Blog

  1. February 5, 2013

    Entrepreneur – your analytical brain will slow you down!

    By: Guy Stein

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    The analytical part of your brain knows the odds of succeeding and will slow you down by:

    1. Lowering your goals:
      Encouraging you to lower your short term goals to prevent disappointment.
    2. Being conservative:
      Preventing you from trying new & high risk approaches as they are “doomed to fail”.
    3. Being all-knowing:
      Pretending to know things which it doesn’t (speculations become facts) to decrease your uncomfortable state of uncertainty.

    It means well that left brain of yours – it wants to protect you from disappointment, failed experiments and uncomfortable uncertainty.
    However, this protection is bound to slow you down.

    Illogical as it might sound, you can deal with it by overdosing on all three (disappointment, failures and uncomfortable uncertainty):

    • Double your goals
      Make them nearly impossible.
      Do you think you can subscribe 50 users in the upcoming week? – Aim for 100!
      This will rewire your brain & have a double effect.
      Firstly – your analytical brain is now certain that your 100 users goal is impossible so the question “is it possible?” becomes irrelevant and with the freshly freed resources it can now ask itself “how can we make this thing possible after all?”.
      Secondly – being an impossible goal it will now happily resort to the Department of New & High risk Approaches.
    • Make uncertainly comfortable for you.
      Let it grow on you.
      The more comfortable you are with your uncertain state the more relaxed your analytical brain will be. It will stop panically asking “how do i get out of here?”; It will cease to secretly plan his escape back to Comfortville and instead it will  start testing and experimenting with the bits and pieces of reality as it is – uncertain.
  2. January 31, 2013

    To infinity and beyond!

    By: Guy Stein

    There’s something exciting about beginnings. all possibilities are open, all outcomes – plausible. Your imagination can still paint any future scenario it wants to and you are still allowed to go along with it. You can touch reality and shape it with your thought anyway you want to. Those are the moments before reality starts to run like a scared antelope. and it always does. just a split of a second after you actually try to capture it. it tends to leave the dreamy entrepreneur with two options – to freeze or to chase.

    reality

    November 2012: theJunction! We’re in! What joy!
    I was on a family trip when I got the call from Gideon (co-founder) and i hit my head on the traktoron (this is hebrew for ATV) as i jumped and cried “Yesh!” (a jewish battle call). Three days later we were in the Junction. It was a week of complete and bewildering shock (“our project should solve some ‘pain’ our users have? really? why? what does their “pain” have anything to do with us – we’re just a bunch of people who love to build things on the internet”), another two weeks of continuous development of our not-to-be-the-next-asana todo app and then the realization that we need to find ourselves a new antelope.

    713644918_reality_check_xlarge

    December 2013: We begin an ambitious social enterprise.
    The kickstarter of social events. Meetup meets mother teresa. We wanted to create a large virtual stage where people with big social consciences (like we have?) could climb and announce: “If ten people will join me tonight we’ll clean our neighborhood! ahoy!” or “If four people whose parents pushed them into music classes in their childhood join me today we’ll jam in the neighborhood’s nursing home and make some old folks happy!”. We believed in the idea. Our imagination painted a future where dozens of events happen every day and every single person we met with from Ron Gura (eBay) to Kenan Rebbe (Ruach tova) pat  us on the back and told us “you’re good people! very good people!”.

    January 2013: Money time
    Since mrs. karma couldn’t pay our electricity bills (it was the beginning of january after all) and since the purpose of the Junction is “D day” (a.k.a demo day – that last day when you stand in front of investors as if your were  Oliver Twist and ask for seconds on funding) – we decided to choose a less bony antelope  (for the vegetarians among us let’s be clear that catching our metaphorical antelope is solely for photographic purposes).

    We started an MVP – “the Florentine micro-workshops” (‘sadnaiyot’ in hebrew). The concept – people get together for one hour and PAY to learn something new. Pretty early questions like “why the h%# would people leave their comfortable homes and go to a micro-workshop?” rose – a fair question to ask and still high on our top questions list. However, we’re dealing with it from a different angle now – looking at it through our customer’s eyes and needs and we have that edgy feeling we might just nail it! (forwards: core value #7).

