The top 50: 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.

Bernardez joined Avanta Ventures in 2019 after almost 13 years at venture capital firm Onset Ventures. His role involves helping the unit identify opportunities in verticals ranging from mobility, insurtech and artificial intelligence (AI) to the internet of things (IoT) and distributed ledger technologies.

Over the course of the past year, Avanta Ventures has invested in Motorq, which has developed a communication platform for the automotive industry, title insurance specialist Blueprint Title, and Delos, an insurer for property owners in high-risk regions.

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.

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.