Has COVID-19 Crisis Altered the Innovation Landscape?
30 42 THE STATE OF
Innovation AT THIS TIME OF
The Role of Mentors as Drivers of Innovation
Female Entrepreneurs are Becoming a Powerful Source of Innovation
Tal Berman Managing Partner, Rinnovation Group We celebrate together with you, our readers, the first ever issue of the Rinnovation Group’s Innovation Sage magazine. This magazine targets people who have made innovation their careers, be it inside a corporate or elsewhere. If, like us, you try to drive innovation daily, you will find this magazine will be your new home. This magazine will be delivered bimonthly and deal with current issues in the world of innovation. We will interview exciting figures and provide articles from well-respected opinion leaders. In this issue we tried our best to deliver on three very important themes: innovating in the time of the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of mentoring, and the state of female entrepreneurship. Warren Buffet once said, “Be greedy when others are fearful”. There is no better time to think about investing in innovation than at times of crisis. Obviously, you need to think about the existence and the safe continuance of your business, however, you should also consider investing in what ultimately may become your competitive advantage. A crisis is a problem by definition. Even when you are not affected directly by such a crisis, you are suffering from its indirect consequences. Taking the COVID-19 pandemic crisis as an example, even if you were not infected by the virus or if - God forbid - you were and thankfully recovered, surely by now you have experienced the economic standstill. The core of innovation is solving problems, therefore neglecting investing in it can hold you back when trying to recover your business and survive. World War II was a catalyst for many American corporates, like Jeep or Boeing. It is yet to be seen which corporates will get a boost from the current COVID-19 crisis. It does not have to be necessarily in the medical or healthcare fields, but it may be companies like ZOOM, who created the ultimate tool for assisting in a situation where millions around the world are working remotely. To sum up, many partners and potential clients are closing their pockets nowadays, trying to save costs and avoid further layoffs. However, for the sake of future growth investing in innovation should be excluded from these salvage plans.
CONTENTS An Interview with Yaron Saghiv, CMO at UVeye
COVID-19 as a Challenging Period for My Startup
10 COVID-19 has driven the most amazing thing: Innovation WHY SETTING UP AN INNOVATIVE CULTURE AT TIMES OF PROFUSION WOULD HAVE HELPED YOU SURVIVE THESE TIMES OF SCARCITY
Mentors and Us: Why is it Important to Actually Have a Mentor?
COVID-19 as a Growth Engine for my Startup
I Bet You Do!
50 More female founders? No, the way to gender equality in the field of innovation starts with more female GPs
THE WAKE-UP CALL OF ORCANOS
Mentors and Us: Why is it Important to Actually Have a Mentor?
An Interview with Prof. Dr. Daniel Schallmo, President at DEG
Mento-Ring: Seven Excellent Reasons for Choosing the Right Mentor
The Quest to a Practical Business Mentoring
Because Every Mother Can
INNOVATION INNOVATION SAGE
IN TIMES OF COVID-19 CRISIS
Adjusting on the go, a story of an
Automotive Startup trying to survive the
COVID-19 INNOVATION SAGE
An Interview with
Yaron Saghiv, CMO at UVeye
hese are challenging times for startups who have officially entered the growth stage. Such startups have negotiated contracts and even started their role as suppliers for multinationals that are now closing their pockets while trying to deal with the upcoming economic standstill. We have recently talked to Yaron Saghiv, the VP Marketing at Uveye, an automotive startup on the rise which has raised roughly $35 million to date, and found out what they have done to survive the recent pandemic crisis.
What is UVEYE? UVeye is an artificial intelligence startup which creates automatic and contactless inspection systems for vehicles. The company has two divisions: homeland security and the automotive sector. In the security market, the company installs undercarriage scanners all around the world in access points to places like embassies or border control checkpoints. The system detects threats like hidden bombs, contraband, and drug smuggling below a vehicle. In the automotive world, using computer vision an individual can drive their car over and through a system. Within seconds UVeye can detect anomalies like oil leakages, scratches, dents on the door, or missing air pressure in any of the tires. UVeye produces three devices that combine hardware and a software algorithm which can detect and expose any kind of exterior mechanical issue or safety threat related to any type of vehicle.
Where are you in the process and what are your future goals? UVeye is working together with six car manufacturers including VOLVO and TOYOTA and is the only startup to integrate new processes into the traditional manufacturing line. The company can also support use cases like rental agencies, insurance companies, repair shops, dealerships, bus, truck or delivery fleets, and more. In the recent months UVeye has expanded its activity to the US market and the next focus is setting up a team while working with some of the biggest aftermarket players in the US that affect any car driver like the yearly department of transport garages, repair shops, tire shops, and dealerships.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;THE COVID-19 crisis has changed some of the clients which we were due to work with immediately (mainly in Europe), but we adjusted quickly and adapted to assisting with remote installations.â&#x20AC;?
How did the COVID-19 situation affect the company and what did you guys do to persevere? It has changed some of the clients which we were due to work with immediately (mainly in Europe) - but we adjusted quickly and adapted to assisting with remote installations. We developed this skill which is a big advantage for the future. On the marketing and sales perspective we worked on exposing our brand and the addition of a newly developed fever detection sensor which can tell if drivers or passengers inside a vehicle have a fever. UVeye received some great publicity around that including an article in Forbes. We have also worked on infrastructure tools and product marketing for the new markets we are now entering.
Did your COVID-19 adjustments create new opportunities or allow you to penetrate new markets? How did the customers react?
Adding another sensor to our hardware got a great response from both industries we are working at and generated a good wave of PR. It did not necessarily create new markets but rather emphasised the importance of contactless inspection for vehicles during COVID-19 times and fit well into our main message of securing borders and facilities in the security market or finding mechanical issues in the automotive industry.
What is your position at the company and what are your responsibilities? How have you adjusted personally during these times? I lead all global marketing efforts for the company. I oversee a team that is responsible for: online content and website management, customer materials, value propositions, brochures, and product marketing research assistance for the different use cases in both the security and automotive industries. In addition, lead generation and creating new businesses for the company in offline and online channels. We stick the right foot out of the door and attract potential clients. The marketing team is the voice of UVeye and in charge of outward messaging.
Challenging times and crisis periods offer a unique opportunity for marketing departments and companies to regroup.â&#x20AC;?
