gera-weisbaum

Ask a lot of questions. As I mentioned, I like to do the research, and a lot of that includes finding the right people and asking their advice. A lot of the top people in any field are far more approachable than people realize, and I like to listen to what they have to say before coming to my own conclusion.

Gera (Gerardo) Waisbaum is an entrepreneur and technology professional with broad experience in all aspects of product’s life cycle, from definition, through product marketing and financial analysis to product launch. In his various roles, Gera had the chance to work in both, small startups as well as in big corporates.

Gera is the founder and CEO of StickOut.com, the first marketplace for artful car skins.The website give people, for the first time, an opportunity to personalize their cars and give them their own unique look with and easy to apply skin. StickOut just launched its Kickstarter campaign https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/346209858/stickout-the-instant-diy-car-makeover.

Prior to creating StickOut, Gera spent three years as Senior Business Manager in CSR for the camera product line. In his role Gera worked directly with some of the world’s top camera makers.

Gera had his first incursion in the entrepreneur world and co-founded BigDeal.co.il, one of the leader daily deals websites in Israel (sold in 2010 to Ynet, Israel’s #1 content & news site).

Gera spent more than 14 years in Marvell Semiconductors in a variety of positions from development, through development management to product management, both in Israel and in the company headquarter in California.

He holds a BsC in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, both from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. Gera admires creativity and can spend hours looking at pictures of unique graphic designs, architecture, art, etc.

A man of many interests, Gera loves traveling, photography, sailing, mountain biking, skiing, reading, movies, cooking and baking bread (he also likes Breaking Bad!)

Where did the idea for StickOut come from?

It was two things really. The first is that I wanted a nice custom skin for my iPhone, and found a company online that does original designer skins that looked unique and interesting. The second is more mundane: I was stuck at a traffic jam. I looked at all the cars and noticed that the all look the same. Big blocks on wheels. I thought of my iPhone skin and asked myself why not do the same for cars? The ball just rolled from there.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Most of my day I’m at the office in front of my computer. I use music in the background to get a good rhythm going. If I can make the time, I’ll go for a run. It helps get the excess energy out and also a good way to give my brain some break.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Simplest answer: Research. Once I have an idea, I want to know everything I can about it: has it been done before, what are the limitations, and what’s needed to physically bring the idea to life. There’s really no way around it. I do this in other areas of life as well – for example when I decided to buy a camera, I researched everything about it, and even now most of my friends consider me their local camera expert.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’m a big fan of the ongoing personalization mega-trend. I like that now it’s fashionable to have something that’s unique to you. When I was a kid in Argentina, everybody around me wanted to have a Levi’s or Wrangler jeans and a pair of Nike, Rebook or New balance. If you wanted to be cool that meant looking like everybody else. Nowadays, people look for ways to differentiate themselves. You still buy Nike, Adidas and Levis, but you can now buy all the brands with some element of customization – even if it’s just colored shoe laces. We now celebrate what special about each of us rather than conform to what’s around us.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’ve got to confess that productivity is a weak point for me. I get distracted very easily, so I have to work hard to stick with certain tasks. I use a lot of task management: I tried using sticky notes, spreadsheets, etc. Currently I’m trying my luck with Asana.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I used to be a Program Manager at a hi-tech company. I wouldn’t call it a bad job, but it was an extremely difficult one. I was tasked with managing groups of people that didn’t answer to me on a regular basis, and didn’t report to me directly. I learned how to work with people not from a superior-subordinate type of relationship, but rather to strive for collaboration between everyone.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I think I would have adhered more to the Lean Startup Principles. Specifically, I would strive to find and start with an MVP – Minimum Viable Product – ask ourselves what’s the simplest thing we can put out there for our customers right now, and move forward from there. I think that would have saved us a lot of anxiety during the first stages, and would’ve gotten us customers faster.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Ask a lot of questions. As I mentioned, I like to do the research, and a lot of that includes finding the right people and asking their advice. A lot of the top people in any field are far more approachable than people realize, and I like to listen to what they have to say before coming to my own conclusion.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We’ve always been pretty open with the people that surround our business: Our suppliers, our artists, and of course our customers. We take their needs into consideration and share with them what we’re doing and never try to deceive. It create a sense of community that’s really important for growing a business in this connected world, especially if you’re trying to make it through crowdfunding like we’re doing.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

During a previous project I didn’t know enough about my partners going in. As it turns out, one of them was pretty impossible to work with. At the end of the day we decided the best way to move forward was to sell and move on. The experience was a harsh one, but it taught me a valuable lesson about studying up on potential partners.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Honestly, I can’t think of anything. Every now and then I might come up with an idea for something I think will be a good idea, and if it’s stuck in my head long enough I know it’s worth pursuing myself. Otherwise, they just fade away.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I have a passion for baking bread. Not the most exciting pastime, I know, but it’s my main hobby right now. I like to try new things and find new ideas online.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

There isn’t a day I don’t use Google Docs or Drive in one form or another. In general, all the Google apps are incredibly useful in my work. I love the fact that we can have a conference call over Google Hangouts with four different people in four different cities and have everybody look at the same document and edit it in real time. There are other tools to do that, of course, but Google is pretty much a one-stop-shop for these types of online collaborations.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I really recommend any of Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational. It contains a lot of insight as to why people act the way they do. It’s a very short read that will leave you with a lot of ideas about motivating people.

Also – and this might seem redundant, but I always recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Whether you agree with his methodology and conclusions or not, it’s the basis of discussion for so much of what’s been done in the marketing and entrepreneurial worlds that you can’t not read it.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I can’t point to anyone in particular that significantly influenced me. However, I have over my desk a quote from Franklyn Roosevelt that inspired me a lot:

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

It’s what led me to leave my job and start my own company.

As for a more current source of interest, I’d recommend the video-blog “Extra Credits” on YouTube. Their focus is game design, but there is a lot there that should be interesting to anyone looking to make an obscure idea into a reality. They go into a lot of specific details and have a wealth of experience between them that they share with the audience.