    I’ll end the post with 5 advises for early stage entrepreneurs that capture the essence of what i’ve learned in those exciting two months in the junction:

    1. choose your core values ​​from day one:
      Our core values: productive discussion, thankfulness towards our mentors, professionalism and honesty, a constant strive for efficiency, fun fun & fun, entrepreneurial karma and  faith in success.
      for each core value we have action items that are more or less measurable.
    2.  love and criticize your idea at the same time:
      Loving your idea ​​helps your motivation but limits the flexibility of your thoughts and actions
    3.  stealth-mode? why? Share!
      There is a significant gap between the time it takes to think about an idea and the ​​time it takes to build a product. The chance that someone will fall in love with your idea, leave everything he does and invest a year of his life to compete with you is extremely low and the benefits of a pro-sharing approach are just too many to miss on (success has many fathers – and probably many of them are foster ones).
    4. Do not put all your time and effort only in the things you like to do
      Your project needs you at all helms
    5. Do not block compliments
      an argumentative state of mind tends to block both criticism and compliments. Avoid it. The battlefield of an entrepreneur is not a verbal one – it is as real and vivid as nature itself – it is in the pursuit of the elusive antelope called reality.

    Good luck!

    Guy Stein, a chaser of antelopes ;-),
    is part of iCode – a team of four (with Gideon, Talia & Keren).
    We aim to enable people to share their micro-talents with others.

  3. January 29, 2013

    The Junction Wave 8 – Your Opportunity

    By: Eden Shochat

    Hey you. Yes, you. Have been working on your startup but need to take it to the next level? You should apply for 3 months of acceleration at The Junction wave 8.

    We are practicing the lean startup methodology at The Junction. I am glad to say that our alumni have built products that reached millions of people, raised more than $15M and actually made a difference. These include Simplee, Vod.io, YEVVO, AppsFlyer and others. The Junction is unique in being a pay-it-forward accelerator, meaning that teams don’t give any equity and become part of the Junction Network.

    Wave 8 is different. When starting The Junction, we set out to nurture great entrepreneurs, regardless of their idea. We maintain that.  The number of applications we get requires us to do interviews & get to know our applicants. We want to have the most balanced, high achievers group possible – peer support and cross pollinations are the basic ingredients for success for all teams.

    You must:

    1. Be working full time on your idea. Part time just doesn’t cut it when building a startup.
    2. Have your team with you. No engineering outsourcing. It just slows you down too much.
    3. Ready to get and give a hand. Each of the members gives 10% of the time to help others. Major power multiplier for everyone.

    We built an environment that makes people comfortable in evaluating their idea, even if they think it’s “the one”. Sometime improve on the idea, sometimes change it completely (highest record to date is 5 pivots in a single 3 month period). Members get help from both industry companies – Microsoft (access to all MS software & $60,000 cloud services credits), Google ($20,000 credits for app engine and many other services), Amazon Web Services ($5,000 cloud services) and other entrepreneurs, product, UX, scaling and capital raising ninjas. APM (legal firm), Leumi and Deloitte (accounting) joined us to help out the startups.

    This time around, we partnered with:

    1. Google Launch-pad: A week-long program prior to the wave that’s intense. You will go through UX, engineering, marketing and presentation training to become a better entrepreneur. You will also have later access to their device library, which includes iOS and Android devices for testing.
    2. General Motors have a major engineering center in Israel that can help Junction companies with automotive, robotics, speech technologies, algorithms and human machine interfaces.

    Many others help us as well. Three of the teams of wave 8 will be the winners of the Mastercard challenge, which means there will be office hours for companies that need to better understand payments. Citi have also been great in providing the time of their in-house UX expert to Junction members. Other office hours visitors include the Genesis team & others that are too many to count – check out the list!

    Jonathan Messika (Vod.io): “If I had to describe our experience at The Junction in one word, I guess it would probably be – Priceless. We entered The Junction as 3 individuals working together on an idea we had and left as an incorporated company on it’s way to close a seed round of funding with an almost fully-developed product.”

    At the end of the day, building product & starting a company are some of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Doing that as part of a pay-it-forward supportive environment where more than 150 people WANT you to succeed and become a contributing part of the Junction Network makes you so much more likely to take it to the next level.

    Wave 8 applications start now. Join us!

  4. January 27, 2013

    How did we miss the highway of online advertising?

    By: Omer Rachamim

    (Blog Post by Omer Rachamim, KejeK. Wave 7)

    For over 15 years, since the concept of online display advertising came to be, the industry has been straggling through narrow goat trails it has found for itself and that all rely on the same basis- Let’s SHOW them what we want to advertise. That makes sense, this is what we’ve always known – TV, print – they all relied on forced impressions. Who could have predicted that web 1.0 will grow to 2.0 and then 3.0? (Many actually – but that didn’t suffice to make marketers change their ways). So we ended up latching to this inefficient advertising method – and we shut our eyes in front of the bright most evidence for the wrong trail we’re in: 0.1. The average click through rate on banners is 0.1%! 1 in every 1000 people clicks on a banner. If an ad was to be shown in the UEFA final packed Wembley stadium, we would get 90 clicks. The entire population of NYC would have 8,224 people who would click on a banner. And we, hallucinating, ignore this simple truth: display advertising does not work. ”We know that….” many would say, “….but what can we do??” – This is what we know – this is what we do.