Why is it important to innovate in times of such crisis? Challenging times and crisis periods offer a unique opportunity for marketing departments and companies to regroup. On one hand, plan ahead for future markets while working on infrastructure and, on the other hand, innovate and find approaches to get attention from the right stakeholders. I feel like we have done both very well during the last couple of months while still attracted new businesses and remained available to our clients. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you are quick to respond with the right solutions relevant to a crisis you can get some really good brand recognition.â&#x20AC;?
What did you guys learn as a company during this crisis and what have you learnt personally? I think that we have learnt that sometimes working remotely can even be better as a team and that although clients are struggling with budgets in certain periods - there is still a lot of work to be done. I have personally learnt that if you are quick to respond with the right solutions relevant to a crisis you can get some really good brand recognition.
COVID-19 as a Challenging Period for My Startup
Co-Founder & VP Sales at TourboApp
The Coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a total standstill, causing industries to fall, massive job and revenue losses, and taken the lives of hundreds and thousands. Will the world be strong enough to overcome this global catastrophe?
rom the very start, businesses were suffering and industries collapsed; however, few have fallen as far and as fast as tourism. Over the years the technological revolution has made booking a trip relatively simple and accessible to all, an innovation that has sustained one billion trips a year. This global pandemic has suddenly and unexpectedly shattered multinational tourism and smaller businesses to pieces. With data fluctuating on a daily basis due to the quick spread of the virus, we are unable to predict the extent of the damage, the amount of time recovery will take, or the consequences of that recovery. If the pandemic progresses for several more months, the World Travel and Tourism Council estimates a global loss of 75 million jobs and approximately $2.1 trillion in revenue. As the founder of Tourbo a TravelTech company in Israel, the Startup Nation, I can say that due to this pandemic, Israel has dealt with and approached the situation in a very well organized manner. Businesses were less affected than in many other countries in the world due to the immediate reaction, taking draconian measures that were extremely tough in the beginning however, in the long run, helped to open up the situation and bring things back to normal sooner than expected.
March and April are usually very profitable months for the tourism industry in Israel, as it covers both Passover and Easter. Flights were being cancelled to multiple destinations, quarantine restrictions set in place, and hotel occupancy rates dropped drastically. An expected increase in domestic tourism was a way to maintain positivity, however it does not come close to compensating for losses in revenue. As a relatively new startup we have and are continuing to overcome this tremendously difficult time in the best way possible. Tourbo is currently dealing with Israeli companies that are arranging for locals to visit all around the country, offering in-house travel solutions and activities for those unable to travel abroad. It will take time to shake fear away from people, as it has been inflicted so harshly, but we remain confident and optimistic regarding the future of our industry and hope to be able to offer all clients our services in the near future.
COVID-19 as a Growth Engine for my Startup
Max Simonovsky INNOVATION SAGE
Founder & CEO at Soapy
ack in a 2015 TED Talk, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, “predicted” what the next world war would look like. Back then, he was talking about the new era of epidemics and pandemics that is the future to come. He and his wife, Melinda Gates, decided to focus their philanthropic foundation, which is the biggest of its kind in the world for nurturing technologies, on 21st-century technologies to prepare humankind for that war: homo-sapiens against the micro world, humans against viruses and microbes. While the vision was clear, one of their primary missions was to find a solution for the sanitary challenges in different ecosystems in our lives. Jumping three years ahead, two entrepreneurs met behind their desk while studying for their MBA exams. Both impact-driven innovators living in Israel, Max (me) and Alex, decided to join this future war. Prevention forces became their new family. Fighting the new enemy through reinventing the hand hygiene concept, bringing it to the 21st-century tech era - a new future champion was born: Soapy. After two years of development and innovation, the first seeds started to blossom. July 2019 Forbes featured Soapy saying, “By Gamifying Hand Washing, Soapy Might Just Save Civilization.” Six months later, the war began: people in the People Republic of China found themselves locked in their homes, public transportation was not working anymore, and businesses were closing.
In few weeks, the front lines expanded rapidly. Now, it is everywhere: the world war is right inside our homes. Most of the world’s startup ecosystem found itself “convulsing” in fear and morbidity symptoms. Soapy is still at the front line, with new opportunities and thousands and thousands of further inquiries that are coming from all around the world, asking to order, lease, and try the new tech that was developed in Israel. People from more than 142 countries wrote directly to Soapy’s team asking to buy the new hand hygiene micro stations powered with computer vision, IoT, and AI capabilities. Restaurants, food productions, hospitals, private care clinics, elderly care facilities, private households, malls, airports, legal courts, and governments - and this is only the beginning. The human race has never been so aware of the importance of hand hygiene. Infection control is the new standard. In April 2020 Soapy was recognized globally in the top 5 of sanitation and disinfection technologies available on the market. Infection control and prevention tech are the new elite forces. Soapy is securing customers, expanding production capacity, securing investments, and strengthening its lines with a new specialist. We are ready to meet the new wave that is predicted by the WHO - the World Health Organization. Soapy is harnessing the hurricane of new opportunities flying forward stronger than ever before.
Why did the
COVID-19 Crisis become a Catalyst for
Global Digital INNOVATION SAGE
An Interview with
Prof. Dr. Daniel Schallmo Prof. of Digital Transformation & Entrepreneurship at HNU
ome corporates are still lacking the ideal digital solutions and proper tools. Digital transformation is a buzzword we keep hearing and since it is so trendy, many managers are keen on doing something about adding this concept to their organizations. A world expert in that field, Prof. Dr. Daniel Schallmo, has been an evangelist of this topic, providing research, teaching methods, and personal guidance for managers, students, and others. We asked him a few questions about how the current crisis affected the topic of digitalization in his respected opinion.
What is digital transformation? There are many definitions for this phrase. If I shall put on my practitioner’s hat for a moment then it is the process of companies and institutions moving from a low level of digital presence to at least a moderate level. Within this process one may find the very important concepts of change management, organizational management, teamwork, and much more. Certain methods may accelerate this process, such as the use of technological digital tools or applying new managing techniques.
In my research, my team and I have created a complete roadmap for this digitalization process starting with an analysis of the business model: is it actually working? What is the company’s potential? How to learn from best practices? Then we move on to what are the objectives for the digitalization process? We start planning based on all of the above to make it eventually transform. Managers must remember that this is a long term process as it starts with a way of thought, a change of the mindset, not only for them but also for their entire workforce.
“Managers can either choose to react to changes in the business environment, the customers’ requirements, the competitors ways of conducting businesses, and how COVID-19 changed entire markets or industries, or not.”
Why is going through this process important for corporates?
