In 2019, Gayle Benson launched Benson Capital Partners, LLC, her personally owned, for-profit entity to facilitate and jump-start new business formation, workforce expansion, and wealth creation in New Orleans and across the Gulf South.
Today, Benson Capital Partners announces the initial closing of Benson Capital Fund I, LP with more than $50 million raised, representing the largest venture capital fund ever created in this region. Joining Gayle Benson in Fund I are other successful entrepreneurs and executives with strong ties to New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as well as corporate leaders that include Entergy Corporation, Raising Cane's, and others. Jones Walker, LLP served as fund formation counsel to Fund I.
"My late husband Tom was an entrepreneur. He built his business and his legacy from the ground floor, and, with a focused vision, believed strongly in stimulating our local economy, creating new businesses, and rehabilitating old ones back into commerce," said Benson. "While there remains limited investment capital in the Gulf South, we felt it was important that we try to fill that troublesome gap and support the next generation of great entrepreneurs. It is important that we continue to be a catalyst promoting economic development for our region. This is just the first step."
Through Gayle Benson's leadership, Benson Capital Partners has been working to identify a pipeline of fast-growing, scalable companies in an effort to foster entrepreneurship, spur innovation, and promote job growth in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region.
Mike Katz and Caroline Crumley will be responsible for the day-to-day operations and investment activities of Fund I. Katz spent the first half of his career as a venture capitalist in San Francisco and New York at firms like Battery Ventures and Greycroft before helping start the U.S. investing practices for both Alibaba Group and Naspers. Crumley spent the first 5 years of her career in New York at Citigroup on the Industrial Corporate & Investment Banking team.
"Mrs. Benson understands that investment capital is limited and largely inaccessible across much of the Gulf South. Her vision to create a coalition of like-minded investors will enable important dollars to get to the most promising startups for the first time," said Katz. "This new fund targets high-growth opportunities and follows the ethos of Tom Benson in that the derivatives of successful investments will generate new jobs and increased economic development."
Leo Denault, Chairman and CEO of Entergy Corporation said, "Entergy is pleased to join forces with Gayle Benson and Benson Capital Partners to help stimulate entrepreneurship. Investing in Benson Capital Partners' first fund is a strategic complement to Entergy's overall innovation efforts, which include utility investments in our New Orleans-based innovation center, KeyString Labs."
Todd Graves, Founder and Co-CEO of Raising Cane's said, "This type of dedicated capital source didn't exist regionally when I started my business. I am excited Raising Cane's is investing in Benson Capital Fund I to pay it forward by helping the next generation of entrepreneurs. Gayle and Tom Benson have always been leaders in the area of economic impact. This is great for our region."
For any inquires relative to Benson Capital Partners, please contact hello@bensonCP.com.
For media inquiries relative to Benson Capital Partners, please contact Jordy Spitale at (504) 615-8820 or by email at jordy@bensonCP.com.