Archive: Dec 2012

  1. How I make decisions- By Eytan Levit (a current Junctionier)

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    (originally published on Eytan Levit’s blog)

    picture-3Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes decisions. Therefore, a CEO can most accurately be measured by the speed and quality of those decisions. Great decisions come from CEOs who display an elite combination of intelligence, logic, and courage.” – Ben Horowitz – How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs

    In this post I’ll try to describe, also for myself, how I make decisions.
    The question is how to make high impacting decisions in a fast and high quality manner. Following are the methods I’ve signaled out as the fastest ways to reach quality decisions.

    Talking with smart people

    I Actively try to be around as many smart people I can find. This blog and my twitter account are part of my active effort to reach more smart people I can talk with.

    1. The main reason that led me to apply for TheJunction was to be surrounded by smart people, and it is one of the most rewarding things I’ve done, by far. My father has a saying, “in a place where there are smart people, you learn from the walls”, I agree.
    2. I maintain three mental lists – my action plan, strategy and open questions on various subjects that need attending(legal, patents, scaling, tech stack related, investors, competition etc).
    3. I share my plans and questions with anyone that has domain expertise, and also leaving room for serendipity(coffee talks, lunches etc).
    4. When people respond to my plans or strategy, I usually just look for a repeating response or for advice given from someone with domain expertise. Often, an advice that repeats is true, sometimes it’s wrong – it’s your job to develop the hunch.

    Helping other people

    • Helping other people is a spiritual action that has amazing effects on your life, so strong, that it is mentioned in all or most religions I know.
    • Helping others is so strong that it is used as a technique in helping drug addicts to get clean, and is exploited by many to convince people to do horrible things like multi layer marketing or kill other people.
    • Helping others in the startup world is one of the things I enjoy most, learn from most and hope to some day be able to do it full time.

    Blogs and Books

    I’ve switched from reading many books to reading a select book many times. I’m currently practicing Running Lean/Ash Maurya and The 4 Hour Body/Time Ferris. Practicing means that I’m reading them, implementing their ideas, seeing what works for me and what doesn’t, go back to the book, learn more things to implement. I find this practicing hugely beneficial. I usually read a new book only if I get a few recommendations from people I respect, the smarter the people around you, you hear about better books and blogs! I also use Hacker News and my Twitter feed to find interesting things to read.

    Lean Startup

    I find Lean Startup a meta discipline of how to make high impacting decisions in various startup stages. There is also a community and a movement around it, providing a lot of learning material and examples from experienced entrepreneurs. Lean Startup forces you to be constantly aware of your assumptions and learning rate, something that I find is a spiritual action as well, and applicable in many places in life, not only in startups.

    Hope this was interesting, would love to hear other people’s take on this.

    Find me on twitter or facebook.

  2. Monetizing ideas – an inventor’s insights (Dr. Shmuel Ur’s public talk at the junction)

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    It was a pleasure to give a talk last Thursday at the junction. I shorten my two day workshop on monetizing ideas to one and a half hours and was hoping the crowd will get into it and they certainly did. The goal of the talk was to explain to the participants what can be done with ideas beside nothing or opening a company. After all if you have an idea you consider valuable every month, you can’t start a new company every month. I started the talk with motivation, showing a few ideas I sold that came out of my dancing experience. Then we discussed what the audience need to know about patents (not as lawyers but as inventors) as patents are the most common way to sell ideas. We talked a little bit on silly patents and the ethics of patents. We discussed the options open to monitizing ideas: selling ideas to companies that buy ideas, selling idea to the company to which it will help, writing a patent and selling it a few years later when granted, and starting a company. We explained for each choice how much effort it is, how much money and the expected return. I explained a little bit on the market of ideas (I already sold more then 20) of which people are not aware off. As a one liner on selling ideas, the effort is one/two day, does not cost money, expected return about 10K$ and percentage in the future. That is the lowest effort I am aware off on which you can expect a return.

    During and after the talk there were many questions. Some people expressed practical interest in the market for ideas and some I already connected to the buyer. Other people in the audience were knowledgeable of parts of the market I was not aware off and could add to the discussions. Some asked to register to my two day workshop but the next scheduled one is in Lugano…

    Thanks for having me. I think the environment you created in the Junction is very nice.

  3. Notes from TechStars Info Session @ The Junction, Nov 22nd, 2012

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    A guest post by Yishai Knobel, a TechStars mentor. Follow Yishai’s blog here.

    On Nov 22nd, we held our second TechStars info session for Israeli startups, this time hosted by The Junction in Tel-Aviv (shoutout to Eden Schochat and team for the hospitality).

    For those who couldn’t make it, I tried to capture the fun session we had. I was joined by two TechStars alumni: Vova Feldman, co-founder & CTO at Senexx, and Eylon Ohevya, co-founder and COO at Saverr.

    With a submission deadline coming up (Boston: Dec 21st; New York: Jan 4th & Jan 18th), we had a full house and high energy in the room. We started the info session with a little exercise with a brave volunteer who was asked to pitch his company in less than 30 seconds. The audience was challenged to give him feedback about his presentation.  But the group quickly reverted to (guess what, Israelis…) arguing about the merits of the idea.