Many things have changed in recent years. The environment has changed, customers’ requirements have changed, the way the competitors conduct their businesses has changed, and now, with the COVID-19 situation,
the entire market has probably changed. Therefore, managers can either choose to react or not. During my time of advocating and teaching digital transformation I have come across three types of managers: 1. The ones who are actually doing nothing. They developed this concept that digital transformation is nothing but
a trend, and they truly believe it is not important as they do not recognize the value and the potential. 2. The ones who are eager to try out new things, and at this moment of the crisis are panicking. They are keen to move on but lack the direction. They want to show people, especially their customers, that they are really moving forward with that transformation. These guys are usually not doing the right things and eventually fail. 3. Only a number of 10-15% have a plan, an infrastructure, a distribution of responsibilities, and are truly transforming in a structured way. Unfortunately, sometimes they are a little too structured for their own good. If I look at the difference between the Israeli business culture and the German, for instance, in regard to being structured vs. being chaotic, I will say that the golden path is the balancing between these two cultures. But to sum up this group, they are truly trying to yield the advantages of digitalization, such as saving time and money, reduce risk levels, and more. Let us take GE as an example, they have upgraded the traditional aircraft engines and made them intelligent, thus transforming their
value proposition to their customers. They now sell a complete tool for airline management. They are selling the benefits of cost reduction, for instance, by reducing the amount of unnecessary routes. These kind of companies will be more competitive in the long run surely as they are producing a valid competitive advantage this way.
How do you consider your role in digital transformation? I actually see two roles. The first one is that we teach companies and students this topic. We mainly enable them to change their mindset. The second role is the research we conduct. I tend to combine both, the practical and theoretical, in order to come up with reliable results. I call this hybrid role a “practitional researcher”, meaning we are not purely doing research, but we are trying to deliver a certain value to the market. We mostly enable corporates, students, and many other people to practice digital transformation in a proper way by learning and implementing the tools we have developed.
“Companies started to get creative and ultimately productive even more so then before. Generally speaking, we have leapfrogged this past three months in digitalization more than the past three years.”
How did the COVID-19 situation effect corporates on a global scale?
If I analyze the last three months I can definitely see several phases. In the first phase people went into a kind of shock and froze completely. They tried to understand what this situation was really all about, how long it was going to last and how they were supposed to cope with it, and so they decided to postpone almost everything. You have no idea how many people have heard the answer: “We will meet next month…” during that phase. Then as they recognized this is probably going to last longer than a month or two, they all moved to the second phase. In that phase they realized they must be active and actually started to get creative. They changed the way of communicating in and out of the company, they changed some products and even introduced new ones and they changed the ways of production. So, to sum up, not only did they become a lot more creative as I explained, but also they became a lot more productive even more so than before. They realized the advantages of implementing new technologies, and of new ways of communication like webinars. This way of work became normal, meaning the understanding that “agility is key” has assimilated. Generally speaking, we have leapfrogged this past three months in digitalization more than the past three years because we were forced to do so. People no longer require
a personal meeting, even if it is easier, I mean I would rather have this interview over a glass of wine in a café somewhere, however, people saw that meeting virtually actually works great. Personal meetings will not disappear, but people will meet virtually in addition. So, you claim that COVID-19 was an actual catalyst for digital transformation and innovation… Absolutely. I mean do not get me wrong, this crisis hurt many industries and companies all around the world. I am very active in and aware of the automotive industry, which is really big where I live in Germany, and trust me when I say that they are struggling. However, we cannot avoid the fact that this crisis drove digital transformation forward. Four weeks ago, one could not buy a simple headset, either they were out at the big online retailers or the delivery time was ridiculously long. Nowadays, everyone has one. All of us know all the online communication tools like WEBEX, ZOOM, Skype, etc. We all know how to better behave at a big online conference, i.e. doing small things like turning off the mic, things we were not aware of just a few months ago. I remember the first meeting I had with my colleagues online, it was totally chaotic, nobody knew how to turn on their cameras and mics, nobody knew how to maintain a valid network connection and many other technical issues we faced. Now it comes naturally and that is a great thing.
“The companies who were well prepared have learnt that digitalization works. They managed to harness the potential of digital transformation and move forward to become more productive, even in the face of adversity.” What are the main lessons, in your opinion, that corporates and managers have learnt during this crisis in regard to digital transformation and innovation? Let us take the supply chain as an example. People have learnt that they are more reliant on others than they thought or like to be. Some companies had no chance to produce anything since this chain was suddenly cut out. Specifically, about digital transformation many corporates found out they are not at the level they should have been, meaning they were unprepared. They lack the infrastructure, the programs, the technical tools, like even laptops and headsets for their employees, who all of the sudden had to work remotely from home. On the contrary, the companies who were well prepared have learnt that digitalization works. They managed to harness the potential of digital transformation and move forward to become more productive, even in the face of adversity. On a more general managerial level, managers learnt that they need to trust the skills and abilities of their employees. I recognized that by interviewing and talking to many leaders in large corporates. Now they understand the concept of letting go, they do not need to control their employees so much. For instance,
they cannot be with them at each and every virtual meeting and therefore, they started briefing them in the morning and in the next going over the results and status of yesterday’s tasks. Ultimately you can easily notice that the trust level increased.
Have the relationships with the customers changed anyhow? The customers themselves understand many of the concepts we have discussed during the interview. They are also less reluctant to hold meetings virtually. I personally know some salespeople who, in the past, had to travel all the way from Bavaria to Frankfurt or even Hamburg just for a two hour face-to-face meeting. That was completely unnecessary since, if you look at it objectively, a full day was wasted on traveling back and forth. Again, I must emphasize that more users join the remote communication applications I have mentioned before each and every day, and therefore you can spot these companies’ valuations climb at the stock exchange. The reason for that is the acceptance of this new reality. One more thing that the customers have learnt to live with are issues with availability of people, and new working processes that have been implemented lately.
Even established startups are finding ways to adjust their products or develop new ones.
Looking at the new reality with COVID-19, do you recognize new opportunities for startups? I do. Let me give you an example, there is a new German startup which is currently developing a new stylish separation modules for restaurants. Soon restaurants all over the world will reopen under strict stipulations of social distancing, wearing facemasks, and others, which may hurt the eating out experience we all love. So, these guys have developed nice separation booths, which look really good and bring back the experience we may miss due to the stipulations mentioned. Moreover, you see that even established startups are finding ways to adjust their products or develop new ones. I do pity the ones who cannot adjust and struggle. Some of their current or potential customers perhaps have no resources to try new technologies, and even the ones who do, the situation makes it impossible to work with. For example, you choose as an entrepreneur to not show a live demo because it will not be the same if you try to do it remotely. Sometimes a personal meeting is really a must.
