Thoughts From The Front [CEO guest post]

Leading fron the frontGil Rozenberg – co-founder and CEO of Ineze.com, an early-stage technology startup based in Israel, shares his lessons learned on starting a tech startup for first time entrepreneurs. *** I must admit, it feels strange, even somewhat irresponsible, to sum up my entrepreneurial conclusions while being deep in the midst of the ride; Ineze, the product search company Koby and I founded some 3 years ago, has just recently launched its first product – mobile phone search, and begun gaining traction. In spite the fact that we’ve already made some nice achievements, and that the future looks promising, I know that our biggest challenges are still ahead. So, take my advice with a grain of salt and remember that someone else’s wisdom will only take you that far. Here’s my best advice for you, the first-time entrepreneur: 1. The more, the merrier Surround yourself with as many co-founders as you can. Of course, don’t exaggerate – managing more than 5 people will prove impossible at the early stage, but having more working hands and brains to storm will prove to be immensely valuable. If you are doing this on your own, I’d strongly recommend to go and find a co-founder (or two). I believe odd numbers are easier when handling conflicts, but that’s not a real issue – you can always add a trustworthy outside advisor who will make sure your board can always reach a decision. 2. Don’t seek investor money – build good relationships One of the most frustrating and time consuming aspects of being an entrepreneur is the constant chase for money. Someone else’s money, that is. Most likely that person will take their time deciding, even if they really like you and what you do. Very few and outstanding investors will actually say “NO”, most will leave an open door for future talks. Ineze had 2 periods of fundraising efforts; the first was straight after we released our alpha (mini-Seedcamp, Tel-Aviv) and the second is happening now, following our beta release. Those investors with whom I established good relationship and trust during the first round are my most probable candidates for getting involved now. So the next time you meet an investor, think long-term. 3. Don’t make a product – make a feature I wish Ineze was a one-feature startup. Seriously. That would make the coding, testing, pitching, launching… everything much easier. I used to mock those startups that invented a new button on your screen that does this one thing you could do with 2 buttons. I don’t anymore. Take Dropbox; It does one thing, and that’s probably why it does it so well. Focus. If your product has too many features you are really risking it not seeing the light of day. Ineze took some 3 years to get to the public. That’s too long. 4. When you look at the mirror, what do you see? You see your marketing team. You are the marketing team, and you will remain so for quite some time. Don’t hate it. Embrace it. I always used to think someone else would do the dirty work of marketing for me. Wrong. If you can’t sell your shit, no one else can. And the moment you’ll actually hire a marketing guy, you’ll be the one guiding him what to do. And another bit of advice here – I remember making those tasks Gantts, and placing the marketing just after the product development (I find that embarrassing to admit now). The right time for your marketing to start is on day 1 (as soon as you pick a name). 5. Good product is the best marketing Some people call that “the drug dealer” marketing approach – once you try it you can’t go back. In reality, very few products are so addictive. If they indeed are, it’s because the user has an authentic motivation to come back repeatedly (facebook) and/or will gain more value if he convinces his friends to use it too (Skype is useful only if your friends have it, so people actually forced their friends to download the app) or it just does what it claims better than anything else (Dropbox). If you believe you have this kind of product, marketing becomes a question of exposure. 6. Produce real content, don’t recycle. Most of the content on the web is recycled; retweeted, quoted, copy-pasted and so on. If you manage to create original, useful content on your site, people are more likely to return and spend time on your site. In my view, a single good blog-post is thousands of times better than any adword campaign. The benefit of adword campaigns is short – as long as you keep pouring money it will bring traffic. The benefit of a great blog post just grows with time – people will link to it, tweet about it, search engines will show organic links to it many years later. Original content is a true investment. 7. Not all trouble is bad news You might not realize that at first, but many kinds of trouble can be good news. Classic example: current infrastructure can’t handle the growing demand for your service. That’s fantastic news, by far the easiest to justify spending money on (or raising money for). Another classic: another startup is trying to do what you do. Why is that good? Someone else sees the need and business potential in your vision – that’s the best validation you could ask for. On top of that, I sincerely believe competition is good for business and usually there is space for more than a single player in a new market. Last one (here I’m quoting Koby): users are complaining about some feature. That’s good news – people actually care about what you do ;) Ok, that’s it for now. Dream big and work hard…

Eze Vidra
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Eze Vidra

Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote
Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Ezewas a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.
Eze Vidra
Follow me

Eze Vidra

Eze is the Chief Innovation Officer at Antidote, a startup helping patients search and match to clinical trial, to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Previously, Eze was a General Partner at Google Ventures Europe. Before GV, Eze founded and led Campus London, Google's first physical hub for startups, and was the Head Google for Entrepreneurs in Europe. He's an experienced product manager and startup mentor. In 2012 Eze founded Techbikers, a non-for profit supporting children education in developing countries.