Benoît Leleux

Stephan Schmidheiny Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance

Benoît Leleux is Stephan Schmidheiny Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance. He is recognized as a leading specialist in entrepreneurship, venture capital, private equity, and corporate venturing, particularly in emerging markets, and is the winner of numerous case writing awards in categories relating to these topics.

His recent research and case writing activities have focused on sustainability as a source of entrepreneurial opportunities and how entrepreneurs incorporate values into their projects for greater impact as well as novel forms of financing for early and late-stage opportunities. These range from search funds to affinity financing, and innovative business models for corporate venturing such as open accelerators, venture clienting, and corporate VC partnering.

The sustainability trend is increasingly driving new value propositions from entrepreneurs. Rather than regarding it as something to tackle for defensive reasons such as compliance, threats to their brand, or risk avoidance, they now see it as an opportunity to create new offerings for customers.

Leleux is the author of Winning Sustainability Strategies: Finding Purpose, Driving Innovation and Executing Change (2019), which serves as the conceptual framework for a five-week IMD online course, Winning Sustainability Strategies (WSS), which he directs. The program targets general managers and executives in charge of sustainability efforts, equipping them with the tools required to analyze their firms’ sustainability footprint, investigate their materiality matrix, design an impactful transformation gameplan, and follow it through with proper metrics and communication strategy. The program highlights how to build solid business cases for sustainability strategies as a prerequisite to gain traction and ultimately achieve impact. He is also Co-Director of the Foundations for Business Leadership (FBL) program.

He has published several other books including Private Equity 4.0: Reinventing Value Creation, Nurturing Science-Based Startups: An International Case PerspectiveFrom Microfinance to Small Business Finance and A European Casebook on Entrepreneurship and New Ventures.

In addition, Leleux is a world-leading case writer and has consistently been ranked among The Case Centre’s best-selling case authors in the world. He has authored more than 30 award-winning cases at the crossroads of entrepreneurship, venture financing, emerging markets, and family business, most recently Lionheart Farms (Philippines) and the tree of life, winner of the 2022 HEC Montreal CSR Challenge Case Writing Competition, Brown-Forman: Nothing better in the market, which won the 2021 EFMD Case Writing Award in the Family Business category, and EcoAlf: Because there is no planet B, winner of the 2020 John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition.

He is also actively involved in numerous startups and venture capital and private equity funds as a board member, advisor or in other capacities.

Leleux has been at IMD since 1999, serving as Director of the MBA program from 2006 to 2008, and Director of Research and Development from 2004 to 2008. He was previously Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD and Zubillaga Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance at Babson College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Prior to his academic career, he was the head of corporate venturing for a leading agribusiness conglomerate in Southeast Asia.