How do you think the post-COVID-19 world is going to look, especially in terms of digitalization and innovation? That is the million dollar question I suppose. I am not so sure I can answer such a question, but I will try. If I may start with a philosophical point of view, nowadays we appreciate many professions a lot more than we used to, I am not even talking about medical doctors or nurses, but the mailman or the cashier at the local grocery store. I hope that such a high level
of respect will remain. In regard to digital transformation, we were at one extreme and now we are at another. We were stressed people, who used to travel a lot and run between meetings, and now we are staying at home and attending mostly virtual meetings or events. We will have to find the balance between these two somehow, taking the positive things out of both. Lastly, we will have to remain open and try new things, not because we have to but because we know it is good for business. For example, teaching my students virtually under the restrictions of COVID-19 I needed to find new tools in order to do my job well. I found a new virtual whiteboard solution called MURAL. More people will need to be creative like I have and find tools which make their lives and jobs easier.
COVID-19 has driven the most amazing thing
Liran Mor, Contributor
Director of “Cloud” and Innovation at Taldor-XGlobe
he COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly influenced the lives of most people on the planet. Whether going for lunch at a restaurant or just taking a stroll down the street, being out of the house would have been perceived as something that is normal and ordinary. Today things have changed completely. In an effort to save as many lives as possible, entire states have imposed a complete lockdown and have required non-essential workers to work from home. The actions taken may have saved lives but have greatly damaged the economy of the countries. Fortunately, humans are survivors and from this crisis they began to reinvent themselves. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, innovators are jumping in to help. Around the world, beermakers and distilleries have shifted production to hand sanitizers. In Italy, a startup engineering company began quickly using 3D printers to create the valves used in ventilators. Those just-in-time valves are saving lives.
Crisis demands movement and change – the pace of ideation, decision making, and implementation all increase dramatically. An organization that normally gets trapped in what Larry Clark coined “the intense study of the obvious” now must force itself to quickly create experiments, see what happens, and experiment some more. This process of experimentation allows the freedom to test different thinking, fail fast, learn, and move forward – in short, to innovate. But there is much more to the generative nature of a crisis that leads to innovation than simply an opportunity to solve problems. Crises present us with unique conditions that allow innovators to think and move more freely to create rapid, impactful change. For learning leaders, these conditions provide us with the opportunity to do our best to help, and for our teams to do their most innovative work in the service of our organizations. There is no certainty about when the coronavirus crisis will slow down or end, or how we will be impacted. But if we use it wisely as an opportunity for innovating, learning, and growing, we will know that, once it is over, we have done our best and tried to make some good come out of it.
AT TIMES OF PROFUSION WOULD HAVE HELPED YOU
SURVIVE INNOVATION SAGE
THESE TIMES OF SCARCITY
Eran Shlingbaum Rinnovation Group
anaging the uncertainty is one of the biggest challenges managers and organizations may face. The COVID-19 crisis is categorised as an uncertainty by all means. The Black Swan Theory by Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes a mega event like the COVID-19 as one which cannot be predicted by any of the risk management scenarios in most industries. Who could have predicted just six months ago that such an epidemic would shut down the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest economies? Although the signs were there back in January it was hardly considered as such a threat. Thereafter, when the results of the crisis sunk in, the need to make fast adjustments became a necessity. Alas without it, companies would probably have not survived. at the end of the day, making such fast adjustments relies strongly on a deep innovative culture which the organization should have created prior to the event. It is far too early to tell which corporates will end up stronger after the fog clears and which, unfortunately, go down the gutter. One thing is certain: the corporates who established strong foundations for innovation will probably adjust faster to the new reality.
For instance, implementing digital transformation assisted many corporates to shift their employees to work remotely and create more sales opportunities, sometimes even more than before. Let us take the Israeli unicorn Kornit Digital as an example. They were pioneers in using digital printing in the fashion industry. Their innovative solution for digital printing on clothes changed the entire value chain of apparel brands and manufacturers, and their process of delivering their goods to retailers. monday.com, another Israeli unicorn, is one more example of this trend. This software startup assists corporates and their personnel to manage virtual teams and internal projects remotely. The corporates who have implemented their solution adjusted easily to the crisis and, in some cases, also managed to keep their productivity at a high level. In both cases, the market valuation of these companies skyrocketed. To sum up, corporates which prepared innovative solutions well in advance have managed to deal with the COVID-19 crisis to the best of their abilities, whereas others who woke up and reacted late found lots of difficulties during these challenging times. Bottom line, innovation must be a core value for every corporate as neglecting to develop it may harm the chances for creating real sustainability.
WAKE-UP CALL OF
An Interview with
VP Sales & Marketing at ORCANOS Software
he COVID-19 situation has changed the world of sophisticated technological products dramatically. The first thing that comes to one’s mind when thinking about technology is that it is the definition of progress. However, once in a while there comes a card shuffling event and the same association no longer correlates. We have sat with Rami Azulay a longtime software salesperson and tried to understand what future the world of technology is marching to.
Who is Rami Azulay and what is your background? Rami Azulay is an accomplished professional and entrepreneur who holds a bachelor’s degree from UNH and a master’s degree from the same university. After a career in major high tech companies like AMDOCS and COMVERSE, powerhouses of software development services, I cofounded Orcanos, together with my colleague and best friend from my days at AMDOCS, Mr. Zohar Peretz. Orcanos is a SAAS company of compliance lifecycle management, it is a platform that is flying off the internet at many blue-chip vendors like GE, J&J and Medtronic.
What is ORCANOS?
The company is no longer in its infancy: Orcanos is a classic example for a bootstrap company that, without raising funds, managed to bring onboard over 60 worldwide vendors from the Medical Device and Automotive industries using Orcanos Compliance Lifecycle Management (CLM) platform. Orcanos processes its clients’ data and produces it in a form which an auditor or regulated body, such as the FDA, can accept and inspect. Its unique technology provides Realtime Virtual Auditor (RVA) assessment capabilities which save millions on behalf of clients.