    Impressively, when refocused on the task, The Junction became TechStars-ish: feedback on the delivery, communication suggestions, speed, emphasis, etc. Our exercise put the group in the right mindset: every TechStars city is a community of entrepreneurs committed to helping others. Working together and supporting each other while staying focused on their need can force people out of their comfort zone but once done successfully – it becomes a very powerful experience.

    Vova shared his experience interviewing for TechStars and eventually moving to Boston for the program. He emphasized that the CEO (if not the entire team) must be physically present and stay at least another 2 months after the program for fundraising momentum.  In fact, many of the international startups that get into TechStars open an office in the U.S., to capitalize on the networks they developed during the program.

    Great questions came up at the Q&A session. I captured some of them below:

    Q: Is being a non-American startup a weakness and how can an Israeli startup overcome it?
    A: Teams are considered regardless of their country of origin. However, when you apply, consider your competition: other amazing startups, many from the U.S. and from all over the world. Therefore you should emphasize your strengths: super-strong team, deep technology, market traction, etc.

    Q: Our startup has initial traction in the Israeli market. Does it count as traction for U.S. investors and for TechStars?
    
A: It depends on the product. Some (especially consumer-facing) could appeal to the Israeli consumer but not for the U.S.. Other products (especially B2B) could easily appeal to both. In any case, TechStars teams spend much of their time on finding product-market fit in the U.S.,

    Q: Should we incorporate in Israel or wait to incorporate in the U.S.?
    A: it depends on your situation, but TechStars will help you upon acceptance

    You can see the full TechStars schedule here: www.techstars.com/schedule

    And big thanks again to team at The Junction.

  4. The bumpy road to starting a venture

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    As many before me, I thought our project would be up and running within two or three months, max. So newly married with a few months savings I quit my job and took the second plunge. While the end destination has always been clear, the road has been long and windy.

    My name is Shmuel Rubashkin and together with my friend Zvi Rozenberg, we are offering convenient pick-up points for online purchase. So instead of missing the delivery guy or waiting inline at the post office, you will be able to pick-up your online order from your local convenience store while you’re getting groceries or coming home late. The concept is simple enough so what is taking so long???

    Oh the endless pivots:

    Where to start?

    Large chains offer a larger amount of pickup points but I couldn’t believe how long the sales cycle could take (one meeting took us four months I’m not even counting the followups…) David Katz, from Skills who came for office hours, argued that you shouldn’t even consider what you’re making a product but an experiment, a mere fact finding hypotheses to check your assumptions. Coupled with advice from Ido Yablonka from ClarityRay (both are Junction alumni that are now giving back to Junction members) that we need to get our product out ASAP. We put the big clients that ‘expressed great interest’ on hold and focused on smaller independent stores. We found something amazing. A lot of independent stores already receive packages for their neighbors. We could simply help the store owners offer the service on a larger scale and get more people into their stores. This allowed us to close agreements fast and start a pilot with eight locations in Tel Aviv. Once we had something live to show it made talking to big players much easier and we are now starting a pilot with a major chain. What we leaned:

    Get it right or get it out?

    (more…)

  5. Money makes the world go round

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    Payments are hard. They shouldn’t be.

    We partnered with IATI and MasterCard to to offer the first acceleration-focused program for payment-related startups for the winner of the IATI & MasterCard Israel Technology Award.

    mastercard-logo The pillars of The Junction are:

    1. Shared workspace that provides the 20+ members of the junction the space, atmosphere and infrastructure to cross pollinate and help each other in building their startups
    2. $100,000 worth of perks, including $60,000 cloud credit by Microsoft, $5,000 by Amazon Web Services and $20,000 startup pack by Google.
    3. Office hours by CTOs, UX, Design & Product people where they come and do actual hands-on work with Junction members
    4. Demo day where top angels compete on funding The Junction & community startups
    5. The dedicated Junction Network of alumni that want you to succeed, coupled with the mentoring, advice and support from Genesis Partners

    By partnering with Mastercard, we will offer The Junction members with “office hours” by the payment specialists. Actually, we will hold a talk with Daniel Cohen of Mastercard Worldwide in the coming weeks to discuss “where is the payment industry going”? Register at http://meetup.com/the-junction/ to get notified when this happens.

    We are looking for brilliant web or mobile application ideas. Israeli start-up companies and entrepreneurs with working prototypes or early deployments are invited to submit outstanding and innovative applications in the broad eco-system of supporting or using payments. If your travel application accepts credit cards, are developing a mobile payments processing SDK, deploying a crowd funding platform or even building the next generation social commerceB2C app, we want to hear from you!

    Winners get:

    • Guaranteed position to 8th wave of The Junction
    • Office hours by industry leaders including Mastercard
    • $25k cash
    • Exposure and PR as the winner of the Mastercard challenge!

    We want to help you take your ideas and applications to the next level. Apply here.

    This is a win/win model for the entrepreneur community & the larger companies. More collaborations by The Junction to be announced!