29 Jan NOLABA News – New York venture capital firm to open New Orleans branch


Valmiki Capital, a New York venture capital firm, is bringing a subsidiary to New Orleans where it plans to invest in local startups.

The offshoot will be known as Valmiki 504. It is launching two venture funds that will invest in Louisiana entrepreneurs. Its founder, Ravi Suria, also wants to link local investors to global opportunities, which he says will serve to further strengthen the capital base for New Orleans’ entrepreneurial scene.

Investors with Valmiki Capital have provided an initial infusion of $5 million for the 504 funds. Suria said a “big chunk” of that has already been invested in six local companies. He would not identify the businesses but said one is a light industrial manufacturer making consumer products. He also plans to announce a number of joint ventures with incubators, universities and business groups.

Valmiki Capital invests in early stage companies with a concentration in consumer goods and technology. Suria said the 504 offshoot will be more diverse.

“Initially there would be a big chunk of technology, we hope to do something more in … the creative industries and maybe something in the industrials,” he said.

A strong Tulane University current runs through Valmiki 504’s leadership and investors. Suria, who earned his MBA there, has hired Peggy Babin as its president and CEO. She was most recently associate dean of Tulane’s A.B. Freeman School of Business and will lead day-to-day operations in New Orleans, helping forge ties among investors, startups and the local entrepreneurial community.

James McFarland, former Tulane business school dean, is also on Valmiki 504’s board of directors. Alumnus Eric Handler and Motez Bishara have invested in the 504 funds and will serve on their advisory boards.

Suria founded Valmiki Capital in 2008 after having worked in investment research and management. He was an analyst with Paine Webber and Lehman Brothers, and a portfolio manager with Duquesne Capital and Moore Capital Management.

Babin, who also graduated from Tulane, has a background in marketing and sales. She worked with Louisiana Land and Exploration Co. before joining the Freeman administration.

The Valmiki 504 office is expected to open in February.