How did the COVID-19 crisis change the world as we know it? The first thing we noticed is the reduction in spending on IT. Companies will put on hold any infrastructure projects and will keep the current state for some time longer. On the other hand, we noticed an increase in moving into a cloud solution due to the rapid change in the average worker workspace, moving from office to home office. Our marketing strategy moved us from presence in physical events to complete internet marketing and video conferencing on a daily basis. The hiring process stopped completely and now there is a reassessment on the offerings the talent market now brings with it. The demand for more AI talents has increased so there is a shift of expertise into that domain. More importantly in regard to what Orcanos is doing, regulation has moved into remote auditing since Jan 2020 and that opened new opportunities to both our clients and us. Another change that is now happening is the practice of work in distributed teams which brings the use of more collaborative tools. I see in this time also a WAKE-UP CALL for all of us and an opportunity to think outside the box, replacing old concepts with new ones.
Which business areas have been most affected and why? The first affected were the travel and hospitality industries. The sky was shut down and that basically killed all small and medium travel agencies since there is a huge commitment for commission across airlines, hotels, and agencies that was lost. The other area that has suffered most is the food and entertainment sector. Restaurants could not work at their usual capacity and all service providers to the entertainment market such as artists, performers, etc. canceled all their plans. Unfortunately, they will also be the last
ones to come back. There is a fear out there, and as long as there is no vaccine to COVID-19 it will take much longer time to recover.
Why did some companies succeed in this crisis while others miserably failed? This whole event was something that no one has ever experienced before. The information which came out was not accurate and the time it took people to realize what has actually happened for many it was too late. Those who had access to knowledge directly from China through informal channels were able to respond immediately. Others were still acting normally, and ultimately spend more of their financial reserves. Hightech companies that had a cloud-based solution and whose office and employees were virtually working from remote locations were ready to make changes quickly. Others, however, which are based on commodities such as manufacturing companies or OEMs were not so lucky and got hit very hard. Plants had to shut down almost completely. The launch of new products was suspended and the cycle was collapsing. From Orcanosâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; perspective, we have seen that companies that were relying on a paper-based system found it very difficult to operate their organizationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s regular activity, whereas companies set with electronic systems found it easy to shift from office to homeoffice, both in R&D and Quality.
What kind of new future should we expect? There is no doubt that the world will forever change by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, as a business, we believe this is just a phase that will help us prove our commitment to our clients.
To get through this period, businesses regardless of their sector - have to revise their entire strategies and approach of the way they serve their clients. Moreover, it is crucial that the lessons from this crisis be used to keep building better solutions when it is all over.
Looking at Israel specifically, did the business sector manage to deal with the crisis as well as the medical sector? There is a big difference between the medical sector and regular businesses. The medical sector enjoys long term relationships with its investors, customers, and its entire market. The time it takes to deliver a medical device to the market requires large investments that can smooth a bit the impact of 2-3 months of lockdown. On the other hand, a business that is based on strong face-to-face transitions, which has no other ways to deliver their product faced a more difficult situation. It will be interesting to see how this will turn consumers, as well as service providers, to make sure they have a portion of their business rely on a low friction sales cycle.
What morals and lessons should the business world take from the COVID-19 situation and crisis? We at Orcanos Ltd. understand the importance of delivering excellent service and maintaining a stellar reputation despite the pandemic. Hence, we are here to provide our clients with the right tools to build their next medical device, new technology, or automotive tech through our EQMS & Design Control service. It is time to restructure your business, set new goals, and take brave actions.
Mentors and Us:
Why is it Important to Actually Have a Mentor?
ne of the most talked about subjects in creating innovative ecosystems which support entrepreneurs and startups is the importance of mentors. We hear this term quite a lot outside of the entrepreneurship realm as well. Why is it important for every entrepreneur, whether novice or repeat, to have one? We sat with Or Hiltch, who is a mentor at AWS (Amazon Web Services) for startups programs, and discussed in detail that subject and more.
First of all, let us discuss the current COVID-19 situation. What is it like to run a startup these days? An interview with
Co-Founder & CTO at Skyline AI
This is a challenging time. The toughest task is to manage people who work from home and make sure they work effectively. Not a whole lot has changed from the pre COVID-19 actually. Our main offices are in Manhattan and we are spread across continents, therefore we are very much accustomed in operating virtually. However, I will not say that these are not turbulent times for any business. We obviously had to adjust to this new situation.
Tell us a little about your entrepreneurial journey. I cannot say I began my career as an entrepreneur. I have been around computers ever since I got my first one at the age of 5. I wanted to play games, but everything was in English and there was no user interface. Back then you actually had to type commands. One of my neighbors was a computer engineer for Intel and so whenever I messed things up and damaged my PC he would come over and fix it for me. I started programing at a very young age. My first job ever was working for an internet gaming portal where I would write about videogames. I did almost everything except for the professional technical work. Fast forward to about a decade later, I quit my job as an R&D manager for the Union Bank of Israel. I decided to join a startup, which was co-founded by three amazing entrepreneurs, who later became my partners. I wanted to learn on the job how to be an entrepreneur and my intuition was that these were the right guys to learn that from. This startup was sold, and I co-founded, together with them, my first ever startup, StreamRail, which was acquired by IronSource. Now we are working on our current startup together, Skyline AI.
What is Skyline AI? Skyline AI is an AI asset management company. We partner with global real estate institutions to establish investment vehicles that are augmented by artificial intelligence. In the past, asset managers would do well by exploiting their networks; in order to find a good investment they would first start analyzing from the top, meaning they would analyze a continent, then drill down to a country, a region and so on so forth. Thereafter, they would use a local agent to partner with and find the best investment
they possibly could. So, one day after we sold our previous startup, our team tried to invest in real estate, mainly in multifamily property in the US. As technological people we looked at the investment process in another way. We scanned the entire country and assets and found that we can compare these and ultimately make predictions about how they would perform in the future. We would find unbelievable potential in assets which were not even listed, so we would approach the owner and outperform the market, thereafter we developed an algorithm which does exactly that. It scans the entire list of assets - even the ones which are unavailable. Our company is at the overlapping point where real estate and data science interact.
What is the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s status? Where are you at in the process? Between seed money and series A funding round we have managed to raise roughly $25 million, so we are entering the growth stage right about now. We have about 40 employees between the US and Israel and we manage an asset portfolio of $100 million.
What are your future plans? The COVID-19 situation has slowed us down obviously, but we continue as planned. AI startups are looking at historical data to find anomalies in them. For instance, one of our biggest US clients is a fund that looks for distress opportunities, meaning they continuously looking for troubled assets and monitoring their current assetsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; status vs. their true potential. This is going very well for us and therefore much of our investment vehicles for the upcoming year or so would revolve around these types of offerings. At the moment we are, as mentioned, involved mainly in multifamily assets, but we will try to expand to others, such as offices.
