Benson Hill CEO Matthew Crisp rang the New York Stock Exchange opening bell on Tuesday. The company is now a publicly traded entity, valued at $ 2 billion.
But in its early days, the crop improvement business struggled to keep its lights on, literally. He found the support of a biotechnology accelerator based in Saint-Louis, specializing in the launch of startups. BioSTLthe investment arm, Biogenerator, provided with the emergency funds he needed. Ultimately, BioGenerator funded Benson Hill in four different rounds, totaling $ 775,000.
Charlie Bolten, senior vice president of BioGenerator, was among the St. Louis alongside Crisp earlier this week.
âWhat an incredible time for St. Louis and for everyone who has been a part of this business,â Bolten recalled on Friday. St. Louis on the air. âJust to be there at the center of commerce for the United States and really the world, and see our little St. Louis business – no longer so small, but rapidly growing – there in the center of the stage. building was lit by Benson Hill. Times Square was lit by Benson Hill. What a day. “
Benson Hill, Inc. (NYSE: BHIL) rings the opening bellÂ®
Bolten joined host Sarah Fenske to discuss how he has led BioSTL’s investment and contributed to the growth of Benson Hill since 2013.
As Bolten recalled, Crisp originally planned to start the company he co-founded in North Carolina. But BioGenerator based its investment on moving the company to Saint-Louis.
Related: An Emerging Global Hub for Plant Science – Benson Hill Doubles to St. Louis with New Headquarters
Soon, other local investors also provided capital, including corn growers, St. Louis Arch Angels and Missouri Technology Corp.
Bolten noted that the investment was not without risk.
âIt’s a company that had ideas – that had no data and no facilities, had no staff and needed capital to get started,â he said.
Crisp’s big idea was to develop healthier and more sustainable crops. And Bolten and his team believed in Crisp.
âYou bet on people who have a vision,â he explained. âMatt and the team were so believable: the combination of sales experience and sales leadership with world-class science from the Danforth Center. Not a lot of information other than that vision, but it was compelling for us to start and give them an opportunity. And as they grew, we continued to invest.
BioSTL invested in Benson Hill when it needed the money. Now it’s worth $ 2 billion
Bolten sees huge potential for agricultural tech startups in the region. He said the money BioGenerator would raise by selling its shares in Benson Hill (which a spokesperson estimates will be worth 11 times its initial investment) will be used to find “the next Benson Hill.”
âObviously, St. Louis has an amazing and agtech opportunityâ¦ There are challenges with feeding the world, challenges with insect resistance and challenges with sustainability – technology is the answer to all of these thingsâ, did he declare.
âWe can build these great businesses in St. Louis. St. Louis has more PhDs in plant science than any other city in the world. We have huge intellectual capital here, the start of these big companies [like] the Danforth Center, a legacy of Monsanto, now Bayer. We have an incredible opportunity to be the leader in plant science startups. “
“Saint Louis on the airâBrings you the stories of Saint-Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah fenske and produced by Alex heuer, Emily woodbury, Evie hemphill and Lara hamdan. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The sound engineer is Aaron Doerr.