SGH Capital: a holding company with some flair


Thanks to some smart choices, the holding company founded by Alexandre Azoulay a little over 4 years ago has seen enormous success last year, after posting stellar Q4 results.

SGH Capital, the holding company overseen by Alexandre Azoulay and his three partners, has gone from strength to strength. Once affiliated with Wijet – an air taxi company – Azoulay has deftly led his investment fund through choppy waters and launched multiple tech projects. With a keen sense of foresight, SGH Capital has strengthened its market position.

One example of these is SGH Capital’s support for Wynd, a food tech start-up that lets restaurants manage their orders and logistics through a digital interface. The start-up’s one-of-a-kind platform coordinates online and offline sales, inventory, and employee activity. SGH Capital got in on the ground floor and provided Wynd’s initial seed funding. In the start-up funding cycle, seed money is pivotal and helps a company test its product while the client pipeline is still being developed. Most investments rarely pay off, but Wynd has been a major success for SGH Capital’s books, as the initial investment grew 37 times over. Wynd now counts among its client base brands such as Total, MK2 and Carrefour.


Robots in the kitchen

SGH Capital has also proven its nose for potential with Zume Pizza, another food tech industry start-up. The company’s premise was the creation of robots to automate all the repetitive and labour-intensive tasks involved in making pizzas. The robots stretch the dough, add the ingredients, handle the cooking time, and can prepare up to 120 pizzas per hour. Simultaneously, algorithms work on order forecasting in order to optimize production. Zume Pizza even designed vans with ovens to complete cooking during delivery, to increase customer satisfaction. Humans retain their added value in this organization, as they are at the controls, and their creativity is allowed to shine through the creation of recipes, for example. For SGH Capital, this pizza investment turned out to be a tasty and profitable one: the fund invested just USD21 million in 2016, while Zume was valued at nearly USD2 billion in November, 2018.


Cancer detection

Another start-up whose capacity for growth and performance gained SGH Capital’s well-placed trust was Guardant Health. Listed on the NASDAQ in October, 2018, Guardant Health develops detection exams for multiple types of cancer. The fund led by Alexandre Azoulay funded the company in 2015 with the promise of tumour – and cancer type – detection through blood sampling. Guardant Health’s research has placed it squarely in a leading position, in a market where having the cutting edge is the difference between survival and bankruptcy.

Fretlink is yet another example of SGH’s good instinct. Founded in 2015, this start-up specialising in transportation already counts 1,500 clients, including Nestle, Colas, and even Showroomprivé. Fretlink functions as their digital logistics platform, organizing the transport of goods and optimizing delivery flow with the help of its large network of 5,000 road hauliers. Fretlink’s performance as a digital shipping agent is based on its ability to factor in clients of all sectors and sizes, using the agility provided by digitisation. And the start-up’s growth has only just begun, as it is now expanding to France’s neighbouring countries.


A golden opportunity for French and European start-ups

SGH Capital is looking outside of Europe as well. Alexandre Azoulay’s fund is also conducting operations across the Atlantic, particularly in Silicon Valley. It has invested in healthcare, roadside assistance with Yoshi, and even Haystack TV, an online video company based in California. The latter two companies have just raised USD21 million and USD2 million respectively. In the early days when financing is still the major concern for start-ups, SGH Capital’s backing can mean the difference between a company’s success and failure, given the fund’s ability to support and connect high potential projects in the United States and Europe.