What differentiates tech entrepreneurs that succeed with a groundbreaking product from those who don’t?

Why good products don’t succeed? Why do registered patents get shredded in the trash bin of history? Why does a business entrepreneur need a technology person, and vice versa? These questions have been asked countless times – here is one opinion piece with an answer you won’t necessarily like.

If you ask an entrepreneur for their opinion on the hitech and startup industry, they will give a detailed reply about how great it is, and also how odd and satisfying it can be – all at the same time. If you show them a young, hard working entrepreneur and ask what is the best way for them to succeed – even if it’s someone who has already conquered the international arena – they are unlikely to have a concrete answer.

How does that make sense?

Simple – before you look at the road, it’s important to examine and learn the data and the facts and use that to improve yourself, based on other people’s experience, not your own, especially the experience of those who have already been that down road.

That is the official answer – but underlying that answer there is another answer that you may not want to hear – even if it is the truth.

A simple question that needed  to be asked a long time ago.

We come across many stories of entrepreneurs who served in elite military units and founded a startup wearing their founders hat. So far, so good – however, if we look into their skills as CEO, will we get a good result? We shall see in a moment.

Alongside the story we just heard, there is another story where a technological project is started by business people. The operation is developing and gets to the capital raising sage, and only one question is left:

Where is the CTO?!

Investors are often reluctant, and many deals fall through only because the business founder took care of everything – except for getting the right technological partner, and let us not forget, that there are also opposite cases.

As an entrepreneur and a business man myself I encountered successful people who did their million dollar exists, and people who are just as brilliant, with amazing ideas, who were forced to close down their companies, and even go bankrupt, god forbid. At first, I didn’t understand how this happens, until I understood a simple, yet powerful, analogy.

We can liken each project to a four-legged table – every leg is important and essential, and if one wobbles, the entire table wobbles with everything you put on it – companies, especially startups, work the same.

There are business innovators and tech innovators, and they are both missing something essential – the other side. It’s the other half that even romance literature does not speak of, but it’s essential if you want to succeed. However, it seems that many entrepreneurs, both in Israel and in the rest of the world, don’t understand the importance of this, and end up failing without understanding where they went wrong.

The story is simple – but too many people miss the point.

Tech Entrepreneurs

Disagree? Here are some thinkers much greater than me

Amos Talmor, Venture Capital Investor (Angel): I can attest that I’ve met hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs, the tech people are almost always tech geniuses, but many of them know nothing about business, I recall that I recommended to quite a few tech entrepreneurs to learn the basics of the business world, including selling to customers, since sales are the essential matter of every company, and of course, a startup. The need to understand the sales and marketing strategy of the business are the essential issues in a company and, unfortunately, the tech people are not always aware of their importance and at the end of the day these are the essence of success in any business venture.

Avichai Michaeli, senior consultant to startups and investors:” In the hi-tech world there is a clear separation between business capabilities and technological capabilities. This stands our in big sales that integration companies such as IBM, Matrix, and similar companies make.

Every important meeting is attended by two roles: One is a business salesperson, whose job is “to open the door” and to make the commercial deal, and the other is a pre/post-sale rep who explains the technological side and is responsible solely for the technological implementation.

At the end of the day, you can see in the wild: tech people who also understand the commercial sides are considered rare, and tech entrepreneurs who also know how to handle the business side are considered to be the best of them”

Ram Yonish, founder of  ‘Siemplify’ who sold his company to ‘Checkpoint’: “I am not a tech entrepreneur, but I can attest that my two partners, Gili and Yahli are brilliant tech guys who have a lot of relevant experience. Putting their combined experience together, and with clear expectation from day one, the division of role was clarified, where they lead the tech development side, and I lead the business and capital raising side. Fortunately, and without having prepared for it, the opportunity to sell to checkpoint came from an unexpected  direction, and thus it came about that the company was sold about seven months after it was formally established, and with no capital raised from investors.”

An equation written in blood

You may have reached these lines with certainty that you have the required knowledge or at least access to it, and you may be right. However, this is a critical insight that could affect all future performance, and it cannot be belittled.

It is time for you to find your other half outside the apps – and ask every clever investor whether they prefer talent that serves only one end of the scale, or a stable, quality combination.

This article is an opinion piece based on the writers’ experience.

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One Response

  1. I totally agree with the opinions expressed above but want to add another element to the mix which I find missing with young Israeli companies. The tech element and expertise is usually great and the business expertise is usually missing but I am seeing some changes with companies that have one founder with business expertise in the mix. The element that is missing for me and is definitely one of the most important is the marketing expertise. As a young company the founders usually do not allocate marketing budget at the beginning but as they find out when they get to the market (especially the U.S. market) the message is more important than the product in finding the right buyer and getting validation in the market. One of Gartner’s complimentary articles for some more thoughts: https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/insights/articles/gartner-keynote-why-marketers-are-vital-for-connected-successful-organizations

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