Israeli startup Taboola is growing from strength to strength. The recent news of a D Round of $15 million round led by Pitango and joined by previous backers Evergreen Venture Partners, WGI Group and Marker.
Taboola’s flagship product, EngageRank, suggests related videos users may click on, and helps publishers make more money from their existing content (a bit like Outbrain for videos…). With big clients names like CNN, Bloomberg and BusinessWeek, Taboola is now serving 1.5 billion content recommendations a day (!).
According to CEO Adam Singolda, the proceeds of the round are meant to support Taboola’s international expansion .VC Cafe asked Orel Hashmatia, an MBA intern from London Business School, to share with us her learnings from a summer with Taboola in London.
Taboola – My Summer Dream by Orel Hashmatia
Last summer I discovered first hand how different a startup environment is to a large corporate. Working in a startup requires a completely different mindset if one is to succeed. As the Director of Operations at Taboola’s European office, I learnt what is required to drive a fast-moving startup along the road to success. In particular I learnt that:
Speed matters more than precision:
Startups need to be fast and nimble. It is what allows them to be successful when competing against strong incumbents. Taboola has the leading technology for video discovery and recommendations, but the race is still on to see who could establish themselves first. In this environment sometimes making fast decisions is more important than making perfect decisions! To stay ahead you need to be lean, which means avoiding management layers or over-complicated processes.
Localisation matters as much as globalisation:
Everybody talks about the globalisation of business, and the tech space proves this more than any other. We’ve all seen many tech business models implemented into new geographies and very quickly succeed – just look at Amazon and YouTube; however behind that success is an operational minefield. Localisation requires a lot of work to deliver a seamless user experience. Taboola opening in Europe wasn’t just a matter of dragging and dropping infrastructure into place and expecting it to work, we did a lot of work adapting technologies, meeting local regulations and then hiring great people… which isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Results keep the wheels turning:
Bill Parcells said: “You don’t get any medal for trying something, you get medals for results.” And in a startup, like in sports, you learn this very quickly. Even more importantly, you learn that planning, consulting and drafting can only get you so far. What really matters are outcomes. All the time. Because you have a lot of people watching – your current investors, your next stage investors, your competitors, your bank, your business partners.
My time with Taboola was exciting, rewarding and enriching. I learned to adapt and apply my skills to a completely new environment, and have to admit that I loved it. In a startup more than anywhere else – you’re either fully in or fully out. There is no half way.
Culture can be a big differentiator for startups. It not only helps to attract talent, but also to get the most creativity and passion out of your existing talent. This story is as much about a great product (traction, retention and monetization) but also about how a company can take one intern for 3 months and get a great result for the startup and the intern. Taboola seems to be on the right way…
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