    The testimonies showing the immense value of Word-of-Mouth are long since known - people listen to one another, and not to the advertisers. That’s where the highway of online advertising lies. How wide is this highway? According to Nielsen, there are 2 trillion advertising impressions a year being made online. Multiply it with the average click-through rate (1/1000) - That’s 2 billion. Compared to that, there are 500 billion impressions a year of people’s posts to one another. Add to this the quality of the messages as this is what WoM about – and you will end up with the same conclusion I have – not only that the alternative road is wider, it’s better paved, with better lighting, clear lanes and splendid view. We need to develop a mechanisms that will tap into this reservoir of free will impressions – make our audience want to speak of us – not pushing it to his face, and not forcing them say our name (did anyone mention likes?). In order to achieve this, a new industry has to arise – online promotion. Surprisingly, there’s no clear distinction between promotion and advertising. Based on most sources that try to answer this duplication, advertising is more passive while promotion is more experience-based. This method of marketing existed up until recently mostly on the physical world, with sponsored events, free sample posts (where you feed yourselves on the supermarket), product samples sent via mail and promotional products giveaways.

    Despite it has ROI that equals TV and print ads, it was kept small as it has fundamental constraints that have kept it from growing: the lack of data regarding who is relevant for the advertiser, and the lack of reach to potential clients (A company that wishes to promote using free samples has to either reach millions, most of the are irrelevant, or reach a chosen few who are relevant, but then to miss out on so many others). Guess where these two constraints no longer exist? That’s right, the online world. The amount of data we have on potential clients and the almost unlimited reach capabilities were not available before. More so- we’re in a time when brand money, which makes up most of the advertising industry, is going online faster than ever – and is looking for a highway to use.

    The data, the reach capabilities, and the brands growing budgets all make the “sledge hammer” the promotion industry is looking for in order to break its constraining glass ceiling and position itself as a prominent advertising channel alongside display, search, video and social.

  5. December 26, 2012

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

    By: nitzan2012

    (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.

  6. December 18, 2012

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

    By: nitzan2012

    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.

  7. December 13, 2012

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

    By: yknobel

    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.

  8. December 11, 2012

    The bumpy road to starting a venture

    By: shrubash

    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?

  9. December 1, 2012

    Money makes the world go round

    By: thejunctioncoil

    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!

  10. November 28, 2012

    Time to pair-up – 3rd founders pair-up night at The Junction

    By: karinlevi144

    Registration until Wednesday Dec 12th, 24:00!

    It’s time to pair-up again! Action required: 

    • If you’d like to be evaluated for the current event, you will need to re-fill that form, as I’m sure much of the data you originally filed is outdated.
    • If you teamed up already, GREAT! Forward this to a less fortunate friend who is still looking. They will THANK you.

    Some background: A few months back, we set up the first and second pair-up events in Israel. It’s been an awesome experience, and coupled with a few great success stories, it’s a real high.

    And yet… Much like when we wrote the original post, the most common conversation starters we hear is “I need a co-founder”, mostly of the technical variant. We now have the opportunity for you to find the perfect co-founder, AGAIN.

    “How?” you ask? Simple. We invite you over to our humble crib at The Junction (week of December 9th, most likely), and let you pitch you, your idea & venture status for 2 whole minutes. No powerpoints allowed.

    If you are just out of 8-200 or from another startup and feel ready to start your own, how cool can it be to be pitched by 30 people, all wanting you to join them? You just need to pick & choose. The focus for the night is consumer b2c and b2b2c companies.

    So, who should register?

    Each pitch event will have ~ 30 ideas pitched to a crowd of 40 available entrepreneurs. We will review the list and send invitations for both pitchers and listeners a week before the event.

    To make it easier for people to “get it”, and tell who is the right person for you… We have set a dress code this time:

    - Blue shirt for developer/CTO

    - Red shirt for marketing

    - White shirt for CEO/Business

    - Black shirt for Product

    And there is a prize -  The first pair to get together, build something awesome and submit it to us for before March 1st, will win 2 seats in the Junction Wave 8.

    Registration until Wednesday Dec 12th, 24:00!

    Please! Wait for an official invitation, don’t just drop by (hint, hint).

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