In this PRENEUR interview we talk with Ran Dvir, an Israeli Entrepreneur from Tel Aviv. He will tell us about his projects and the start-up scene in Tel Aviv. In the second part we talk about himself as an Entrepreneur and his view on Entrepreneurship and self-motivation
Hi Ran, I got in touch with you on a meetup in Tel Aviv and you gave me some exciting insights. Please tell our readers who you are in a few words.
It’s always hard for me to describe myself, let alone in a few words, so I think the best description would be that I am an explorer. I have many defined visions of how my life should look and feel like and I am exploring various ways to make these visions becoming my reality.
You already started some projects in the past. Can you tell us more about your ideas and about the outcomes? Were these projects successful or did you come to a point where you decided to move on to something new?
I had about six or seven projects so far, from creating a photography business to selling on eBay to designing a physical product to building a mobile app, and if to judge by the goal each project has started with, then all projects have successfully failed! Though some would say it’s not a failure if you learned from it but I tend not to follow that perspective because learning is almost always not the true goal a project emerges from. Learning is more of a byproduct, a very welcome one, yes, but still – a byproduct.
What are the business ideas you are now working on?
Right now I am designing a mobile app tailored for dancers and their specific needs. I dance myself (a style called Kizomba), and during the past four years I have been apart of the dance scene in Israel which enabled me to identify specific user needs in this niche.
Until recently I also had another project running but after reading “The ONE Thing” I quicky understood I am better off focusing on, well, One Thing 🙂
Do you want to bootstrap your business or are you looking for an investment?
Bootstrapping at first, yes, and after a successful POC and initial traction I plan on raising and rebuilding. This way I can come up with an MVP and get feedback faster.
The Israeli market is quite small. That’s why most startups have an international setup right from the beginning. Especially ties with the US are strong. Which kind of programs or cooperations are there that make it easy for you to access the US market?
I can think about two types of cooperation channels: Public and Group-based. The Public channel includes all the platforms and tools accessible to all of us: Meetup, Facebook, Upwork, WeWork (or similar open-spaces), etc. and the Group-based channel includes mostly programs designed specifically for connecting two different yet interdependent groups, for example, introducing entrepreneurs who just finished their military service in Israel with accelerators from United States interesting in technology-based startups. However, I have no experience with these programs because I worked on most of my past projects by myself, with individuals or using public platforms like those I mentioned.
Lots of Israelis are nowadays moving to Berlin. Does that influence the startup scene and are more Israeli startups now focussing on the European market in the early stage or is there no visible effect on new companies?
It’s funny that you ask that. Only last week I decided to focus on the European market myself. I can’t say about visible effect on companies because I am not aware of that, but I can share my own reasons: Israel is small. Very small. A lot of times, when developing a solution tailored for a niche, as opposed to the mass market, Israel is too small to sustain the business all by itself. Europe, on the other hand, is vast and full of potential. For me, I chose to focus on Europe because it is much more in reach for me, physically, than, say, United States, and when developing a solution tailored for a specific customer segment – connection is everything. I can easily travel to Europe to meet with users, talk to them and getting to know the enviroment they live in, which can result in a much more effective and successful offerings.
Israel is known as a very innovative country, some say the most innovative country in the world. Out of your perspective, what are the reasons for that?
Life in Israel are pretty stressful for most. On top of constant threats to Israel as a country and to to its people, it’s also hard to make a living here, simple as that. Living costs are high and income isn’t hight enough. There are many taxes, public transportation is a nightmare (no merto for example), etc. However, next to all that, most Israelies are very determined people who look for ways to get what they want “by all means” often more than others. I think this combination of a stressing environment and a settle-for-nothing do-whatever-it-takes approach helps creating innovation at higher rates. It’s a powerful combination of ambitions and boldness.
You told me that the military is an important factor that supports young people to move on with their ideas and to build a company, espacially those who served in military intelligence units. Can you give us some more insights?
Israel invests a lot of resources in its intelligence units and as such, it is almost natural that when people who aquired precious training and experience in various IT fields finish their military service, they will be sought after by major companies that want to harness the expertise of these talented individuals. Some of them decide to take a different path and create their own company – their own startup. As I see it, just as the first phenomenon made room for programs that streamline the process of hiring talents, so does the second phenomenon made room for programs that connect talented entrepreneurs who served in elite IT units with organizations relevent to their goals – creating startups.
Does the Middle East conflict have a noticeable negative impact on doing business, e.g. for recruitment or to expand internationally?
Not that I’m aware of, though I’m sure it does have a negative impact, even if it’s not easily noticeable. This conflict is so old in years to the point that generations come and go in its background. The conflict’s negative effects are definitely there. It’s like having a high-pitch tone 24/7. Eventually it becomes almost unnoticeable. But if that tone would suddenly stop, an immediate relief will be felt.
Let’s say I want to start a business in Tel Aviv. What do you suggest? 🙂
I will first ask you why did you choose Tel Aviv in order to understand your assumptions and the intended target audience and continue from there. I think starting a business is a very broad intention so I can’t really think of any helpful suggestion I can make without knowing more details.
Ran, these were some interesting and exciting insights, thank you a lot. In the second part we will talk about you as an entrepreneur.