An entrepreneur’s perspective on the junction
This post was written by Ido Yablonka, Co-Founder and CEO of ClarityRay, and a member of The Junction wave 3.
I’ll start at the end: if you’re located in Israel and are involved in an early-stage start-up, in particular one that is related to consumer web, you’re very likely making a big mistake not making the junction the first step in your journey. I tried to list down and explain the top ten reasons why.
The odds are against you in this game, you’re outmanned and outgunned. The only way to win is by staying laser-focused on a target few others recognize, and closing in quickly. Every action you take needs to bring you closer to that target, and should do so with maximum efficiency so as to allow the next action, or a minimal margin of error in case the target shifts. Staying at the junction will not let you slip up. you will have many deadlines, presentations and constant feedback from your environment that significantly reduce the risk of waste in your battle-plan, as long as you stay attentive.
2. Know how good competitors are.
The junction filters by ‘entrepreneurial seriousness’, meaning admittance is conditioned upon the team’s willingness to work full-time on the project for the duration of the program. This is surprisingly effective. In my wave, the teams were all very able and hard-working, which made me reevaluate the level of startups out there, potential competitors in particular. Fearing competition to a point of paralysis is as destructive as dismaying it without grounds. The junction will clearly illustrate the absurdity in the latter option – people are generally not completely insane and those who are willing to risk several months, if not years, of high-paid work for a startup tend to have a real shot at winning.
3. Grasp the economy of goodwill.
Genesis partners, who fully finance the program and also personally contribute a great number of office hours, have no direct gain from it. They do not receive equity (read: 0.0%), ROFR, non-compete, advisory positions, nothing. In our world that makes the program unique, some would say naive. To understand why this is a huge misconception and rather the preferred modus operandi to do great business, you must experience it firsthand, then pass it on. you will get that opportunity here.
4. Understand the investor’s perspective.
Many otherwise-good entrepreneurs fear investors, mostly because they don’t understand them. Naturally, this usually happens after the first ‘no’, which would have been fine if it didn’t account for repeating errors and lack of self-judgment which, in turn, act as a serious barrier to future success.
The junction gives you daily exposure to world-class venture capitalists, “the worst of the worst”. But how can you fear someone with whom you eat unsanitized Falafel with? exactly – you can’t, and therefore have no choice but to listen, and improve. lo and behold, three months later – you understand investors.
5. Know thyself.
The unfortunate downside of calling the shots is having no one else to blame but yourself. Every mistake ultimately reflects on your abilities, judgment and character. Perhaps the hardest thing about creating a startup (or being an adult, for that matter) is acknowledging, then internalizing this self-criticism for the purpose of self-improvement; you’re psychologically inclined to do the exact opposite. Working daily with other founders who face the same challenges makes the process easier and faster.
6. Reality check.
Sometimes we want to believe something is true, fear it isn’t, then do everything to avoid the proof of falsehood, consciously and unconsciously. Clear and simple, in startups this doesn’t fly. When a 0.5% conversion difference can make or break your business, you don’t have the luxury of suppression. At the junction, the people around you, VCs and founders alike, will constantly criticize your assumptions, as well they should. By no means does this mean you’re necessarily wrong; it’ll just force you to verify, and be reflective towards your assumptions.
7. Network like crazy.
During my stay at the junction I connected with the top founders, VCs, executives, technologists and angel investors in the country. I was a phone call away from almost anyone. You need a wide network to create your own luck, and you will get the chance to create it here.
8. Invent only that which needs be invented.
Without knowing what your startup does, I assure you, with complete certainty, that almost all of the problems you’re about to confront have already been fully solved; moreover, the solutions are well known, and to completely kill romance, reinventing these solutions will not make you a smarter person or a better innovator, but rather inefficient and less likely to succeed. The junction allows you to enjoy the shared knowledge for most of the problems web startups face.
9. Understand that no one hands it to you.
All of the above will only work if you put effort into the process. Sure, you can stay your time at the junction, drink your coffee and do nothing else, then come out empty handed. Nobody will push you into anything, there’s no kindergarten teacher. But is that a bad thing? I think the opposite. You need to be very proactive out there, and missing out on 2-3 opportunities in the junction will force you into that realization fast.
10. Make friends.
Praying that the road is long is easier when you’re having fun. I did at the junction and also met some of the nicest and most interesting people ever. I can’t recall meeting a good entrepreneur who was constantly agonizing – it’s seriously critical you enjoy the ride
Thanks again Jonny, Eden, Micha, Mika and Ben.