A portrait of Sopra Steria’s CVC rebuild

Sopra Steria Ventures, the CVC unit of French IT giant Sopra Steria, has been around for half a decade. After a few years, however, the investment programme was not really yielding any tangible results. The structure was not quite there, the strategy was not quite aligned with the corporate leadership wanted, and the focus was too skewed towards M&A rather than venture itself. A change was needed.

To that end, around a year ago Sopra Steria brought in my guest today, Socheat Chhay, to switch things up and set the unit on a new direction.

Turning things around is no walk in the park, though. You need to conceive of an alternate route, convince the higher ups of your vision, smooth over relationships with existing founders and then execute on it all. In this conversation, Chhay told me about how he sees the process of bringing corporate leadership on board with his vision as akin to an adoption curve, complete with early adopters, eventual critical mass and of course latecomers or detractors, and we talked about how he used extensive direct feedback from existing portfolio companies to improve relationships between them, the unit, and the corporate.

We also spoke about the new course the unit is being set on – with a much more VC focused approach and both a top-down and bottom-up approach to evaluating investments, as well as the process of building momentum for the unit, and the importance of seeking as much information and advice possible from your peers when you’re starting out.

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