Galena Capital offers investment bank option to Idaho startups

Original story authored by Sharon Fisher on Idaho Business Review on November 4, 2019.

A new local investment bank is aiming to “repeat an Austin or a Boulder or a Salt Lake” in Boise.

Galena Capital is helping raise money for StageDotO Ventures, housed in Boise in a historic home. Photo courtesy of State Historic Preservation Office

Galena Capital, which started in Boise in April, is yet another type of the capital companies that seem to have been flocking to Boise in recent months.

Bill Benjamin, managing partner of Galena Capital Partners, and his partner Jerry Sturgill decided that the niche they would fill would be investment banking, and went so far as to register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a government-authorized not-for-profit organization that oversees U.S. broker-dealers. Organizations that sell securities and do mergers and acquisitions are supposed to be FINRA members, Benjamin said.

That required 10 months of working through the federal regulation process, including more than 1,000 pages of documentation about compliance, supervisory procedures, money laundering and interviews. The company was made a member in February.

Bill Benjamin

“Jerry and I said, ‘Let’s be the first and only FINRA-registered investment bank in Idaho,’” Benjamin said.

Different investments

Consequently, the sort of investments that Galena Capital makes are a little different from those of other capital management companies in Idaho. The company has four specialties: Raising capital – not seed funding, mergers and acquisitions, strategic advice and restructuring, Benjamin told attendees at a panel on regional and industry advantages in Idaho during Boise Startup Week.

Galena Capital is currently engaged with three companies to raise money, Benjamin said. One is Melt Organic, a Boise plant-based B Corporation food company that currently has three butter products and is planning to expand into plant-based cheeses, pepperoni and snack packs, he said. The company hired a new CEO in April 2018, hired a new leadership team and has had four record sales quarters in a row since then, he said.

The second is StageDotO Ventures, for which Galena Capital is a placement agent, Benjamin said. StageDotO, also based in Boise, is raising $50 million to invest in Boise startups and has made its first $1 million investment with PlexTrac Inc., an Eagle-based security company.

“PlexTrac could be a really big company,” Benjamin said. “They could be the de facto standard that helps a lot of companies be more efficient in cybersecurity.”

The third is an energy company out of Oregon, which develops software that helps small- to medium sized businesses establish automation around saving energy by monitoring energy useage. Benjamin also couldn’t name this firm.

Galena Capital is talking with a number of other companies about mergers and acquisitions, Benjamin added.

“The sweet spot for us is $5 million to $75 million in sales,” though they’ll consider bigger deals. But they’re interested in private placements, not public offerings, he said.

Boise: the next Austin?

Why Boise? After a lifetime of living in Minneapolis and commuting on a weekly basis to full-time jobs in California and the New York metropolitan area, Benjamin was looking for a place to call home, and Boise had advantages.

“It seems like a fast-growing city,” he said.

The region is also well-stocked with Baby Boomers whose wealth is in their business and are coming to a point of wanting to retire.

“People want to liberate that wealth,” Benjamin said.

In addition, there’s been an influx of knowledge workers to the state, as well as an increasing number of engineers and computer scientists graduating from the region’s universities, along with other components of a startup ecosystem. “There’s Trailhead, Boise State Venture College and mentors all over the place,” he said. “That’s helping drive healthy growth and innovation.”

Benjamin said he felt that while walking around Trailmix, the food production arm of Boise Startup Week. “Not only are they creating innovative products, but they’re really good people,” he said. “That’s the fun of this job: People with a huge passion about something meaningful in the life of consumers. We want to help you grow and get you the capital you need to get to this next level.”

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Contact Us

Galena Capital Partners Inc.
800 West Main Street, Suite 1460
Boise, Idaho 83702
(208) 853-5200

Jerry Sturgill
jerry@galenacapital.com

Bill Benjamin
bill@galenacapital.com

Juan Carlos Duque
jc@galenacapital.com

Jeff Anthony 
jeff@galenacapital.com

Juan Carlos Duque

Managing Director

Juan Carlos has held diverse executive roles in various industries during his 25+ year career:

  • Chief Executive Officer. Former CEO of Gina Cucina, a Colorado-based food CPG startup, and former
    President of Atlantica Hotels, the largest privately held hotel management company in South America, based
    in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
  • Family office investor. Former Vice President of The Pritzker Organization, a large family office, based in
    Chicago, Illinois.
  • Private equity investor. Former investment team member of Darby Emerging Markets Fund, the first dedicated Latin America private equity fund, based in Washington, D.C.

