American venture capital (VC) firm Flying Fish Partners has appointed former Startup Edmonton CEO Tiffany Linke-Boyko as its principal in charge of the firm’s Canadian operations. This appointment represents Flying Fish marking Alberta as its home base in the country.
“We find that we see deal flow from across the [United States] and Canada, but there’s no substitute for boots on the ground when you find a great well of talent.”
– Heather Redman
Along with Linke-Boyko’s addition, Flying Fish announced that it also secured $7.5 million USD from the Government of Alberta through Alberta Enterprise Corporation (AEC). The investment is part of Flying Fish’s second fund, which the firm announced the close of last week with a total raise of $70 million.
Founded in 2016, Seattle-based Flying Fish makes seed-stage investments in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), Internet-of-Things (IoT), cloud computing, as well as speech and natural language tech startups.
Flying Fish launched its first fund in 2018, closing an initial $23 million of its targeted $80 million, according to TechCrunch. A spokesperson for Flying Fish told BetaKit that the firm ended up raising just $37 million in total for the first fund, with its final close in 2019.
Flying Fish’s spokesperson also told BetaKit that the firm has had a focus on British Columbia since its first fund, with the province being part of its broader Cascadia region.
“Flying Fish has always invested in great AI startups across North America and we’ll continue to do so,” the spokesperson said. “It is likely that [Linke-Boyko] will help with greater sourcing and managing of deals in Canada over time.”
Flying Fish’s Canadian focus has grown over the years, though. In its first fund, Flying Fish invested in Seattle-based industrial solutions startup Phaidra AI. Flying Fish’s spokesperson noted that Phaidra’s team members came from DeepMind, which got its start from Edmonton.
When looking for a Canadian operation base, Flying Fish co-founder and managing director Frank Chang said the VC firm was impressed with Alberta’s deep history of AI and ML research in the province.
“Given what we uncovered, it made sense to base our Canadian operations in Alberta,” Chang added.
Prior to Linke-Boyko’s appointment, Flying Fish also joined the Venture Capital Association of Alberta in March as a way to integrate more tightly integrate into the Alberta ecosystem, according to the firm.
With its $7.5 million investment into Flying Fish, provincial government-backed AEC said it expects to help provide Alberta’s startups with the capital they need to accelerate their growth and compete on a global scale.
Linke-Boyko joins Flying Fish with a nine year tenure at Startup Edmonton. She first joined Startup Edmonton as director of operations in January 2011, then departed as chief executive officer by the end of 2019. Most recently, Linke-Boyko worked as the president of We Know Training, an Edmonton-based online training solutions provider.
“The newest addition to our team, Tiffany Linke-Boyko, has built a strong network in Canada, and more specifically Alberta, that we believe will be instrumental in growing our portfolio,” said Heather Redman, a Flying Fish co-founder. “As a result of our early entry into the sector, we find that we see deal flow from across the [United States] and Canada, but there’s no substitute for boots on the ground when you find a great well of talent.”
The VC firm noted that it has already made 10 investments in Fund II. Earlier this year, Flying Fish co-led Saint John, New Brunswick-based TrojAI’s $3 million seed funding with the Atlantic Canada VC fund Build Ventures.
Other Canadian companies in Flying Fish’s portfolio are Kitchener-based Fairly; and Vancouver companies Variational AI, Apera, and Finn AI. Flying Fish co-led Finn AI’s $14 million Series A round in 2018 with Yaletown Partners.