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July 27, 2016

Valmiki 504 Launches New Orleans based technology incubator

NEW ORLEANS – Today Valmiki 504 LLC a New Orleans based venture capital firm, announced a joint venture with TOPXIGHT LABS a New York based technology startup studio, to bring TOPXIGHT’s product development and company incubation expertise to the New Orleans tech startup ecosystem. The joint venture will be called TOPXIGHT LA and will be led by its newly appointed Managing Director, Dr. Arun Lakhotia a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette.

A part of Valmiki Capital’s network of global industry incubators, TOPXIGHT LABS is a New York based software lab with proprietary IP in immersive data visualization, active learning spaces and indie-commerce. In the past year, TOPXIGHT’s newly launched startups include companies in fintech (ALPHABETA – www.alphabeta.io) and music technology (Manoke – www.manoke.com).  Under Dr. Lakhotia TOPXIGHT LA will add development capabilities in the areas of deep machine learning, cybersecurity and data analytics – it is the stated goal of Valmiki 504 to create such centers of globally competitive excellence in Louisiana.

“The arrival of TOPXIGHT LA introduces an important new asset to our growing entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “As innovation continues to redefine the “new” New Orleans region, the experienced TOPFXIGHT team will help by providing the technical capacity and guidance to transform ideas into marketplace success. We look forward to watching the portfolio of Valmiki Capital experience even greater success with the addition of Dr. Lakhotia.”

Peggy Babin, CEO of Valmiki 504 said, “We are thrilled to announce additional important pieces to Valmiki’s assets in Louisiana which use the fund’s well-established investment process of partnering with development incubators to create innovative IP and nurture emerging companies.  Dr. Lakhotia is one of the most respected computer scientists in the state and he will be at the forefront of commercialization of such IP from Louisiana.  Valmiki will put at his disposal our wide array of development and capital assets, creating a tremendous amount of value for our portfolio companies and fund investors.  TOPXIGHT was co-founded by a Tulane grad (Kirthi Ramakrishnan, MBA ’96) so we are bringing alums back home to help the community.”

In addition to full stack development expertise, TOPXIGHT LA will also deploy hard assets in support of local startups, starting with a customized but highly scalable data center for the needs of Valmiki portfolio companies, some of who are expected to have highly specific and intensive data requirements.  In addition to his role in running TOPXIGHT LA, Dr. Lakhotia will also act as a Venture Partner at Valmiki 504 and be responsible for evaluating and supporting Valmiki’s technology portfolio in Louisiana. The fund is currently in negotiations for a number of investments and has committed to be the lead investor in the upcoming venture funding round for Cythereal, a Lafayette based cybersecurity company with leading edge products in malware threat detection.

“I decided to join the Valmiki/TOPXIGHT group as it gives me a perfect network to commercialize technologies that I have been working on for two decades, by bringing enterprise business expertise and value-added capital on a global scale to the technology developed locally in Louisiana. There is a tremendous amount of IP available in universities in Louisiana that needs partners with truly global connections to create successful startups. With Valmiki 504, I hope to be an instrumental part of a concerted effort to make that a reality.”

Currently on sabbatical, Dr. Arun Lakhotia is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and the Director of the Software Research Laboratory, with primary research interests in cybersecurity and malware. He is also an expert in the area of machine learning and unmanned vehicles.  He led the development of CajunBot, an unmanned Jeep that was Louisiana’s entry in the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge. He was the 2004 recipient of the Louisiana Governor’s Technology Leader of the Year Award and his research has been extensively funded by DARPA, AFOSR, AFRL, and ARO.

Valmiki 504 LLC is a New Orleans based venture capital firm which recently launched two venture funds for 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 the global expertise of these incubators to work with local Louisiana startups.

“It is very exciting to see the next step in Valmiki’s investment in the New Orleans entrepreneurial community. The more we grow support capacity for entrepreneurs and startup companies, we increase the probability that one will transform both the local entrepreneur community and the non-profit community by creating significant new wealth,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., President & CEO of the New Orleans Business Alliance. “TOPXIGHT LA offers a new layer of deep domain expertise for New Orleans entrepreneurs, particularly those involved in knowledge sector industries that are critical to the diversification of our local economy.”