Advisory Board

Eric Di Benedetto, MBA

Eric Di Benedetto, MBA has been a professional investor in software startups in Silicon Valley for the last two decades.
The aggregate market capitalization of companies he sponsored as an angel investor or venture capitalist reached several billion dollars at the time his investments were realized. He was profiled in Business Week (“Go West, Young Whiz”), in The European (“Where the Brains Drain”), and in The Red Herring (Growing Wings).
After a successful career as a venture capitalist, Eric established Active Starts as an angel investment firm focused on the coaching and financing needs of San Francisco Bay Area software entrepreneurs within a year from product launch. Active Starts leads or participates in investment syndicates whose mission is to bridge startup companies to market validation. Once a market opportunity has been proven, more traditional venture capital firms usually follow in subsequent rounds of financing.
The Active Starts portfolio is invested in two sectors, the social web and on-demand applications. Eric’s goal is to help build several category-defining companies which will keep creating substantial shareholder value in the long run and become world leaders in their respective fields as “platform companies”. Some portfolio companies already have proven they are capable of reaching this star status as demonstrated by their ability to win numerous industry awards.
ClairMail won the 2006 Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) Codie Award for Software Newcomer of the Year, the Red Herring 100 Award and the Red Herring 100 Global Award. Clickability won the 2008 SIIA Codie Award for Best Content Management Solution and several of its executives have now joined the Executive Council Boards of the SIIA. RealTravel won the 2007 Atlas Award for the Best Online Travel Community and many other industry awards. LendingClub won the 2008 Webby Award for best banking site in the US while it was in registration with the SEC to become the first social lending platform regulated by the SEC. And Xactly was named the World’s Best New Company in 2008 by International Business Awards after being the first company ever to win the Nation’s Best New Company Award by American Business Awards two years in a row in 2007 and 2008.
Currently, the financial services industry is of specific interest to Active Starts as it is undergoing a process of creative destruction providing a very fertile environment for innovation brought from the outside (Schumpeter’s theory). ClairMail, LendingClub, Plastyc and RapLeaf are examples of companies backed by Active Starts to either serve constituencies neglected by incumbent financial service providers (Plastyc payment-enables the 13–25 demographic), increase credit market efficiencies (LendingClub), provide better insights on customers (RapLeaf), or execute on a strategic imperative (ClairMail brings mobility to banking and payments).
In the near future, the application of algorithms to a cloud computing architecture is expected to present investors with compelling opportunities to bring additional levels of optimization to various segments of the financial services industry. Eric sits on the boards of directors of Clickability, IdeaBlade, Plastyc, RapLeaf, and RateItAll.
Before cofounding Convergence Partners, a Silicon Valley based information technology venture capital firm, in 1997, Eric was the managing director of US venture capital funds managed by BANEXI, the merchant banking arm of BNP (Banque Nationale de Paris, now BNP Paribas), including a joint partnership with Robertson Stephens & Co. Prior to his venture capital career, Eric was a workout and restructuring specialist with the PARGESA/Lambert Brussels Group, and a mergers and acquisitions associate covering defense electronics for Bankers Trust Company (now Deutsche Bank).
Eric earned an MBA degree from ESSEC, Paris, France in 1989, and holds a BA in mathematics and physics.
Read My First Call, Every Time and 3Qs with Eric Di Benedetto of Active Starts. Read his LinkedIn profile.