Founder & Managing Director
Benhamou Global Ventures (BGV)
THEY ARE INNOVATION #1
To inaugurate “They are Innovation”, we are pleased to present Eric Benhamou, the Founder and Managing Director of a VC firm branded in his own name Benhamou Global Ventures (BGV) based in Silicon Valley. Eric sports an impressive track record in building tech businesses since co-founding his first company specialized in computer networks, Bridge Communications.
Despite starting at the age of 25, he would go on to realize his first successful exit 6 years later. He then headed 3Com for 10 years closing no fewer than 30 acquisition deals of other technology companies to become a Fortune 500 company. It was also at this time that Eric nurtured the internal start-up Palm Computing, and funded the development of what became the most successful handheld computer of the decade, the Palm Pilot.
Benhamou Global Ventures
First of all, BGV is an early-stage VC firm running its 4th round of $150 million as of October 2020. Everyone at Benhamou Global Ventures firmly believes that innovation and smart people are distributed around the planet. Even the partners themselves are immigrants and have cross-border experience. Despite heading operations in Silicon Valley, BGV is a truly global VC firm with active operations in Paris, Tel Aviv and Bangalore.
Incidentally, being far away from Silicon Valley is a strong advantage particularly to meet local talent. Early-stage companies with a first product that catches the interest of a few customers with technology that works should definitely consider BGV as a partner. The passion for BGV and the businesses they invest in can count on them to work together from beginning to exit.
For Eric Benhamou, the pandemic provides fertile ground for new highly disruptive companies in the years to come. Where will they come from in the next decade? Eric suggests the potentially dominating force of Enterprise 4.0 start-up companies.
Enterprise 4.0, as the central theme of a firm, will be a disruptive force in the next ten years. Within Enterprise 4.0, AI and Machine Learning will play a central role. In a world full on information and a low cost of operating sensors, the job of Enterprise 4.0 is to process this information and transform it into insights useful for disrupting businesses.
Enterprise 4.0 concepts will disrupt all vertical sectors sooner or later.
Every single vertical sector will be disrupted at some point by Enterprise 4.0 concept, but what does disruption actually mean? Disruption means a fundamental change in business economics, business models or value created by a start-up. Fundamental here refers to orders of magnitude that have gained in value, not incremental improvements.
Even if value is relative to each industry, harnessing the power of AI will enable companies to achieve disruption. For BGV, the success formula to succeed in disrupting their vertical sector have to provide a full solution combining deep knowledge on the sector they are focusing on and a “Fundamental Mass Rate of AI Technology”.
Eric stresses that these two concepts need to be packaged into a full solution, not just components. A component by itself doesn’t do anything for the customer; it has to be integrated with other pieces to make a full solution. Enterprise 4.0 companies are by nature solutions-orientated. These solutions can be deployed and produce an impact in the short term in as little as a matter of weeks or days.
This mix of short-term effects and a high magnitude of disruption are what create interesting companies that generate venture returns.
“I am an entrepreneur, things are not working well and I am beginning to lose hope”…
These words resonate with Eric who confessed he too had to overcome great challenges while running his own business. Indeed, taking his second company public during the Second Oil Crisis provided a real challenge for a global economy plunged into turmoil.
His remedy was a combination of persistence and a strong team which contributed to helping him break through.
In a very positive end to his keynote speech, Eric reminds all entrepreneurs that some of the best companies were born in the height of a crisis. True entrepreneurs are those that stand up in the face of adversity.
The Covid-19 pandemic will extract the best out entrepreneurs and force them to build even better companies than before.