New Food & Tech Incubator Launches in New Orleans

Valmiki 504

Valmiki 504 has launched a new incubator of branded foods and food technology in New Orleans. Ceres 504, named after the Roman goddess of food, will be led by Neil Gibbons, serial entrepreneur and Board Chair Emeritus of local incubator Propeller.


NEW ORLEANS, LA & NEW YORK, NY. August 24th 2016 —Today Valmiki 504 LLC, a New Orleans-based venture capital firm, announced it has launched Ceres 504, a new business incubator of branded foods and food technology. Named after the Roman goddess of food, Ceres 504 will be led by Neil Gibbons, a leader in the Louisiana startup ecosystem and a Board Member and Chair Emeritus of Propeller. The newest addition to Valmiki’s worldwide network of industry incubators will provide capital and expertise from Valmiki’s global consumer brand partners to help grow and scale companies from Louisiana’s food, food technology and culinary industries.

Peggy Babin, CEO of Valmiki 504 said, “Following last month’s launch of TOPXIGHT LA, our software and cybersecurity startup incubator, we are pleased to announce additional investments in Louisiana businesses through the launch of Ceres 504. 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.”

New Orleans Business Alliance President and CEO Quentin L. Messer, Jr., added, “New Orleans has a worldwide reputation for its food-centric culture. It also boasts a highly entrepreneurial culture. Ceres 504 offers new 21st Century resources for local startups marrying these two historic cultural traits to create more business, hence employment, opportunities in an area of great local passion. We’re excited to congratulate Valmiki on their newest investment in the New Orleans startup ecosystem.”

In addition to providing consumer brand and packaged foods expertise, Ceres 504 will also direct Valmiki’s investments in the food segment. As its first portfolio company, the fund announced that it will be the lead investor in a $1.5 million seed-round for Better Digestive Health Inc. a New Orleans-based functional foods company. Co-founded by Dr. Vivek Huilgol, notable New Orleans gastroenterologist, the company has developed and will market Dr. Viv’s LOFO™ lines of functional food products based on low-FODMAP formulations to help optimize digestive health conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.

“Joining Valmiki 504 gives me a perfect opportunity to continue the work I have been doing for the past decade,” said Gibbons. “The Louisiana startup ecosystem, which has mostly been incubated by philanthropic and tax-credit-based funding until now, is ready to take the next important step into private venture capital, and Valmiki 504 is a huge part of that effort. 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 for early-stage entrepreneurs, all within the business incubator environment.”

Neil Gibbons began his career in consumer brand management and international marketing with S.C. Johnson, Inc. and RJR Nabisco. His experience spans senior executive positions in the consumer, financial services and technology industries. He also brings experience as a highly successful entrepreneur, having co-founded a venture-backed online trading and real-time analytics technology business for banks and brokerages, and taking it public with exchange listings in the U.S. and Europe. In recent years Gibbons has worked as an interim executive and business coach advising several turnaround situations, notably serving as Executive Director of the Henley Business School in the U.K. while executing a successful reorganization of their flagship MBA and DBA programs and restructuring their international operations. He holds an MBA with Distinction from IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland and serves on the boards of several non-profits in New Orleans.

Valmiki 504 LLC is a New Orleans-based venture capital firm which recently launched two venture funds serving the Louisiana startup ecosystem and local investors. It is a subsidiary of Valmiki Capital Management LP, a New York-based asset management company which invests in industry verticals through partnerships with industry incubators/accelerators. Valmiki’s current investments are run through incubators in enterprise software, consumer brands/personal care, wearables/IoT and energy efficiency/renewable energy. Valmiki 504 and its funds are bringing this global expertise to work together with local Louisiana startups and university technology spin-outs to develop businesses with global scale and reach.

For further information please contact Neil Gibbons at (504-335-2563) or Peggy Babin at (504-335-1941).

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1250 Poydras St., Suite 2150
New Orleans, LA 70113 | 504.934.4500