By: David Zilberman, Principal, Comcast Ventures
On March 30, the acquisition of Comcast Ventures’ portfolio company BelAir Networks by Ericsson was consummated. The acquisition is a prime example of Comcast Ventures’ unique value proposition as a strategically aligned fund with broad commitment to wireless technologies. While BelAir was established and revenue generating in 2005 when Comcast Ventures first invested, customers such as Cablevision, Comcast and Time Warner were not purchasing products. With our support, BelAir secured multi-million dollar contracts that catapulted the company to become a market leading service provider Wi-Fi vendor.
In the wireless domain, Comcast Ventures continues to emphasize new investment opportunities, from hardware to software to services.
But this post is not about Comcast Ventures.
When Bernard Herscovich and Stephen Rayment founded BelAir Networks in 2002, they had two simple, but invaluable ingredients – a kick-ass product idea and Intense Desire.
Bernard and Stephan amassed a world-class technology team that built a wide range of “carrier grade” products on a budget that were faster and cheaper than the competition. Competing and repeatedly beating formidable competitors such as Cisco is a tall task – and a task at which few succeed. The BelAir technology team was just superb – the technical prowess of their engineers is legend-worthy. Simply put, BelAir would not have been successful if they didn’t produce stellar products; products that were purchased by the US Navy, Comcast, Cablevision, AT&T, etc.
But we all know that the best product doesn’t always win the battle: there has to be more.
In the case of BelAir, the “more” was Bernard’s resiliency, determination and Intense Desire.
BelAir was not immune from typical startup challenges and roller coaster times. Adjusting staffing levels to survive tough financial situations was not uncommon. But as market requirements and carrier budgets wavered, BelAir not only persevered, they prevailed as a market leader in service provider Wi-Fi.
While venture capitalists always look for entrepreneurs that have the tenacity to succeed, Bernard’s level of Intense Desire was unparalleled. And I’m not referring to working long hours and making personal sacrifices, those are entrepreneurial table stakes. As a former entrepreneur, Flarion Technologies (acquired by Qualcomm for $805M), I have a good barometer for CEOs that have the intensity and wherewithal to succeed. Bernard is a case study start-up CEO with unparalleled determination and drive to succeed.
While certainly not referring to BelAir or Bernard Herscovich, Bill Phillips, entrepreneur and fitness instructor, framed it well by saying “The Foundation to Achievement is Intense Desire”.