LA Venture: Why Social Leverage’s Gary Benitt Invests Early

Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
LA Venture: Why Social Leverage’s Gary Benitt Invests Early

Meet Gary Benitt, managing partner at Social Leverage — a venture capital firm that invests in startups ranging from fintech to SaaS.

On this episode of LA Venture, Benitt discusses his role at Social Leverage, the fund's investments in Robinhood and Rally Road, and his approach of investing early and leaning in.


"I want to be a user. And I have intuition that I believe is right. But obviously, it's just one data point for my founders to take and to do with what they want," said Benitt.

Since 2011, Benitt has invested in early-stage companies like Classy, Getaround, Gusto and Gyft. Joining Social Leverage brought Benitt closer to the fintech world. And he credits his partner Howard Lindzon's vision and big personality for earning Social Leverage's reputation.

Before he started working at Social Leverage, Benitt spent 18 years building companies in the customer service and support software space, including startups such as Assistly, where he was the founder and COO.

Benitt's knowledge in sales and support have led him to be willing to invest early on if he believes in the idea. He stresses the importance for founders to be on the frontline selling the product they made.

"If you love everything about the deal, but the price, do the deal anyway. The price shouldn't be the reason for you not to do the deal if everything else is great," he said.

Hear the full episode by clicking on the playhead above, and listen to LA Venture on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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