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Benoit Henry: I Think Knowing My Blind Spots Has Made Me Realise That I Need to Surround Myself With People Who Complement Me and More Importantly That I Need to Listen to Them

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Benoit Henry

Benoit Henry of Certifaction AG.

Tell us about yourself?

Hi! I am Benoit Henry, CEO of Certifaction, a SaaS company based in Switzerland. Our enterprise solution is the world leader in privacy-first eSigning and is already being used in a variety of industries, particularly within healthcare and regulated industries.

I am a serial entrepreneur with a passion for founding and scaling companies on the intersection of business and technology. While working and living in Asia, Europe and in the US and now residing in Zurich, Switzerland I made a lot of great experiences.

I am a strong believer that success is first and foremost about people and proper empowerment.

What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?

The biggest misconception is to believe that there is such a thing as a Silver Bullet called Product Market Fit and that once you find it, everything should take care of itself.

First many, if not most start-ups evolve in a very competitive environment and great ideas can be copied, so the Silver Bullet is more the exception than the rule. Second, the best product is nothing without proper execution and hard work.

If you could go back in time to any moment from your journey, and give yourself one tip, what would it be?

Success is about people and culture eats strategy for breakfast. Make sure you have the right people on your team, trust and empower them (but also hold them accountable for their actions) and the rest will take care of itself.

What makes you stand out as an entrepreneur?

Like many entrepreneurs, I set high standards for myself and others. I’m also fully aware that I’m anything but perfect. For instance, my attitude of “getting things done” tends to stifle creativity.

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I think knowing my blind spots has made me realise that I need to surround myself with people who complement me and more importantly that I need to listen to them.

Collecting and interpreting diverging opinions really helps me decide how and when to act.

What are some of the best working habits you’ve gained over the past couple of years?

– Starting my day with meditating – Being crystal clear on what to focus and on what not to focus – Taking the time for myself (“mens sana in corpore sano”) – Listening (intensely) and reflecting – The truth is out there! Just don’t stay in your office and go and meet with new people.

Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?

At the core of Certifaction is the belief that digitization should not not be at the expense of privacy (yours and mine). We set up the business with this in mind. Besides, we are striving very hard to have a positive ESG impact.

For instance, when we designed the solution for ePrescription, we asked ourselves how we could make that technology inclusive for people with low digital literacy and came up with our digital twin (this features enables the authentication and redemption of printed prescriptions by pharmacists).

We are also very proud that our technology helps prevent and detect fraud by making all types of documents tamper-proof and easily verifiable.

When I see it in use to fight forgery of municipality edits in Guatemala City or university diplomas, I’m filled with pride and joy.

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Where do you see your business in five years?

We have global ambitions and we want to create a category that we will own. As mentioned, the core of Certifaction is the belief that digitization should not not be at the expense of privacy.

Many regulators and organisations are rightfully concerned about the security and privacy aspects of their digitization effort and we want to arm those organisations with an easy-to-integrate privacy-preserving eSigning solution.

We stand for privacy. What could be more Swiss than that? And who does not value privacy?

What do you think the biggest challenge will be for you in getting there?

Beware of hybris! Growing a business is never easy and we need to strive to do what’s right, every day.

Talk to us about your biggest success story so far?

Setting up Frateli with some friends, a foundation with the purpose of accompanying students with potential from working-class backgrounds to enable them to succeed in their studies, to build their self-confidence and to explore and find their professional path.

Today, the foundation is accompanying over 4 000 students per year.

How do clients and customers find you? Are you much of a salesperson for yourself?

They find us in many ways, but customer referral is my preferred way, as this shows that we’re really doing a great job with our existing clients and that they spread the word of our good deeds.

I’m not sure I’m a salesperson myself, but I really enjoy talking to our customers and closing one gives me a great sense of accomplishment.

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What one tip would you give to fellow startup founders?

Be picky when choosing your co-founders, your team, and even your investors. Hire slow and don’t lower your standards, ever. To succeed, you need to have the right people on board.

And finally, what do you hope the future brings both you personally, and your business?

A sense of accomplishment where I can feel that we as individuals and we as a company have had a positive impact on this world.

Follow Certifaction AG on Twitter or Linkedin.

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