26 – 100 in alphabetical order by company: Sanjiv Parikh, managing partner, and Steve Bernardez, partner, Avanta Ventures

Sanjiv Parikh is managing partner for Avanta Ventures, the corporate venturing subsidiary of US-based insurer CSAA Insurance, where he oversees venture capital deals, startup incubation and acceleration initiatives, and corporate development with partner Steve Bernardez.

Parikh helped CSAA launch the unit in 2017 and defined its areas of focus on insurance and financial technologies, advanced mobility and adjacent fields involving risk management and customer experience.

In March 2019, Bernardez joined the unit after almost 13 years at venture capital firm Onset Ventures to help Avanta Ventures identify opportunities in verticals including mobility and insurtech, applying artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT) and distributed ledger technologies.

Avanta Ventures represents CSAA, an American Automobile Association (AAA) insurance company which counts 53 million members, and helps the parent firm to navigate the innovation ecosystem in a bid to devise products and services for the wider AAA system.

Since it was formed four years ago, Avanta Ventures exited dashcam developer Owl Cameras (Owlcam), which was purchased by IoT hardware producer Xirgo Technologies in March 2020, with the unit having participated in its $18m series A funding two years prior.

Its portfolio companies include smart lending technology developer LoanSnap, cyber insurance provider Cowbell Cyber, emergency response technology developer RapidSOS, geospatial property data supplier Cape Analytics, automotive commerce technology Car IQ, insurance technology developer Kin Insurance and apartment sharing app Room8.

Customised travel insurance tool Pablow, AI-driven property and casualty insurance claims process facilitator InsurAnalytics, hospitality app You’re Welcome and Ottometric, an automotive supply chain-focused analytics provider, also received Avanta’s backing.

The unit, along with a score of organisations, partnered design consultancy Ideo’s corporate venturing arm, Ideo CoLab Ventures, in July 2019 to launch the Startup Studio scheme which targets blockchain technology startups.

Parikh came from more than 25 years of innovation growth for corporations including telecommunications firm SK Telecom, networking system supplier Ciena, IT infrastructure software supplier Sentilla, consumer electronics producer HTC and enterprise technology producer Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

Prior to joining CSAA and founding Avanta Ventures in 2017, Parikh conducted strategic investments, mergers and acquisitions, business development and partnerships vice-president (VP) of business and corporate development on behalf of SK Telecom in the Americas, in areas such as cloud infrastructure, IoT, media and analytics. He helped SK develop a cloud-based TV product with 17 million subscribers and sat on the boards of multiple startups and VC firms.

His corporate venturing career started at software producer Microsoft, where Parikh was one of the earliest members of Microsoft Ventures – which would later become M12 – before joining Hewlett Packard as CVC managing director and eventually moving to a similar role at HTC, where he was VP of investments and corporate development.

Bernardez meanwhile served as a partner at Onset Ventures before Avanta Ventures, where he focused on business-to-business software in the enterprise software-as-a-service application, artificial intelligence and analytics and cybersecurity areas.

He joined Onset Ventures after nearly five years at Microsoft, where he helped drive innovation by building relationships with the VC community and venture-backed software startups. Before that, Bernardez led business development at e-commerce search startup Mercado Software (acquired by Omniture) and was a strategy consultant at professional services firm Accenture.

Edison Fu

Edison Fu is a reporter and Asia liaison at Global Corporate Venturing.