“It’s about time. You’ve been talking about it forever”
So much for encouragement. My friends have heard me talk about wanting to launch my new venture for way too long.
I guess they have a point.
Since moving to Silicon Valley in 2005, I knew I’d find a way of working at a place that combines my passion for start-ups, Internet/Software and Israel, but I just never quite found the right outlet.
Throughout the past 6 years, like many people I know in the valley, I’ve tried helping Israeli entrepreneurs as much as I could… From referring investors to startups I believed in, to making business introductions, to hosting people on the sofa in my — ehem — sparse apartment :-)
I was fortunate to work with Israeli entrepreneurs as part of my role at Yahoo!’s Corporate Development group, and I think that it has made me more aware of the challenges they are faced with. It was clear to me that Israeli entrepreneurs have a lot to offer and many have that special “entrepreneur DNA,” but at the same time, something was still missing. A few have written great pieces about this, highlighting what I think is the biggest obstacle: the distance from the US market during the early stages of the startup often inhibits their growth. It’s tough to truly understand and learn from your customers, establish meaningful partnerships, etc, when you’re half a globe away. And, with the pace of innovation accelerating, this challenge is just getting greater over time.
In parallel, new US-based accelerator programs have emerged, doing a fantastic job in helping entrepreneurs as they are making their first steps. Focusing these accelerator “mechanics” on Israeli entrepreneurs is at the core of my new venture, UpWest Labs. I believe that experiencing the intensive Silicon Valley environment through a “bootcamp” will be highly conducive to creating great businesses for many Israeli entrepreneurs. In particular, I feel that the folks who would benefit most from UpWest Labs are entrepreneurs who are:
* Great learners & implementers. The likelihood of the startup reaching product/market fit with the first version of its product is not high relatively low very low. Matching tenacity with an ability to pick up the right insights & constantly improve is critical to an evolving startup.
* Humble & supportive. Entrepreneurs should absolutely be confident, direct and true to themselves. However, in a small-class environment, working well with one another is pretty important, and I personally would like to help people that are great to work with. There’s obviously a business relationship between myself/UpWest Labs and the entrepreneurs, but I’d like to believe that the program graduates will also pay it forward and help other entrepreneurs.
Back in June I left my job to focus 100% of my time on this venture, while I’m still pre-kids & pre-mortgage :-) My partner in this venture, Shuly Galili, and I have spent lots of time thinking through the details and what we want to accomplish, and we’re very excited to get this going.
And indeed, it’s about time…