You have founded a community for CTOs called the Tel Aviv CTO Club, what is it? I founded this club together with my great friend Shimon Tolts. Shimon has attended a meetup of a CTO club in San Francisco and truly enjoyed that. He then recognized the true value that these gatherings bring to fellow CTOs. He approached me and offered to do something similar in Tel Aviv. The Tel Aviv CTO club is relatively small as it is limited to a strict type of people. Not because we are picky but due to the fact we are looking for experienced CTOs who are also co-founders. There are exceptions to that rule, especially if an active member recommends somebody who can contribute to the rest of the members with his or her
experience. The club is basically a safehouse where CTOs can share their dilemmas; for instance, one of the dilemmas, which is constantly brought up lately, is “how can I cut on the manpower in this time of crisis without hurting the daily activities?”. There are many kinds of CTOs, it is a very large spectrum. On one hand, you have the guys who micromanage their teams, they would have daily meetings with their team, a true high level leaders. On the other hand, you would find guys who are more on the innovation side of the court. They constantly try to develop their product. I would say that they are really very good engineers, probably the best engineers in their company who happen to also be part of the co-founding team.
“When searching for a CTO you need to reflect whether you want a co-founding partner or just somebody who will take care of all technical issues.” It is very difficult to find CTOs nowadays for a startup. What are your tips for a more efficient search for one?
The first thing you need to reflect on is whether you want a co-founding partner or just somebody who will take care of all technical issues. A co-founding partner requires a totally different set of qualities. My biggest tip is not to look for a CTO but aim towards a hungry gifted engineer who shares the same vision as the rest of the team. Try to level up with the person so you could better explain yourself and appear more serious as you engage with them. Try your best to find out what this person is capable of.
How do you think the role of the CTO has changed in recent years? A CTO is traditionally the first programmer and that is actually still the case. However, today the role of the CTO, especially a cofounding CTO, is much more commercial. You need somebody in your team who is also a technical salesperson. Someone has to convince the customer about the superior technology your product is offering. Now when most startups are outsourcing - the CTO is actually the technological face of the startup a lot more than the one who is actually writing the code. Same goes for when the startups meet with investors to raise money: he needs to convince them that the product works well and, again, is superior to that of the competitors.
“I would find myself analyzing how that person thinks about a certain subject because his thought process was truly amazing.”
You serve as a mentor for entrepreneurs in various programs, such as the AWS Hero program. Can you tell us more about what a mentor is in your opinion? A mentor is someone who inspires you. That, for me, is the most important thing. Looking back to times when I had mentors, I know now I needed them to inspire me mostly. I used to work at this company where there was this amazing guy on my team. It is not like he spent too much time with me, but I remember monitoring the way he works and does things. I would find myself analyzing how that person thinks about a certain subject because his thought process was truly amazing. I used to see how he manages the people in the team and that made me want to be just like him.
Should a mentor be someone who works in the same role as you do? Variety helps no doubt, however, I would suggest you find a mentor who at least used to do the same thing you are doing at the moment. You want to learn from the success of another who, at some point in their career, used to walk the same path as you do. For instance, think about yourself as a novice pianist. You would most probably not follow the footsteps of a violinist, right? Hence you would be better to follow someone who may not be a master pianist but at least was a successful one at some point. You could probably learn a lot from the violinist as well, but you will learn a lot more from a fellow pianist.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;You will always find somebody who is better than you at something and you want to stay close to these people and let them help you get better at what you do.â&#x20AC;? Why should entrepreneurs even have mentors? I think it is a goal for any entrepreneur to keep improving themselves. You strive to become better at what you do and a source of inspiration does exactly that. If you have this compass, who used to be like you, they will surely help you achieve that goal. You will always find somebody who is better than you at something and you want to stay close to these people and let them help you get better at what you do.
Can you share with us some of your success stories as a mentor? My role at AWS is a machine learning hero. I mentor and also provide technical guidance. One session I had with someone who actually stands out is when I was helping this company improve the internal communication between their data science
and machine learning team and their business team. I did this by helping them create a platform which enables the data team to become more freestyle before things become production ready. It was more of a mentality change with a technical flavor.
What is the best tip you have received from a mentor? It may be a clichĂŠ but work hard. That was the best. Nowadays, between my family and my career, I am much more efficient. However, it was not always like that. For instance, people in China work very hard from 9AM till 9PM six days a week, I used to work as hard before I had a family. I did that out of my own motivation and because I like what I do.
Why Should Each of Us
Galit Zamler, Contributor Co-founder at Galiel 3.14, Vickathon, and TomorrowSuccess
oday, more than ever, there is a realization that entrepreneurial skills are essential to each and every one of us. No matter how good you are in your profession, without skills from the entrepreneurial arena, it will be harder for you to succeed.
So what kind of skills are we talking about? There are many, and the more you have the easier it will be for you to embrace changes, make decisions, take risks, and thrive in a changing environment.
This time I chose to focus on four skills: Optimism - This is one word that has great meaning. Optimistic people will find an opportunity when they tackle a difficulty. They will also allow themselves to experience new challenges which they believe they can handle. The optimistic people think they can change reality, and therefore they are motivated to be proactive. Listening to others - People who listen to others learn from them, and thus evolve. Those people also learn about othersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; needs. There, sometimes, lays an opportunity for a project or service that can be provided and that will make them stand out from the competitors.
Creativity - An essential skill for all of us. Some attribute creativity to the ideation stage only. In practice, creativity is required at all stages of entrepreneurship and for anyone who wants to be unique, add value, and grow. Creative people can cope with challenging situations and turn them into valuable ones. Determination - One of the most important qualities of success in every field of life. It is easy to see it in the world of sports. Those who persevere, increase their chances of achieving highs when compared to those who may be gifted by nature but not persistent. Sometimes it seems that people who have succeeded made it easy, but, if you look in-depth, you find that in most cases those people have faced challenges and demonstrated a lot of determination. As people in a lifelong learning process, we can strengthen these skills. Awareness of these is a good start.
Seven Excellent Reasons for Choosing the Right Mentor
Doron Simhi CPA, Contributor Growth Hacker, Business Model Expert and Mentor
ne of the most important tasks in our entrepreneurial journey is to know how to create real value which will contribute at every stage of our growth. One of the factors that contributes high value to entrepreneurs is the mentoring process as a good mentor is essential for expediting your personal and professional skills. Seven ultra-important things to consider before you start working with a mentor are:
Try to sense their honesty and passion. Talk to them a few times before making a decision and reflect whether their motive for this process is to grow and support you, and not an economic one.
