2014 was a critical year for the Israeli tech scene, proving once again that Silicon Valley has big competitions. It’s only January and 2015 is already bringing in major exits and multimillion dollar funding announcements. What’s most impressive about this innovation is that talented, young entrepreneurs are launching products that I can actually use in my own daily life.
Some of them are literally helping the world become a better place, allowing people to navigate and find information on the go, teams can communicate easily, everything’s becoming much more secure and website conversions are flying sky-high.
I wanted to hear from the people who are making this all happen, investors who have changed the entire high-tech community worldwide with their brilliance and financial investments. I sat down with 3 mega-investors to learn some big industry secrets and important lessons on regret, success and failure.
Meet Chemi Peres (Founder, Pitango VC), Modi Rosen (Founder, Magma VC) and Dov Moran (Inventor and Investor ). These 3 gentlemen were and are the heart – the reason – of some of the biggest startups to launch in the Israeli tech scene.
Left to Right: Chemi Peres, Dov Moran, Modi Rosen
Chemi Peres was an early adopter. After finishing his air force service as a fighter pilot, he completed his degree at Tel-Aviv University and was introduced into the world of high-tech. Peres saw potential for a bright tech future and in 1992, founded his first investment fund and later on founded Pitango alongside a few other businesses.
Modi Rosen’s professional experience began serving as a strategic advisor for big companies, learning about the communications field and the formation of technology businesses. In 1999, he founded Magma VC and recently expanded their business to the software and media arenas.
Dov Moran is known as the father of the USB flash drive that virtually everyone uses. After finishing his navy service, Moran founded his first startup, M-Systems with a few friends. It was a huge success, ended up being sold to Sandisk for 1.6 billion dollars. Then came Modu, a great idea that failed on the performance side. Since then, he’s been investing and been involved in 15 different companies.
Famous Investments in 2014
The things that struck me most, besides them finding the time to answer my questions, were their patience and quick-witted replies. We talked about their most famous investments; Modi Rosen saw big success from Waze and Onavo and Dov Moran’s was easy for him to choose; his baby, his first investment out of his own person property, M-systems.
At the time, they had no idea it would be sold for a large amount. Chemi Peres had a different approach for this question: “In our business culture the credit goes to the entire VC, rather than a single person,” he said.
In 2014, the trio all had reasons to be very proud of some of their investments. For Modi Rosen, two of his favorite investments in 2014 were Guesty, an Airbnb management service and AppsFlyer, the mobile analytics startup that has just raised an additional 20 million dollars. Dov Moran invested in Comigo - the “future of television” – a company that is expected to reach dozens of millions of dollars worth of sales.
Chemi Peres noted that he is most proud in investing in companies that “make the world a better place.” This is something we all easily lose sight on, I really appreciated him pointing this out. In 2014, he invested in 3 semiconductor startups and, for the first time, a company that combines internet and medical solutions.
While we spoke a lot about success, I wanted to dig deeper and hear about some of their regrets. I spoke to them about startups which had asked them for funding, but they had chosen not to accept – and those startups ended up succeeding massively. Modi Rosen had a clear memory of Intucell whom they didn’t accept and was later sold to Cisco.
Chemi Peres said that sadly, in most cases they need to turn entrepreneurs down and that they “try to be happy about existing investments, rather than regretting those that never took place.”
Dov Moran also doesn’t believe in regretting unfulfilled investments and added that, for various reasons, an investor sometimes turn startups down even though he thinks the idea is great.
Tips For Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur myself, I know how invaluable it is to make the best plan and approach towards your future investments in order to succeed and become profitable. My biggest takeaway from the interviews was from this engaging conversation.
Chemi Peres noted, “We want to see long-term commitment and thinking. You need to come prepared, with a clear vision and goals”. While Dov Moran provided a lesson that all of us might not want to hear, “You need to come with a vision that is based on facts, not dreams. Bring a presentation that we can’t resist and a clear business model. If you’re accepted you will be mentored and we will do whatever is needed for your product to succeed. But if it fails – you’re the first reason for it”.
Modi Rosen laid it out how it is: “You need to be professional; it’s hard to fake it. You need to be ready and sharp, as it will determine how your startup’s management is going to look like”.
Bottom line, you can’t fake it to make it. You have to have the drive, motivation, vision and clear goals if you want to make it in this industry, it’s not meant for dreamers, only doers.
The Personal Life Behind The Investments
While it was exciting to learn about their hopes, aspirations and dreams, I really wanted to get to know these guys on a more personal level, get to hear the good stuff. I asked them what average working day looked like and their answer was pretty unanimous, lots of meetings with potential entrepreneurs, due diligence processes, travel – a 3 to 4 part day. Chemi Peres even finds time for social activities in Israel.
And their hobbies, you’d never guess that Dov Moran enjoys playing 30 minutes of online bridge a day. He says it “challenges his mind and provides a great gaming experience, it teaches you the reality of a startup industry in a sense. You can fail one round and fix it in future rounds the next morning.” Chemi Peres loves reading, playing music, meeting new people and being creative.
Tech Trends of 2015
To wrap up my interview, I asked the trio for some insight of what trends they see dominating the tech scene in 2015.
Chemi Peres and Mori Rosen took an analytical approach on the matter. Peres believes that the new trend will be trying to be so innovative, that your company won’t even be able to have competitors, a trend we are already seeing happen. He predicts that the cyber, mobile, medicine and education markets will continue to grow.
While Modi Rosen agreed and added we will see more public clouds and crypto-currency such as Bitcoin dominating.
Dov Moran takes the in win stating that “Trends are lame. Everyone will try to avoid them”. He does have a good point there, doesn’t he?
I do believe that potential entrepreneurs have a lot to learn from this interview. Hearing insights, first-hand, from the investors that see so many entrepreneurs in any given month… does it get any better?
Some of them are literally helping the world become a better place, allowing people to […]