Selected publications
Case Study
Lionheart Farms (Philippines) and the tree of life
Lionheart Agrotech Limited, the holding company of Lionheart Farms is developing a large-scale sustainable hybrid coconut plantation with integrated processing and manufacturing capacities in the ...
Published 19 April 2022
Brown-Forman: Nothing better in the market
Case Study
Brown-Forman: Nothing better in the market
London, UK, July 2020. G. Garvin Brown IV, the chairman of Brown-Forman Corporation and 5th generation family shareholder, was preparing to celebrate the firm’s 150th anniversary. Despite its curre...
Published 31 December 2021
Case Study
ECOALF: Because there is no Planet B
MADRID, MARCH 2019. ECOALF was born from the belief of Javier Goyeneche that something had to be done to ensure the sustainability of the planet. How was it possible that in 2019 airlines still gav...
Published 17 September 2020
Book
Winning sustainability strategies: Finding purpose, driving innovation and executing change
Contrary to popular belief and the optimism generated by the ambitious global targets set in the Paris Agreement and the UNs Sustainable Development Goals, the implementation of corporate sustainab...
Published 15 November 2018
Book
Private equity 4.0: Reinventing value creation
Private Equity 4.0 provides an insider perspective on the private equity industry, and analyzes the fundamental evolution of the private equity asset class over the past 30 years, from alternative...
Published 25 February 2015
Book
Nurturing science-based ventures: An international case perspective
The number of students who wish to learn about entrepreneurship and actively engage in entrepreneurial activities - either by creating their own companies or by spurring innovation within a large o...
Published 19 February 2008
Book
From microfinance to small business finance: The business case for private capital investments
Based on the proceedings of one of the most talked about events of the Year of Microfinance, this book makes a compelling business case for private capital investments in microfinance in developing...
Published 26 November 2007
Academic publications
Article
Sheltering-in-privilege: Silicon Valley
We suggest that one source of understanding entrepreneurial resilience and regional culture is through the denizens of Silicon Valley, and how they are handling crisis situations. We surveyed 119 e...
Published 10 June 2021
Article
Impact of venture competitions on entrepreneurial network development
Unlike what organizers of venture competitions usually claim, we found no significant correlation between participating in venture competitions and the expansion of entrepreneurial networks for ear...
Published 12 October 2020
Article
European IPO markets: The post-issue performance imperative
European secondary markets appear to have so far failed as providers of capital for emerging growth companies. Conventional explanations focus on the supply side of the market, blaming over-regulat...
Published 1 August 1997
Article
The relative impact of actual and potential rivalry on firm profitability in the pharmaceutical industry
A study presented measures of actual as well as potential rivalry and examines the effects of these two types of competition on the profitability of 22 American pharmaceutical firms from 1963 to 19...
Published 1 January 1999
Article
Small is beautiful? Niche entrepreneurship with a Swiss touch
Entrepreneurship in Switzerland seems to be the exact opposite of that in Silicon Valley and can be described as low-impact entrepreneurship, or niche-centric entrepreneurship. We used an online su...
Published 20 March 2020
Insight for Executives
Article
How oil independent survived threat to its ethical values
Lundin Energy’s longstanding commitment to sustainability was challenged by an oil price war and the slump caused by the pandemic. Here’s how the company rose to the challenge.
Published 16 September 2021
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Article
Entrepreneurship in Switzerland seems to be the exact opposite of that in Silicon Valley and can be described as low-impact entrepreneurship, or niche-centric entrepreneurship. We used an online su...
Published 22 June 2020
Article
Family businesses in the times of crisis and global recession: A story of resilience and sustainability
In its long history, Firmenich has successfully navigated numerous crises (such as previous pandemics, economic depressions, and world wars). That history has taught Firmenich that resilience (e.g....
Published 22 April 2020
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Article
What gives a brand the ability to stand head and shoulders above a saturated marketplace? What enables it to win loyalty and enthusiasm from its employees and its audience? What gives it staying po...
Published 10 September 2019
Article
Formula One motor firms are becoming textbook cases in how to successfully branch into other sectors
Formula One race cars are the most technologically advanced cars in existence. Every car is equipped with 120 sensors which generate over a million pieces of information every second. This torrent ...
Published 15 March 2019
Article
From single business to portfolio of businesses: When does the family business become a business family?
Everything flows and evolves. And family businesses are no exception. From the first-generation founder firm to a real family firm in later generations, and from a single business firm to a complex...
Published 13 March 2019
Article
Comment les entreprises peuvent à la fois être climatiques et rentables
According to the World Meteorological Organization, CO2 levels have peaked over the last 650'000 years, as have average temperatures, since the world has had its nine warmest years since 2005. The ...
Published 23 November 2018
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Article
Companies and executives must develop a new sense of urgency, moving their sustainability programs from the realm of compliance to that of a key driver of performance and innovation, which requires...
Published 22 November 2018
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Article
IMD recognized De Agostini Group, a third- to fifth-generation family enterprise, for its ability to evolve from a traditional publishing house to a global investment holding in just two decades. T...
Published 12 October 2018
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Article
Receiving one of the most prestigious accolades for "excellence in family business" was a memorable moment for Andy Rubin, third generation family shareholder and chairman of Pentland Brands – the ...
Published 8 December 2017
Article
Bavaria: Collaboration for the Common Good
Bavaria N.V. is the second largest brewery and one of the top ten oldest family businesses in the Netherlands. Headquartered in Lieshout, North Brabant, the company is fully owned by the Swinkels f...
Published 1 November 2017
Article
Pentland Group: Building a family brands, for the world to love, generation after generation
Pentland Group plc is a family-owned global company operating in the areas of sports, fashion and outdoors clothing and footwear via its three divisions. Its brand management business, Pentland Bra...
Published 1 November 2017
Article
Adidas Russia/CIS and the Russian Crisis: Retrentch or double down
This case is based on extensive semi-structured interviews with key adidas Russia/CIS executives who were in charge of implementing the radical IT, supply chain and omnichannel initiatives that tra...
Published 8 September 2017
