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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Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors

David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

Energy Shares Gears Up To Bring Equity Crowdfunding to Retail Investors
Photo by Red Zeppelin on Unsplash

The Inflation Reduction Act contains almost $400 billion in funding for clean energy initiatives. There’s $250 billion for energy projects. $23 billion for transportation and EVs. $46 billion for environment. $21 billion for agriculture, and so on. With so much cash flowing into the sector, the possibilities for investment and growth are gigantic.

These investment opportunities, however, have typically been inaccessible for everyday retail investors until much later in a company’s development–after an IPO, usually. Meaning that the best returns are likely to be captured by banks and other institutions who have the capital and financing to invest large sums of money earlier in the process.

That’s where Pasadena-based Energy Shares comes in. The company wants to help democratize access to these investment opportunities and simultaneously give early-stage utility-scale energy projects another revenue stream.

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How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success

Aisha Counts
Aisha Counts is a business reporter covering the technology industry. She has written extensively about tech giants, emerging technologies, startups and venture capital. Before becoming a journalist she spent several years as a management consultant at Ernst & Young.
How These Ukranian Entrepreneurs Relocated Their Startups to LA and Found Success
Joey Mota

Fleeing war and chasing new opportunities, more than a dozen Ukrainian entrepreneurs have landed in Los Angeles, finding an unexpected community in the city of dreams. These entrepreneurs have started companies that are collectively worth more than $300 million, in industries ranging from electric vehicle charging stations to audience monetization platforms to social networks.

Dot.LA spent an evening with this group of Ukrainian citizens, learning what it was like to build startups in Ukraine, to cope with the unimaginable fear of fleeing war, and to garner the resilience to rebuild.

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