New York VC firm Valmiki Capital has launched a new incubator in Louisiana’s New Orleans, targeting food startups across the state.
Named Ceres 504, the incubator will support local businesses and serve as a supply line to a local investment fund, Valmiki 504. It will also provide expertise and coaching for food startups.
In a press statement, Valmiki 504 said Ceres 504 – named after the Roman goddess go agriculture – would “help grow and scale companies from Louisiana’s food, food technology and culinary industries”.
The new enterprise and incubator will be lead by Neil Gibbons, a local entrepreneur and board chair at Propeller, the Washington Avenue incubator for socially minded startups.
Talking in New Orleans City Business, Gibbons said, “Having helped the Propeller Incubator grow and scale for the last six years, I see the evolution to institutional venture funding as the next major growth stage for Louisiana’s entrepreneurial community of innovative startups.
“Ceres 504 is a unique catalyst for Louisiana; it provides a combination of early-stage risk capital with institutional fund management services for local investors coupled with the value-add of management expertise in strategy and operations.”
Important venture capital for growing food scene
New Orleans and Louisiana are famed for their food, particularly creole and cajun influenced cuisines.
The new incubator will direct Valmiki’s investments in the food industry. The fund announced that it will be the lead investor in its first portfolio company, participating in a $1.5m seed-round in Better Digestive Health Inc., a New Orleans-based functional foods company co-founded by New Orleans gastroenterologist Vivek Huilgol.
Better Digestive Health has developed and will market lines of functional food products based on formulations to help digestive health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Gibbons was joined by Valmiki CEO Peggy Babin, who commented on the central role that food played to Louisiana’s business development.
Babin said, “Food is central to Louisiana’s culture and business environment, and creating truly scalable food brands is important to the long-term economic growth of the industry.
“Scalability and growth are integral to Valmiki’s pioneering approach in combining its investment expertise with the operating assets of its incubators.”