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Article
In 2006, three young Austrian had a brilliant idea: a tracking system for amateur runners to record runs and improve their times. They knew that more people were taking up running. They had the tec...
Published 26 July 2017
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Article
Receiving one of the most prestigious accolades for "excellence in family business" was a memorable moment for Hans Michael Jebsen and Heinrich Jessen – the two principal shareholders of Jebsen & J...
Published 20 January 2017
Article
Portraits croisés sur l'innovation
Panorama succinct de qulques classements et indicateurs mesurant l'innovation en Belgique, au Luxembourg et en Suisse.
Published 1 September 2016
Article
Featured case: JM Huber: A family of solutions
The company in this case places equal importance on family and business. As can be imagined, both positives and negatives result from this. The positives are very clear, including fast decision-mak...
Published 19 November 2015
Article
Values affinity and beyond (part 2): Managing the partnership between HNWI and family business
In this article we review some important elements of the mutual attractions and the consequential key issues in managing the relationship over time. How do you keep the emotional flame alive over t...
Published 6 October 2015
Article
Is there a magic formula to sustainably grow your business over generations? Lessons from leading, global award-winning family businesses
Research has shown that less than 30% of family businesses survive into the third generation. In North America studies have revealed that only “12% are still viable into the third generation, and o...
Published 1 July 2015
Article
Long-term horizons, current income and diversification drive investment decisions
High net worth individuals invest for three main purposes. Long-term capital appreciation is the most important, current income ranks second, and gaining a level of diversification comes in third. ...
Published 9 June 2015
Article
Values affinity and beyond: Attracting HNWI to invest in your family business
Analyzing the results of the KPMG Family Business Global Survey, one cannot escape being surprised by the natural affinities between HNWls and family businesses. N3 outlined in the global report, m...
Published 12 May 2015
Article
Academic insight: Personal relationships and family businesses: Soft and fuzzy or just better at handling paradoxes?
One of more intriguing aspects of the functioning of farrily businesses is their ability to mesh emotional with pure business considerations to generate original and often exceptional performance.
Published 3 March 2015
Article
Academic insight: The investment profile of HNWI: Angels or wolves in sheep skins?
The assulll'tion of KPMG Global Family Business Survey is that natural affinities are drawing family businesses closer and closer to high net worth individuals when it comes to raising the funds fo...
Published 10 February 2015
Article
Family businesses' experience with HNWI as investors: Conditional love
As pointed out by Christophe Bernard in his column on 18 October 2014, some 42% of the respondents to the Family Business Global Survey have, at some point in their business, received direct invest...
Published 15 January 2015
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Article
Receiving one of the most prestigious accolades for "excellence in family business" was a memorable moment for the ten Zobel de Ayala family members gathered in Dubai on October 16. They belong to ...
Published 30 October 2014
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Article
Founded in 1680, Netherlands-based Bavaria is one of Europe's oldest family-owned beer producers. It has a reputation for operating efficiency and brewing knowhow but by 2007, as its main western E...
Published 1 May 2013
Article
Frontiers of entrepreneurship research 2012
Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research is a compilation of the conference proceedings and the top papers presented each year at the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC). BCER...
Published 1 January 2013
Article
Frontiers of entrepreneurship research 2011
Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research is a compilation of the conference proceedings and the top papers presented each year at the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC). BCER...
Published 1 January 2012
Article
La adaptabilidad, una cualidad para sobrevivir
Published 20 November 2011
Article
Noir/Illuminati II: Defining socially responsible affordable luxury clothing
Peter Ingwersen founded the companies in February 2005. The two entities were like Siamese twins; Noir designed and produced luxury clothing for women, while Illuminati II was set up to produce hig...
Published 1 February 2011
Article
Frontiers of entrepreneurship research 2010: Proceedings of the thirtieth annual entrepreneurship research conference
Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research is a compilation of the conference proceedings and the top papers presented each year at the Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC). BCER...
Published 1 January 2011
Report
Europe's family offices, private equity and venture capital
This study shows that family offices have become an integral part of the European private equity investor community and that a trend of increasing allocation to the asset is likely to continue.
Published 22 November 2007
Report
Family offices and risk investment
We present the results of a study of a subset of major European family offices managing at least¦€1.5 billion. Through extensive interviews with family members and family office managers, we¦compil...
Published 1 August 2007
Report
Europe's family offices, private equity and venture capital
This study shows that family offices have become an integral part of the European private equity investor community and that a trend of increasing allocation to the asset is likely to continue.
Published 1 January 2007
Report
Europe's family offices, private equity and venture capital
This study shows that family offices have become an integral part of the European private equity investor community and that a trend of increasing allocation to the asset is likely to continue.
Published 1 January 2007
Article
Camions Volvo: Que faire d'une activité qui semble condamnée ?
Published 1 January 2006
Article
A good idea on paper
In 1995, Robert Keane, an American recently graduated from INSEAD, was about to launch VistaPapers. Adapting a concept already proven in the US, the company would offer speedy delivery of low-volum...
Published 1 April 2005
Report
Understanding the economic value of legal covenants in investment contracts: A real-options approach to venture equity contracts
Valuing early-stage high-technology growth-oriented companies is a challenge to current valuation methodologies. This inability to come up with robust point estimates of value should not and does n...
Published 1 October 2002
Article
In search of capital for the young business
From business angels to stock markets, there is a great range of finance sources. Benoît Leleux proposes ways of deciding which are best for the entrepreneur.
Published 11 December 2000
Article
Riding on the wave of IPOs
IPOs (initial public offerings) were at a high in 1996. A lot of companies are taking advantage of IPOs, rather than finding another way of finding money, for the sake of respectability and because...
Published 3 February 1997
Finding purpose, driving innovation and executing change