Located in Israel, the so-called Silicon Wadi is the home of almost 6000 startups with the most unicorns per capita globally. Combined with the fact that Israel’s population accounts for only 9 million people, it makes its tech ecosystem’s achievements even more impressive.
Many entrepreneurs wonder about the secret behind all this success. Turns out, it’s not that unattainable – in this blog post, we shared the outtakes from our interview with one of Israel’s top investors, Gigi Levy Weiss, who shared his wisdom on what you need to do to make your business skyrocket:
1. Work on your speed
As simple as it sounds, Gigi Levy Weiss emphasizes that fast founders are the ones that usually end up with unicorns on their resumes, so get that speed going and make it fast.
Gigi says that to learn how the startup should work, you have to pay attention to the game industry: “When you look at startups, basically, one extreme that you have is enterprise, B2B, heavy startups, long sale cycles. And on the other extreme, you have games. […] And games, unlike other products, don’t have any other utility than being fun. […] As what you’re selling is entertainment, the customer’s ability to decide not to use you takes a split second .”
Games require constant optimization since there’s nothing more for the user to base the buying decision on – when the game stops being fun, they just drop it and move on to something more fun. Game founders are constantly battling with themselves to make their products better and fast since the market is oversaturated with other entertainment options. That’s why it’s beneficial to observe how the gaming industry operates with their lightning-speed decisions, A/B testing, and iteration.
2. Stop for nothing, but know when to learn and listen
“All the entrepreneurs and founders have a lot of conflicts in them,” says Gigi. But the best ones are those who charge ahead in true alpha leader style, yet, when an opportunity presents itself to learn, they drop the attitude and put their sole focus on getting information that may prove valuable in their endeavors.
“When you even meet people like Zuckerberg at the end of the day – if he feels like he has something to learn from you, he just puts his attention on you, and he learns from you whatever he can learn. […] It’s all about having this capability of knowing when you really really need to learn.”
The main outtake from this is evaluating and knowing when to switch gears from leader to learner. No one is born knowing it all, so even though your experience may get you far, knowing when to stop and absorb will land you at the top.
3. Get that resilience going
There’ll be moments when your company struggles with seemingly never-ending problems. It happens to almost every business in existence. Persistence and grit are crucial if you want a booming business.
However, everyone’s levels of resilience are different. Yet, as Gigi points out – great founders never run out of it, no matter the number of challenging moments. And that’s what separates success from failure, unless you stop – it’s not a failure.
4. Put a laser focus on people
Smart founders focus on their hiring game – they only aim for “people with fire in their eyes” – those who are self-serving, and you can always rely on them to go the extra mile.
As Gigi explains, it affects the long-term state of the company: “Only A people can recruit A people, the B’s recruit C’s and D’s. And what it means is that a very strong person would recruit somebody else who’s very strong under him because there’s no fear. Somebody who’s mediocre will recruit somebody below them who’s weaker because they’re going to be afraid of their position.[…] And so, if you recruited B to the position, it’s not just the quality of that B-level person […] everything under that person […] eventually, it’s going to trickle down.”
However, hiring only an A-level team isn’t enough – you also have to make sure that they know and are fully immersed in your strategy. The logic behind this is that if you do something without knowing its reasoning and the end goal, the results will be lacking. Another crucial detail is making people feel accountable – like it’s their own company, their building here, which, as Gigi admits, is tricky, but the truly great teams know how to make it work.
5. Look for a business ecosystem with dense networks
Gigi is an advocate of the network effect, when different nodes put together make the whole network stronger. Over the years, places like Silicon Valley and Silicon Wadi developed their tech ecosystems into saturated networks of different nodes, including business environment, government support, talent pool, VC’s, R&D centres, accelerators, incubators, etc. Gigi explains that places like this have the perfect setting for startups to launch and succeed. All these nodes are part of a network, which guarantees you all kinds of necessary resources and anything you might need to make it. That’s why the result of making the same company in Silicon Wadi and any other country of the world without Israel’s ecosystem would be drastically different. So, be wise in picking the network you want to grow from.
Bonus tip. Get a head-start in future networks
According to Gigi, one of the most revolutionary networks coming into attention is bio-platforms, where data, machine learning, and biology come together to make headway in medicine. And we’ve already seen some examples of that with mRNA vaccines being developed during the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s safe to say that the industry will only accelerate there, and there’ll be dozens of startups charging into this territory and accelerating from each other’s success.
When talking about leading businesses, Gigi explains that there’s no one thing, no one recipe, but rather a lot of factors working together in a manner that produces this result. And the same goes for tech ecosystems. The beginning may be slow, but once you get the wheels turning, the compounding effect will emerge – and from one success, there’ll be others launching and following. However, the thing to remember here is that to have a great company, first – you have to be a great founder yourself. Giving up is not an option here. You have to forget that failure exists at all. After all, great businessmen don’t fail. They only pivot.