Jeanne Bayless has resigned as head of Innovation Catalyst, a nonprofit that provides capital and services to fledgling tech companies across Louisiana.
Officials said Bayless stepped down as chief executive officer so she can return to her hometown of Dallas for personal reasons.
“We are grateful to Jeanne for growing Innovation Catalyst from its own startup phase and positioning our organization to thrive,” said Nanette Noland, chair of Innovation Catalyst. “We wish her well as she returns home to take care of her family’s business.”
Innovation Catalyst will conduct a search to replace Bayless.
Under her leadership, Innovation Catalyst has invested in four young companies, including Dinner Lab and MasteryPrep.
Dinner Lab is a social dining club that gives chefs a chance to try out new dishes while offering members access to unique “pop-up” restaurants. The New Orleans-based company was founded about three years ago to allow emerging chefs to get feedback on which meals work and which don’t. Dinner Labs operate in about 30 cities, including New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Houston and Portland, Oregon.
MasteryPrep, a Baton Rouge-based online education company, recently secured $3.6 million in financing from private donors to continue developing its ACT college readiness tests and expand into new markets.
Bayless was hired in late 2013 to serve as CEO of Step One Ventures. In early 2014, Step One became Innovation Catalyst, serving as the startup investment arm of the Research Park Corp. The Research Park Corp. is a nonprofit that oversees operations of the Louisiana Technology Park on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge.
At the time of her hiring, Bayless was the managing partner of the U.S. office of STAR Ventures, an international venture capital fund with $1 billion under management. Bayless had an extensive background in working with investors and as an entrepreneur.
Bayless was previously director of strategic investments for Intel Capital, managing investments in support of the computer giant’s goals.
In the early 1990s, she was the founder, CEO and president of AnswerSoft, a startup that developed software for call centers. Bayless sold that business to Davox Corp. for $80 million and stayed on as vice president of marketing. She then became vice president of marketing for NetBoost Corp., a startup that accelerated network applications. NetBoost was purchased by Intel in 1999 for $225 million, which led Bayless to work for Intel Capital.