This is the real deal. A good relationship is based on a listening ability and the providing of a positive feedback. A good mentor will lead you to an effective conversation.
The right size It is very important to prepare your expectations in advance. What kind of value can he or she give you in exactly those areas you need assistance with and, of course, what kind of capabilities, qualifications and relationships of a quality mentor should suit your target.
Good vibes I am pretty sure your potential mentor has already left his or her mark along the way in the startup ecosystem, so go ahead and find them. It is recommended to read and learn about them in databases such as websites, and also about their involvement in accelerators, hackathons, contests, etc.
Learning A mentor is there to provide you a knowledge he or she gained from his or her experience and expertise. It is up to you to make use of it.
Expert time Your mentor should fulfill two main roles: 1. The mentor fits into the (professional) field of your startup so they could actually take the role of an expert. 2. They can undoubtedly contribute a great deal of value in one of the organizational functions: financial, legal, technological, patenting, etc.
Availability Time is the most valuable resource. The entrepreneurial world has a constant â&#x20AC;&#x153;competitorâ&#x20AC;? which is time. We want to be first movers and in minimum time, therefore it is important to make sure your mentor has the much needed availability and is ready to commit long-term.
There are so many great and professionals mentors in the startup ecosystem and, just like in an ordinary relationship between spouses, it sometimes takes a while to find your other half but, in the end, it pays off.
The Quest FoR a
Sharon Gilran Nuriel & Inbar Sivan Bram, Contributors Co-Founders & Co-CEOs at Innovation Channel
owadays, the ability of startups to grow their business depends massively on its foundersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; knowledge and resources to scale up, generate and manage meaningful relationships with prospective customers that will eventually lead to their satisfaction. As a business or a product at its early stages, one of the most important things to identify where your customers are located. Founders must discover what are the pains and needs that your solution can solve and relieve to those customers. As you search you should also gather enough feedback to keep improving your product and your understanding of how much these customers are willing to pay for it. To do so, you need to engage with as many potential customers as possible and to be able to facilitate a smart dialogue so you can understand their pains and needs while defining the value of your solution. This process of product discovery is also known as the product solution fit phase. Although a very crucial stage for every new product, it is usually experienced as lengthy, exhausting, and frustrating one which demands many resources and lots of energy. Sharing from our experience, most early-stage startups do not have the capacity or resources to manage their early GTM (go to market) successfully, although this is often the huge chasm between success and failure. We believe that the scaling up phase needs to be managed in a very professional manner and that the founders should be very much involved as this is where the most important learning occurs, in particular the sales process and the values of the product.
Mentoring can be very helpful to accelerate learning and streamline processes while improving the outcomes. The competency and experience of managing fruitful relationships with customers can only be found in highly skilled business development professionals. However, the cost of such executives is usually unaffordable for startups in their early stages. Even though mentorship is a known service within the startup eco-system, when exploring alternative ways for your startupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s GTM, we would advise you to consider a more practical handson approach; collaborate with experts and work together to shorten your time to market. For instance, a framework which is based on a business model per success milestones is much more relevant in this stage to enhance transparency, trust, impact, and collaboration. Do not get discouraged, on the contrary, senior professionals are actually looking to get a significant value from working with startups: impact, recognition, knowledge, monetization and more. Mentorship is one of the outcomes of such a process not the main one. It is only a means to an end. By underlining a practical framework of collaboration that encourages both sidesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; engagement in the process to deliver measurable results, both sides will achieve more meaningful learning, growth, and success.
More female founders? No, the way to
in the field of
starts with more female GPs
An Interview with
Daria Henig Shaked Founding Managing Partner at WeAct Ventures
or many years Daria Henig Shaked has been a pure voice for promoting gender equality in the fields of entrepreneurship and innovation in Silicon Valley. Serving as a valuable enabler, many female entrepreneurs found her assistance as a useful key for success. We have managed to pick her brains and find out whether anything has changed in terms of numbers, valid opportunities, and other trends.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your actions to promote female entrepreneurs. I founded WeAct in 2016, an international community of 3,000 female entrepreneurs focused on promoting equality in innovation. I have led three delegations of female entrepreneurs from Israel to Silicon Valley aiming at giving them access, knowhow, and networks to grow their companies. The results were amazing with one company sold to Apple, many fund raisings, and the attraction of numerous new clients. However, I have realized that a change will only come when the investors layer would have more gender diversity. It was then that I have decided to create WeAct Ventures, an LP (limited partnership) entity which aims to invest in the most promising VCs with a strong belief that experienced women GPs (general partners) who are leaving their current position to start their own funds, are highly motivated and perfectly positioned to outperform the market. WeAct Ventures was founded in 2018, has raised capital and made two investments in 2019 in the most oversubscribed, women led VCs in Silicon Valley.
Women had been known to show better results using smaller funds, so this group seem to be better prepared for the new reality. Do you feel the world is changing; on one hand, in accepting and respecting female entrepreneurship and, on the other hand, in more women taking the entrepreneurial path? Before COVID-19, I definitely saw a significant growth in the number of female entrepreneurs and in the number of women investors creating and raising new funds. I felt these were both very positive trends. The numbers speak for
themselves, women GPs in the industry grew from 8% to 11%. Unfortunately, it seems that the crisis hurt both groups significantly. As uncertain times cause conservative behavior, players will more easily turn unfortunately to the more mainstream sectors and founders as well as GPs. On the other hand, women had been known to show better results using smaller funds, so this group seem to be better prepared for the new reality and that is something investors and LPs should both be more aware of.
Do you see an improvement with the way investors and corporates feel about females as entrepreneurs? I think the common belief is that the investors will look at founders without prejudice, but dozens of pieces of research have proven otherwise. People believe mostly in founders that resemble them. That is why we need more diversity among
investors and decision makers. It has been shown that diversity attracts a wider range of opportunities and that different perspectives can better spot potential among them. That is why, on average, women led VCs made better returns since 2013. Family offices are seizing the moment, and institutional LPs are slow and more constrained to follow, however, the path has already been made. Now they need to follow the money.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;We need to see more people investing in women GPs.â&#x20AC;? What still needs to change and how?
We need to see more people investing in women GPs, i.e. women led funds. We need to see more women easily raising such funds. Then we will be able to see more female entrepreneurs, a wider range of products, and many women in type c level positions, thus we would all create a more diverse and inclusive business environment.
Are there any specific verticals you can mention where female entrepreneurs excel more?
