This week, Israeli startups came to Microsoft's Silicon Valley headquarters and demonstrated their products in front of dozens of investors from around the world. We're running a series this week that gives the founders at these companies the oportunity to tell us firsthand what drives their companies, what gets them out of bed in the morning and to offer advice to other startups about how to approach the difficult task of disrupting industries.
Conferences are social. So is the internet. Evolero empowers conference organizers to fully utilize today's social web for their conference.
With Evolero, organizers easily setup and manage an event website that replaces the flat, static registration site with a live showcase of the network of people, content and connections their event generates. As a first step, organizers easily manage their site's layout, branding, information and registration. Every person related content an organizer adds to the site, activates an invite to that person to add their layers to the site, in order to promote their objective at the conference. Organizer offers a better, valuable experience to the presenters, sponsors and attendees and maximizes the conference's online branding, marketing and sales. As the conference's eco-system comes to life online, it's easy to make the most out of the conference before, during and after the event day.
Here are Co-founders Tal Shoham and Shany Peleg, from Evolero.
What have you learned about managing a technological business that you would pass on to the next generation?
I’ve learned that everything starts and ends with a strong team, both personally and professionally. Team should be comprised of people that are complementary to each other’s talents and personalities.
What was the most difficult challenge your business faced this year?
Staying focused and understanding the main, core value our product brings that differs it from any other solution or service within the industry
How do you know when you are failing in product development and how do you make a correction – do you make the decision on your own, or do you consult your team?
I try to only look at numbers and facts of our clients & users actions within the system and not their opinions about the product. Through our product’s analytics, I figure out what is being used, what’s not being used and what’s being used differently from what we expected. We then discuss these issues within our team and with our mentors and advisors and come up with a potential solution, which we execute and test it and re-discuss results.
What signals from your consumers do you look for to signify that you are winning?
First and foremost - Returning costumers. We have an 80% of returning costumers and that is a main sign for us that we’re on the right track. Other than that, we are collecting between 5-10 leads per each conference using our system, from the conference attendees that are also organizing conferences themselves, which is another strong signal for us.
When you need to ask questions on your team, who do you go to? Who do you usually turn to outside of your organization to ask questions?
We have a lot of great, invaluable discussions with Hanan Lavy, who’s managing the WAA. We also meet very intensely with our mentor, Yossi Sella, a senior partner at Gemini VC. For topic-specific questions and discussions, we turn to one of the four mentors working with us through the WAA mentor program.
Who would you like to be your mentor, and what would you ask him or her?
I would like to add to our mentor list a CEO of an internet company, to mentor me on the dailies of running an internet business, on the long list of objectives a CEO has to cover and on methods of work she or he developed.
Who is your mentor, and what was the last great thing he or she told you and your team?
One of our mentors, Dror Leshem, made us sit and write a month-by-month plan of every aspect of our startup’s development as I’m planning it. He told me to never keep things in my head that I don’ have to, so there’s never an overload due to the huge amount of data a startup CEO has to walk around with. It really took a lot off my shoulders.
What has overjoyed you in the past month?
As always, our product excites me most. We’ve teamed up with a new designer and gave her a heavy mission - to implement our unique vision into a UI that emphasizes our main innovative value that visually demonstrate how we change the game within the conference industry. She came up with a great execution that gave us confidence that we are about to take one meaningful step forward in really changing the game.
Who inspired you the most this week, and why?
My father. He always pushes me to understand that reality is always better than any dream and that I should always strive to get answers and facts even if I’m afraid they’re going to disappoint me. Knowing where you stand, fast, will bring you closer to making things better, faster.
When was the last time you fell in love with a product?
I fell in love with a product lately when I used Airbnb. I love how their vision manifests into every little aspect of the (stunning) product. They even offer a professional photographer, free of charge, to come by your property and take professional pictures, so the site’s visual appearance will not fall short of any
professional hotel registration site, as well as helping to increase users confidence and increase sales. Recently I found their first ever investors’ slide-deck and it was the same clear vision and focus from day one. Even more impressive!
What does something in your business vertical need in order for the product to be successful?
It needs more and more independent conference organizers - they are the classical users of our system. This is an exponentially growing segment, and we need it to keep growing
What came first for your company – the product idea or your existence on the internet?
Since two of the founders came from the industry and our product is the result of 10 accumulated years of online struggles for the events we lead as organizers, initiators and owners– the product idea came first and was tested, even as an idea, on our immediate environment of conference organizers, offline.
Is the lean startup process a type of marketing, or is marketing different from customer and product development? How does your company utilize next generation marketing techniques?
We are not there yet, we’re still focusing on market validation. We’re selling our first version and understanding what is our core value and main problem we are answering. Generally, I don’t think marketing is different from customer and product development. It need to be viewed as one organ in the holistic organism that is a startup, and be handled, both strategically and tactically, in accordance with the product and market development and as an extension of these procedures.
Has starting your own company provided any answers about your life? Have you discovered something about yourself that you didn’t know before?
Oh… where should I start? Starting my own company is the biggest learning and development experience I have ever had in my life. It is difficult to summarize what I have learned, as learning is still in its process but I think that first and foremost it is the understanding that no one knows better than you what is good for you. People around may be smart and experienced, but understanding how to make things work, either for me or for my business, is something only I can do. This is a great responsibility but also a huge mental emancipation.