Inside Resilience's Bid To Reinvent Cancer Care

Co-founders Jonathan Benhamou and Céline Lazorthes are were already among France's most respected entrepreneurs. But their new healthtech startup represents their most audacious bet yet: Using AI and data to transform oncology treatments for doctors and patients.

4 months ago   •   7 min read

By Chris O'Brien

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Wind back the clocks a couple of years ago, and French entrepreneur Jonathan Benhamou was enjoying a pleasant break from the frenzy of startup founder life.

Benhamou had become a partner at Alven Ventures after selling his startup, PeopleDoc, to Ultimate Software in 2018 for $300 million. Such an exit was a big deal in a French ecosystem still seeking respectability. After working in the United States for several years, Benhamou moved his family back to Europe, eventually settling down in Madrid.

"Back in 2018, I said to my wife, 'I will never start a company anymore. I'm done with that. I'm gonna start to invest,'" he said. "Which I did and I invested in many startups."

Rather than feeling exhausted, Benhamou said he suffered a bit of imposter syndrome following PeopleDoc.

"I always felt that I was lucky and not talented," he said. "And the reason why I didn't want to start again was that I just wanted to end on this success and not to try again and then fail. Because once can be luck and I don't know if I'm gonna succeed again."

But, as so often happens to entrepreneurs, he found himself getting bored. "When you are not the pilot of your own venture, that was not for me," he said. "So we decided to jump into this industry without knowing what we wanted to do."

"This industry" being healthcare, and more specifically oncology. Thus was born Resilience. Co-founded with Céline Lazorthes, who had previously started and sold crowdfunding platform Leetchi, Resilience made a splashy debut in March 2021 when it announced a Seed Round of €5 million that included such notable investors as Roxanne Varza, Xavier Niel, Jean-Charles Samuelian, Singular VC, and Nathalie Balla. Just as headline-grabbing as its promise to re-invent cancer care was the founding team of repeat entrepreneurs who were able to attract such backing with only a general concept of what they actually wanted to do.

Since then, Resilience's plans have come into sharper focus. The company announced a €40 million Series A round in January led by Cathay Innovation. Other participants included Singular, Exor, Picus Capital, Seaya Ventures plus healthcare-related players MACSF Ventures, Vivalto Ventures, Ramsay Santé, Fondation Santé Service.

It's a remarkably fast start for a group of health care newbies. But it's an example of how a growing community of repeat entrepreneurs is allowing the French Tech ecosystem to move faster even as the broader global startup pace quickens.

"I told myself never again," Benhamou wrote in March 2021. "But there is decidedly not an efficient vaccine against the entrepreneurial virus."

Stumbling Into Cancer Care

The road to Resilience began a couple of years ago. When the pandemic hit, Benhamou admittedly knew nothing about healthcare. But when Covid arrived, he found himself staring helplessly at his computer as people got sick and hospitals struggled to find supplies.

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