By our Head of Story, Leah Sarich (December 2020)
2020 was indeed a year like no other. We grew our company, along with a few others, all during a global pandemic. By investing in and nurturing numerous future-fit ventures, we're well on our way to #BuildingWhatsNext for the Prairies.
In January, in the middle of a stinging cold snap, we officially launched Thin Air Labs at an event at The Grand in downtown Calgary. We were delighted and inspired as hundreds braved the cold to hear what we were planning for Calgary and beyond.
Read more here.
We added several unlike minds to our organization this year, culminating in the additions of Chief Operating Officer Rick Bird and Chief Growth Officer Mitchell Gillespie in the fall. Read more here about their backgrounds and plans for the innovation ecosystem.
OUR NEW HOME
Also this year, we took over the second floor of the Corner Block building in the Beltline neighbourhood to be the HQ for Thin Air Labs. Many thanks to housebrand who designed the office. We have big aspirations for this space as a location for future programming, venture workspaces and a production studio.
In September, Jim joined SAIT’s brand new School for Advanced Digital Technology as their Chief Catalyst. Jim taking this role enhances Thin Air Labs' commitment to talent development. Read more about Jim’s plans.
At the end of October, we held our inaugural Investor Event, “Investing in What’s Next,” where we announced the launch of the Thin Air Fund 1. Our team worked with Maven Media Group to hold a successful virtual event that turned our office into a TV studio! Watch a recording of the event.
With the launch of the Thin Air Fund 1, we are actively raising $300M, with a minimum of $100M. Watch Managing/Capital Partner James Lochrie introduce the Fund. These investments will help us support early stage ventures that generate both return and impact on investment. We envision hundreds of these ventures as the future for the Prairies and beyond.
DESIGNING WHAT'S NEXT
One of the ways we ensure these early stage ventures succeed is by supporting them with meaningful design expertise. This year our design team supported both new and growing ventures including FABhome, PwrSwitch, Kaizen, ZoeInsights and Athennian. Thin Air Labs' design team also works with established organizations to help them better meet the demands of the future. For example, just before COVID struck, Thin Air Labs started a project with Westjet by winning a Hackathon focused on a redesign of baggage handling processes. We also worked with cutting-edge engineering firm, Entuitive, and supported the start of the programming redesign for TELUS Spark. Further, as part of our commitment to the health of the ecosystem, we were able to link some of these different organizations to work with each other on significant projects in our community.
Despite the pandemic, our current portfolio companies had a terrific year with some very successful raises.
In the Spring, Symend closed a $73M Series B round, one of the largest in Alberta history. Read more.
In September, Athennian announced a $10M raise. Read more
And Orpyx announced a $7.6M Series A round in July. Read more
IN OTHER PORTFOLIO NEWS
FABhome received national media coverage for their smart homes for seniors that help fill a gap in the long term care system.
Orpyx signed a $60M contract with AHS to supply more than 40 million medical masks over the next 2 years.
Stellaralgo signed a deal with the New York Yankees!
Thin Air Labs’ portfolio companies also did well at the Start Alberta Tech Awards in November. Symend won Tech Deal of the Year, and Co-Founder Tiffany Kaminsky, won the first Women in Tech award. Athennian won the Fast Growth Award (Under $5M) and Provision took home the A100 One to Watch award. For a list of all the winners read this article.
2020 has been an incredible year of growth for Thin Air Labs and we’re just getting started. We want to thank you for your curiosity and passion for #BuildingWhatsNext with us. We look forward to connecting in 2021!
From our family to you and yours, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season,
The Thin Air Labs Team.