SigmaLabs’ model is built on the motto “For founders, by founders,” meaning that we believe in learning from experience and passing knowledge forward. SigmaLabs partners with successful founders from Israel’s booming hi-tech scene, defined by ambition and exits, and match them with early-stage startups that can grow and learn from the best. Ziv Elul, one of those founders, co-founded Inneractive in 2007 and served as its CEO. After Inneractive’s acquisition by Fyber N.V., Ziv was named CEO of the merged company, a publicly traded, 300 person organization, with 6 global offices and with a reach of over 1 billion monthly users.
The 4 key elements of success
With over 10 years of experience as an entrepreneur, Ziv identified 4 key elements he sees as crucial in building a valuable and successful company. Of course they are not the only important elements and will not necessarily be the same for all stages of a company’s life, but, in general, they represent the core values that can help founders navigate the many decisions they face.
“Don’t just make money, make something that is innovative, intricate, and hard to replicate from a technology standpoint,” says Ziv. “This will bring the most value over time because it’s scalable. Don’t count solely on the business model. Instead, invest in an innovative, cutting-edge product that will give you the legitimacy to price higher. This was a mistake that I, myself, made as a young founder, but I realized that without a sophisticated product, we have less of an edge. Therefore, we heavily invested in the development of technology. About 40% of our employees are in R&D, which is relatively high for a company our size.”
“Not all companies believe in making profits in their early stages,” says Ziv. “Many young companies focus on building scale and a broad user-base before thinking about their business model and how they will monetize (Facebook and Waze are good examples). Other companies lose money because they become infatuated with the idea of growth and further improving the product, continuing to raise funds from investors instead of stepping into an independent path.”
“You should always think ahead. If you think your current growth is sufficient and only focus on your current products, you will eventually fall behind. You must be innovative: think of the next step, consider where the market is going, and have a strategy that will position you for success.”
“’People’ doesn’t only mean your employees. It means your co-founders, your investors, the managers you recruit, and the overall DNA you create in your company.” In Ziv’s opinion, this is the most important factor of them all. “People are not a one-time investment but an ongoing one that can pay off a great deal in the future. The required skills from the people you hire may change in each stage of the company, but the DNA – the atmosphere and the culture – should be maintained throughout. Remember all these people will be the heart of the company and will have a major impact on its future.”
“People (in general) are scared to listen to their gut,” says Ziv “It is easy to rely on the advice of an investor, for example, because then you have someone to blame if something goes wrong. But the truth is that the founder probably knows best. He is most familiar with the market, with the trends, with the competitors and the clients. A founder should be open to many opinions and points of view and should definitely take them into account, but ultimately a founder should listen to his/her own intuition.”
This blog post was written together with Ziv Elul.
Thank you Ziv for being a mentor at SigmaLabs and helping startups grow!