and IT Officer at la Caisse. "With its experienced management team and committed institutional financial partners, Luge Capital possesses every advantage to quickly carve out a prime position in major financial centres and begin deploying its capital."
Desjardins Group President and CEO, Guy Cormier is proud to be playing an active part in creating this new fund, with the help of Desjardins Capital. "We are witnessing a revolution in financial and digital technology. There is a booming start-up ecosystem in this sector. Desjardins wants to support and help develop this incredibly exciting industry."
The Luge team is a diverse group of investors, founders, operators and engineers who work closely with entrepreneurs to offer meaningful connections and guidance. David Nault, who has more than 20 years of entrepreneurial and investing experience, will lead the Montreal office and Karim Gillani, who has extensive experience in fintech, will run the Toronto office (see their complete biographies below). In addition to the core team, Luge has also partnered with iNovia Capital with whom they will collaborate on co-investment opportunities and operations.
Why the name Luge Capital?
Luge athletes face the same experiences and emotions as entrepreneurs. They live through twists and turns, manage risk and are driven to succeed. They think carefully about strategy, compete with all their energy and push beyond their limits. They are daring, maybe even a bit crazy. That is what we look for in founders.
For more information (for journalists only):
Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
1 866-835-8444, ext. 556 3163
Sun Life Financial
Fonds de solidarité FTQ
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, he was an investor with iNovia Capital, a leading venture capital fund in North America. 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 start-up 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 co-founding Luge, Karim led corporate development for Xoom, a leading cross-border remittance company that was acquired by PayPal in 2015 for US$890 million. Before that, he managed M&A activities for BlackBerry in Silicon Valley. Karim developed the company's overall strategy for mobile payments and commerce, including NFC payments, P2P payments and App World. He also 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 BSc 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. He is a Charter Member of C100, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting Canadian technology entrepreneurship and investment.