Historically, the various verticals in regard to health were more gender equal as women earn more academic degrees and the confidence to start companies. ConsumerTech is also another vertical where women have been dominating. Data shows that women founders in deep tech companies seem to raise less funding than women in ConsumerTech. Nevertheless, today I see women in every sector, be it SaaS, cyber security and
even hardware. Women can, of course, excel in every vertical, as long as they are measured according to their capabilities and performance, not other unrelated parameters.
When do you feel women will close the gap on men in regards to entrepreneurship? Startups need funding to grow. They are funded mostly by angel investors and VC funds. Unfortunately, this layer of investors is very homogeneous. In fact, men make investment decisions roughly 99% of the time. Research showed that there is a lot of biases involved in the investment process and investors mostly see potential in founders that look like them. Having a more diverse investor layer (gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, etc.) will help recognize potential in a wider range of founders and support them. Currently mostly 24-32 year old young American men are receiving funding, even though the top 1% of successful founders are, in fact, 41.7 years old. Immigrant owned startups are twice as likely to become
“Women were shown to do more with less, unite people for a cause and better lead and that is something this crisis has actually proven.”
unicorns, and women return twice as much as men on every dollar they raise. This homogeneity obviously hurts innovation and the market as a whole. Therefore, if 50% of the personnel at VCs were women, it would have helped us to get females founders at 50% as well. When we reach the time where women lead 50% of the tech companies, it will definitely be a sign of equality. Ruth Bader Ginsburg (associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States) said that only when there are 9 out of 9 female judges, then we will experience a sign of equality. Bottom line, the change in women investors till now is a 1% increase in every decade, if we keep on with that trend it might take us 400 years until we reach a reasonable amount.
What tools do you provide to women in order to close that gap? I provide a platform with access to opportunities on the WeAct Facebook community. I offer advice on how to go about raising funds and how to be best positioned to succeed in such a process. I provide women GPs with information about the players in the market who are looking to back such funds. I connect
women entrepreneurs with US VCs who I know are interested in their vertical and stage. I make â&#x20AC;&#x153;warm introsâ&#x20AC;? and advice on competitive advantages when starting a raising round. I have created a group of women peers to discuss the challenges of being a founder with; a place where a novice entrepreneur can ask anything. I am happy to support the growth of women led companies in any possible way.
Do you think the recent COVID-19 crisis helped female entrepreneurs or actually disturbed them? Unfortunately, the data shows that more women were hurt by the pandemic crisis then men; not only female employees or mothers but I believe it went up the pyramid to women founders and investors. As I mentioned, uncertain times lead to a much more conservative behavior. Women are still seen as a bigger risk, however, on the other hand, women were shown to do more with less, unite people for a cause, and better lead: that is something this crisis has actually proven. Also, remote work might have some positive outcomes on inclusion. Diversity will make us all better, be it different ages, backgrounds, physical abilities, etc.
I Bet You Do! INNOVATION SAGE
Heli Dangur, Contributor
Medical Cannabis Global Business Development and Innovation Consultant; Founder and CoHost at CannaCAST IL - Israelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Medical Cannabis innovations podcast
f you wanted to recruit an employee, find a business partner, or invest in a venture, and someone offered you a glimpse into a day or two of their personal lives, would you take the offer? I bet you would. The qualities of leaders, which often have a much more profound effect on business than their professional experience, are easily observable in their personal lives. It is the personality of the entrepreneur that can lead the startup to either failure or success and steer the company to either profit or loss. The companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ability to maneuver in the target market, its growth and achievements, all boil down to the person at the wheel. If you had the chance to observe a woman at her home, how she manages her household with acumen, handles her childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s physical, emotional and educational needs, while juggling her own career and self-growth like a master performer. Would you not wish for such an employee? Or at least investment in such an entrepreneur? If you have ever
had the fortune to observe the birth of a baby, you must have witnessed the sheer determination a mother has to bring new life into the world. Would you like the entrepreneur you invest in to have such determination? Today more than ever, especially after COVID-19, businesses need open, transparent, and thoughtful communication with their customers and employees. Therefore, when you see the mother of your child handling him with sensitivity, holding perceptive conversations with him about his day, and coaching him gently, would you not like your employee to have such communication skills with your customers? Female entrepreneurship is characterized by all these qualities which are a huge advantage for business inertia. The next time you consider recruiting a female senior executive or want to invest in a female led venture, I would like you to remember all these admirable qualities you have such high regard for in your personal lives.
Sharon Vanek, Contributor Executive Director at CICC â&#x20AC;&#x201C; California Israel Chamber of Commerce
of the employees that were laid off in the US due to COVID19 were women. Many of them are mothers. According to some HR professionals, they were the first to be sent home, not because of their current performances or capabilities at work, but rather because management feared that they wouldn’t be able to take care of the children and work from home at the same time. Finding these statistics reminded me of a conversation I had 15 years ago with David Keynan, then the founder of i2i Ventures and now the Vice Chairman of the Indo-Israel Chambers of Commerce, who insisted on hiring only mothers to all the of the management positions in his operation. David understood early on that many working moms have a skill set that is needed for holding a COO position in any company. Research done in 2011 by the Kauffman Foundation showed that women-led companies are proven to be more resilient to financial and market crises and that, on average, they create 12 % more in revenue compared to their male peers. According to Fundera website statistic findings from March 2020, private tech companies led by women achieve 35% higher ROI. So why do women still need to prove that they are equally viable for a business to thrive?
When you think about the qualities that a successful entrepreneur needs, I bet you will list qualifications such as: have a strong sense of the mission, decision maker, know how to prioritize tasks, delegate responsibilities, multitasking, working under pressure, team builder and peace maker. These assets define the daily activities of most moms that I know. Although it is not legal in most countries, many employers secretly put emphasis on the effects of becoming a parent for women when they consider them to executive or management positions. However, it seems that in many companies the barrier is about gender, not parenthood, as there are no significant evidences that parenthood reduce women ability to serve as leaders. Women do not need you to hire them in order to fill in a rubric of “equality” or “diversity” but rather they want you to realize that they are indeed an asset for your management team. There is no shortage of qualified women or mothers out there, but rather there is a shortage in demand. Mothers should not be afraid to pursue executive roles or become entrepreneurs. They should seek this path in their career not because someone pushed them or let them fill an open slot – but rather because they have found something that they are good at and are passionate about. Because they can. *Used as a slogan of MAMANET, the only sports league for mothers, founded by Ofra Abramovitch from Israel.