Israeli Female Entrepreneurs Visit Silicon Valley

By Talia Levin, Ziv Beilin, Bili Besserglick, Eilon Nofer Globes, Tel Aviv, Israel

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Top Israeli female entrepreneurs discuss how they founded and manage top technology ventures. The women were asked about mistakes they have made, the managerial advice that worked the best for them, and the effective management habits they have assumed.

Globes, Tel Aviv, Israel

Israeli women entrepreneurs were selected to take part in an innovative project and flew out to Silicon Valley in California.

The entrepreneurs were selected by a panel of judges in the We Act organization designed to promote entrepreneurship by women.

"Globes" gathered them into a group in order to hear their insights about founding and managing a technology venture. Among other things, the women were asked about mistakes they have made, the managerial advice that worked the best for them, and the effective management habits they have assumed. The following entrepreneurs have already raised millions of dollars.

Lital Leshem, cofounder and business development executive of Reporty Homeland Security, which has developed a rescue app based on video and pinpointing location in emergencies, has raised $6 million.

Orly Shoavi, founder and CEO of SafeDK, a mobile data management platform, has raised almost $6 million.

Hila Goldman-Aslan, founder and CEO of DiACardio, a innovative development for identifying cardiac events, has raised $5 million.

Smadar Landau, founder of Feelter, an app that collates information from the social networks about products before buying, has raised $4.5 million.

Iris Tsidon, cofounder and CEO of Okapi, a platform for improving organizational management, has raised $2.5 million.

Eynat Guez, cofounder and CEO of Papaya Global, a mobile global personnel placement app, has raised $1.5 million.

Sunbit cofounder and R&D manager Ornit Dweck-Maizel The development: "A new payment method that allows people to devise their own personalized payment schedule."

Record: "My entire career has revolved around the combination of technology and finances," says Dweck-Maizel, 37. I started as a programmer, switched to development management positions at Intel, for example. As part of my jobs, I worked with entrepreneurs, CEOs, and investors. I was always responsible for large areas, and I knew that the next stage for me would be founding a company."

She founded Sunbit, a startup, with three partners less than a year ago.

Effective management tools: "As a software development manager, I am a great believer in the Agile system, which stresses flexibility and quickness. This method has enabled us to come out with an initial product relatively quickly and post early profits, and the product is growing and developing. Once you define the set and work with it, and then listen to the needs in the market and adjust accordingly -- that's what enables you to make a good response quickly."

An insight that changed my life: "It's possible to balance entrepreneurship with family life. After my son was born, I stayed at home for a while, and I quickly realized that this wasn't enough for me. I assumed that there must be a way between a demanding career and raising children, and I was determined to find it. Today, I know that it's possible; you just have to build the right setup."

Exit: "I'm not looking for it, and I don't recommend that anyone look for a quick exit. The startup is our life for a good few years. If I don't enjoy this road, we've done nothing. For me, the idea is to build a large company for the long term." To make a change: "One way to change the small number of women in the sector is to create a community, so that women feel comfortable, and have a place to seek advice and see that there are successes."

Vala cofounder and CEO Tali Av-Zuk The development: "We're offering a 'human ATM;' we connect people who need cash with 'cash agents' -- small businesses or private individuals who give money to people who need it, and we earn a commission from it."

Self-discipline: at 6:30 AM, you will find Av-Zuk on a surfboard being carried along by the wind on the Tel Aviv beach. She battles the waves until 9, when she goes home and walks from there to her office on Rothschild Boulevard.

Record: Av-Zuk, 31, is an accountant with a BA in economics and accounting and an MBA from Tel Aviv University. Her career record includes a partnership in a startup that dealt with insurance for haulage companies in the US, a job as a financial analyst, being a manager responsible for emerging markets at Paypal, and working in the investment division of Barclays Bank.

She founded Vala a year ago with two partners: CTO Noam Nevo and COO/CFO Alon Zion.

Volume of activity: "We have the ability to reach anywhere in the world -- even the most remote villages. We work mostly in India and places where everyone has a cellular device, but no access to financial services. It actually takes place through an app available in Google Store. A person in the US can send money to a person in India through our app. Even though he has no bank account, he can 'withdraw' the money from one of the agents in his neighborhood."

Investors: The leading investors in the company are Barclays Bank and TechStars. Vala operates in the Israel and Indian markets. The company already has 150,000 cash agents in India. "We're currently in the middle of another financing round, and we're entering the US market."

Model for inspiration: "I grew up in the home of an entrepreneur who encourages women entrepreneurs. My father, Joseph Avzuk, is a serial entrepreneur who founded many businesses in his life. Among other things, he was one of the Russia's Internet pioneers. That's how I was exposed to entrepreneurship from a young age."

Lital Leshem -- cofounder and business development executive of Reporty Homeland Security The development: Reporty's goal is to create a new standard in the reporting business. Instead of dialing emergency numbers at times of distress, the company offers an applicative interface. Clicking on a button opens the cellular device's camera and provides a live video broadcast simultaneously with the call, including the precise location within buildings. Instead of a call operator asking questions to get information, a picture of the situation on location is available within seconds, which completely changes how emergencies are dealt with.

The investor: Reporty made headlines in May 2015, when former Prime Minister Ehud Barak invested $1.5 million in the innovative venture focusing on personal security. "Barak is the company chairman, and is in touch with us on a daily basis. He is a senior strategic investor, and is more involved than we could ask for," Leshem, 29, says.

The beginning: "Amir Elichai, who is now Reporty's CEO, saw pictures from my XStream on Facebook, and scheduled a meeting with me to convince me to import wave surfing equipment with him. I never planned to leave my job, but then he told me about an event that happened to him on the beach, in which he was attacked by a band of Sudanese. He dialed 100 for the first time in his life, but the call operator couldn't help him. One of the problems was making her understand where he was. When you order a pizza or a cab, they come to the exact place where you are, but when a person is in distress, you can't find him."

The entrepreneurship sector: "I didn't come from the technology sector at all. Today, three years after I entered the entrepreneurship world, I have no technological orientation in the company. I deal mainly with marketing and business development.

"In any case, after 10 minutes, he called me again, and told me, 'We don't know each other well enough, but you seem to me a spontaneous enough girl and I'd be glad if you joined. I don't know why, but I agreed. Then tech lead Alex Dizengof joined, and we became partners."

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