Juan Carlos’s community service in Boise includes serving as past vice chair of the board of trustees and chair of the search committee for Riverstone International School. He is also a past trustee of North Shore Congregation Israel in Chicago. Juan Carlos holds a BSE from Wharton (University of Pennsylvania) and pursued a doctoral program in finance at Fuqua (Duke University). He lives with his family in Boise, where he enjoys snowboarding, reading history and science fiction, and hiking in the Boise foothills with his dogs.

Bill Benjamin

Managing Partner

Bill’s professional experience includes holding prominent leadership positions within both large and small companies, as well as serving on various industry and community boards:

  • Investment banker. Former Managing Director in the technology investment banking group at Piper Jaffray.
  • Wealth management. Former Managing Director and member of the Private Client Group Operating Committee at Piper Jaffray, Minneapolis. Head of Branch Strategic Development at UBS.
  • Chief Executive Officer. Former CEO of US Bancorp Investments, the Broker-Dealer and RIA of US Bank, and of Covr Financial Technologies, an InsureTech company.

Bill’s involvement on industry and community boards includes past vice chair of the Insured Retirement Institute, as well as past member of the ABASA board and the SIFMA Private Client Committee, Washington, D.C. He is also the former president of the Edina Baseball Association. Bill has an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Economics from St. Olaf College and an MBA from the Carlson School (University of Minnesota). He enjoys the outdoors as an avid cyclist, skier, backpacker, and wildlife photographer.

Jerry Sturgill

Managing Partner

Jerry’s professional experience includes having been a business owner, a chief executive officer, an investor, an investment banker, and a Wall Street corporate attorney:

  • Investment banker. Managing Director of Capstone Headwaters, one of the leading middle-market investment banks headquartered in the United States, and co-founder of Outlook Capital Corporation, a registered investment bank.
  • Lawyer. Former corporate partner of Latham & Watkins, New York City, and Stoel Rives LLP, Boise, Idaho.
  • Chief Executive Officer. Former CEO of a regional security company with operations in ten Western states.

Jerry is the former board chair of the Riverstone International School, board member of the Idaho Conservation League, and board member of the Interfaith Sanctuary, one of the principal homeless shelters in Idaho. In 2016, Jerry was nominated to run for the United States Senate. He is also an avid outdoorsman, as a former licensed whitewater guide on the legendary Idaho Middle Fork, Main Salmon and Selway rivers, a skier, and a cyclist. Jerry earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Brigham Young University.

Jeff Anthony

Managing Director

Jeff’s professional experience includes extensive work with high growth businesses as co-founder, Chief Executive Officer, investment banker, and institutional investor:

  • Investment Banker.  Founder and former Managing Director of Corporate Finance Resources, a Seattle based middle-market investment bank and co-founder and former Managing Director of MALPAT Capital, a full-service broker/dealer and investment bank in Stamford, Connecticut.
  • Chief Executive Officer.  Co-founder and former CEO of SAFLINK Corporation, a publicly traded network security software company providing biometric identification solutions for government, enterprise, and Internet applications.
  • Fund Manager.  Co-founder and former Managing Director of Mallory Patterson Capital Management, a private equity and hedge fund of funds, and Shinnecock Capital, the Forstmann family office portfolio of value-added investments in high growth public and private companies.

Jeff co-founded and led the Washington Hunter Jumper Foundation, a 501c3 public charity providing educational programs and scholarships to expand and promote equestrian sport in the Northwest.  An avid outdoorsman, Jeff and his wife enjoy hiking, boating, golfing, and living the Idaho lifestyle at their home on Lake Coeur D’Alene.  Jeff earned his undergraduate degree from Vassar College.