Early-stage venture capital firm Big Sky Capital, operating in Miami, Kazakhstan and Singapore, today announced its Fund I with $20 million in capital commitments.
Founded by Jahn Karsybaev and Adil Nurgozhin, who met while at the University of Montana — which inspired the firm’s name — after careers in corporate IT and venture capital, respectively. They launched five startups together, some that failed and one that exited, before starting Big Sky Capital.
After exiting their company, they began angel investing, writing small checks mainly to enterprise SaaS companies to help build up their portfolio. Emphasis was also on immigrant founders, as they themselves had come to the U.S. from Kazakhstan.
They began fundraising for the fund in late 2021, which turned out to be a learning process, Karsybaev told TechCrunch.
“Most of the LPs we spoke to were C-level technology executives at large companies, and we thought that venture capital and investing into the fund was common knowledge,” he said. “We discovered it was not as mainstream as we thought. We had to scale back and go at it as more of an educational tour of what the venture capital funds and why you want to invest.”
That ended up adding six months to the fundraising timeline. Then the economy shifted in late 2022, and after trying to raise into 2023, the pair decided to settle on the $20 million already committed, Karsybaev said.
Big Sky started investing from the fund in February of this year and writes checks between $250,000 and $500,000 for companies in their earliest stages, including those pre-revenue. It has a portfolio of 12 companies in the areas of cybersecurity, health technology and fintech, including frontline worker software company Clockster, title search company Pippin and private debt investment company Swaypay.
“Health tech is interesting, especially when you apply some of that to the very archaic properties of the U.S. healthcare system,” Karsybaev said. “There’s just a tremendous amount of opportunity to improve that space, including utilizing AI for stroke prediction. Meanwhile, cybersecurity is the next war that is going to happen.”