December 6, 2023

early stage venture capital firm Datian Capitalwith operations in Miami, Kazakhstan and Singapore, today announced a capital commitment of $20 million for its first fund.

The company was founded by Jahn Karsybaev and Adil Nurgozhin, who worked in corporate IT and venture capital respectively, and met while at the University of Montana, which is where the company name came from. Before founding Big Sky Capital, they co-founded five startups, some of which failed and one exited.

After exiting the company, they started angel investing, writing small checks primarily to enterprise SaaS companies to help build their portfolio. The focus is also on immigrant founders, since they themselves came to the United States from Kazakhstan.

Karsybaev told TechCrunch they started raising money for the fund in late 2021, and it turned out to be a learning process.

“Most of the LPs we interviewed were C-level technology executives at large companies, and we think VCs and investment funds are common sense,” he said. “We found that it wasn’t as mainstream as we thought it would be. We had to scale it back and think of it more as an educational trip to understand where VC money comes from and why you should invest.”

This ended up adding six months to the fundraising timeline. The economy then shifted in late 2022, Karsybaev said, and after trying to raise funds through 2023, the pair decided to settle with the $20 million they had already committed.

Big Sky began investing with the fund in February, writing checks of $250,000 to $500,000 for companies in the early stages, including those that haven’t yet realized revenue. It has a portfolio of 12 companies in cybersecurity, health tech and fintech, including frontline worker software company Clockster, property rights search company Pippin and private debt investment firm Swaypay.

“Health technology is interesting, especially when you apply some of it to the very ancient nature of the American healthcare system,” Kasibayev said. “There are massive opportunities to improve the field, including the use of artificial intelligence for stroke prediction. In the meantime, cybersecurity is the next war on the horizon.”