Skinny Air Labs secures $20 million in initial close of Prairie-focused venture fund

Skinny Air Labs secures $20 million in initial close of Prairie-focused venture fund

The Prairie tech agency has targeted $100 million for initially fund.


Slim Air Labs has secured $20 million CAD in the first near of its 1st fund as the enterprise studio appears to be like to bolster the Prairie tech ecosystem.

The original near consists of $4 million from the Prospect Calgary Investment Fund (OCIF). Thin Air’s in general goal for its initially fund is $100 million.

In addition to OCIF, buyers in the fund involve Calgary prosperity management agency Sandstone Asset Administration Inc, other undisclosed loved ones places of work, and substantial-internet-truly worth people and entrepreneurs which includes Hanif Joshaghani (CEO of Symend) and Adrian Camara (CEO of Athennian). Thin Air managing spouse James Lochrie told BetaKit that virtually all the cash in the initial shut will come from the Calgary space. Lochrie named the go intentional and an emphasis on the fund’s intention to spend in regional providers.

“It’s just develop into apparent now [to invest in Alberta tech], whilst 5 many years ago, this was not an evident enjoy.”

Skinny Air Labs bought its get started around 2019 all over the time that Lochrie and fellow Wave co-founder Kirk Simpson sold the firm to H&R Block in 2019 for $537 million CAD. Simpson stayed on at Wave, although Lochrie moved to Calgary, where he has roots, in pursuit of expanding Prairie tech. He created Slender Air alongside Jim Gibson and Greg Hart (Gibson has given that departed Slender Air for the University for State-of-the-art Digital Know-how at the Southern Alberta Institute of Engineering).

Lochrie has been a loud and outspoken advocate for the Alberta tech sector, most notably following outgoing Premier Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Celebration (UCP) took electrical power in 2019 and slash spending relevant to tech and innovation. Lochrie was also one of a number of ecosystem users furnishing comments to the province’s Innovation Money Performing Team, which set recommendations that knowledgeable the government’s COVID-19 financial recovery system.

Lochrie has also been an active angel trader in Calgary due to the fact 2016, with early cheques in providers like Athennian, Stellaralgo, SomaDetect, and Symend, which lifted 1 of the premier Collection B rounds in Alberta historical past in 2021.

Connected: Calgary healthtech and gaming showcased at Slim Air Labs start occasion

Skinny Air Labs Fund I continues Lochrie’s early investing mentally. The venture studio’s intention is to aid startups attain original traction, concentrating on early, seed, and seed-plus investments. The fund has by now built 17 investments to date, together with PayShepherd, Arbor, Fillip, and Provision.

Lochrie mentioned the expansion he has seen in the Alberta tech sector since he started angel investing, arguing that at the time there ended up number of early-phase, scalable corporations. Today, Lochrie mentioned Slim Air sees hundreds of businesses each month. “It’s just grow to be evident now [to invest in Alberta tech], while 5 yrs ago, this was not an evident participate in,” he mentioned. “But now it is.”

Skinny Air has grown up alongside a group of enterprise money also on the lookout to bolster the Prairie tech sector. Regina-centered Conexus Credit history Union has released a $30 million enterprise fund in 2019 that has because sprouted a 2nd fund, Emmertech, which invests in Canadian AgTech. Wide Road Bull VC released its 2nd fund in 2020 with a concentrate on re-seed and seed-stage providers in the Prairies. Harvest Builders was established in 2019 by SkipTheDishes co-founder and former CEO Chris Simair, and last yr introduced an financial investment fund to assistance its undertaking studio, which has backed the likes of Neo.

In the midst of these cash, undertaking capital financial investment in Alberta has skyrocketed in the initial quarter of 2022, startups in the province collectively passed a new history for quarterly enterprise funding. In whole, $205.6 million was lifted, symbolizing a 212 per cent maximize from the former quarter, and a 26 percent boost yr-over-calendar year.

“Over the past selection of many years, there has been escalating momentum in the Calgary ecosystem linked to seed funding and it continues to speed up,” Lochrie told BetaKit at the time. “As all those firms are maturing, we are starting off to see a range of them strike scale and elevate far more significant investment rounds.”

Further than its enterprise fund, Skinny Air also delivers startup companies to the two portfolio and non-portfolio corporations. These expert services are twofold: Funding Catalyst and Solution Traction, the latter of which expanded to Toronto earlier this calendar year.

In addition to Lochrie, the latest crew at the rear of Skinny Air involves two general associates, Raghu Bharat and Rick Bird, as very well as well being guide and head of encounter Crystal Phillips.

Connected: Platform Innovation Centre promised $3.3 million in provincial, municipal funding forward of official start

Speaking with BetaKit previously this yr, Lochrie observed that Skinny Air had anticipated to safe $30 million in its preliminary shut. Lochrie described that the remaining $10 million is still envisioned to be invested in the fund, but is delayed in thanks diligence. Skinny Air carries on to elevate towards its $100 million concentrate on, with the intention of closing the remaining money by the close of this 12 months or early upcoming year.

In conditions of OCIF’s participation, the Town of Calgary-backed team made a fund for early-stage investment decision into Calgary corporations all through the to start with quarter of 2021. Its investment in Slender Air follows discounts manufactured with a slew of Alberta-targeted funds and plans, which includes CDL-Rockies, The51, Speed up Fund, InterGen, and AltaML. In 2021, OCIF also brought Harvest Builders to the province with a $4 million investment decision. OCIF also potential customers the city’s participation in Alberta Scaleup and Growth Accelerator system, which has introduced international accelerators, like Plug and Engage in, to the region.

“Our financial commitment in Skinny Air Labs Fund I allows to fill a vital hole in supporting pre-seed and seed-stage providers, with the funds and skills to assistance them improve community enterprises in Calgary,” claimed Mark Blackwell, chair of OCIF’s board of administrators. “The whole Slender Air Labs team has a sturdy monitor document of supporting neighborhood business people and we are thrilled about our expenditure in a Calgary-centric undertaking money fund that aligns with our eyesight of increasing the Calgary technological know-how and innovation ecosystem.”

Picture courtesy Patrick Wu.

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