Market forces are strong and you have to constantly make sure your target hasn’t shifted and if it did, be agile enough and smart enough to change directions.
Shelly Hod Moyal has an extensive financial and investment background. Prior to iAngels, Shelly was an Investment Banker at Goldman Sachs, a Research Analyst at Avenue Capital and a Financial Adviser in UBS.
Mor Assia has an extensive technological and business background. Prior to iAngels, Mor held several corporate positions including Corporate Strategy Associate at Amdocs, Business Development Associate at SAP and Strategy Associate at IBM Global Business Services.
Where did the idea for iAngels come from?
iAngels is an equity based investment platform that provides individual investors from all over the world access to exclusive Israeli startups that have been backed by top performing Angel Investors. iAngels enables individuals to invest with the exact same terms as the lead, at a capacity that makes sense for the individual. Shelly Hod Moyal, my partner, and I launched iAngels in late January 2014 and, to date, have invested in 18 companies across different verticals.
Growing up in Israel and being surrounded by technology gave us the opportunity to closely interact with successful entrepreneurs. Learning about this unique ecosystem from an insider’s perspective is what fueled the motivation to bring foreign investors into Israel, and expose these investment opportunities to the world.
After living in New York City for many years, we realized that global investors needed a partner to provide visibility and access into the early-stage investment landscape in Israel. To make sure that their interests are properly represented, investors need a partner overseas to act as their eyes and ears, which is the role iAngels fills.
Our extensive corporate experience in companies like IBM, Goldman Sachs, SAP, UBS and Amdocs, provides us with insight as to what investors expect. As we were part of M&A efforts at these companies, we know firsthand what large organizations look for when considering an acquisition. Our networks in both Israel and abroad are key in iAngels’ value proposition to startups and investors.
The motivation behind iAngels was about helping investors make successful exits that were previously only available to an exclusive few. Now, investors from all over world have the chance to gain access to this exclusivity.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At iAngels, no two days are the same. As we receive about 60 applications every month, an important part of each day is considering new startups to work with. We conduct regular deal flow meetings with angels and funds and collaborate on our insight. We also work on the platform itself, to bring a personalized investment experience to our investors. Occasionally, we host various delegations and investors that are interested in investing in Israeli startups.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We usually spark new ideas at strategy sessions where we take a vertical of our business we would like to attend to, and create a discussion around it. Coming up with creative and original solutions takes time and attention. To successfully execute these ideas, we bring in our team and make sure that everyone knows their role in the success of the new concept.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One interesting trend that we are seeing is how Israeli entrepreneurs are developing larger companies, and are anticipating larger exits and IPOs. Entrepreneurs in Israel have matured and are going on to develop their second and third ventures. Their experience is serving them in creating more sustainable companies, larger organizations and more meaningful solutions on a global scale. We anticipate this trend to feed into the M&A and IPO dynamic of upcoming years.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Dividing online and offline work helps to increase productivity. While in the office, we have a lot of “online” work that consists of internal meetings and external meetings with startups and investors, work sessions and phone calls. In the evening, we log in and do some “offline” work. We create content and brainstorm on strategic decisions. The day at the office is very hectic and does not always provide the needed setting for these offline efforts, which are very important and should not be overlooked.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
All jobs have their highs and lows which both serve as learning opportunities. One job I had was at a very strict organization that has a reputation of being hard on its employees, but is considered to be one of the best hands-on ‘’universities’ and a major stepping stone for your career. I took on the position knowing this, but remained hopeful that my experience would be different. At the end of the day, it was exactly as people warned me it would be, but provided me with invaluable tools for the road ahead. When working in this type of organization, one should closely monitor his personal development and know when the time is to move on.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would spend more time on hiring. Often times, when a startup is in its early stages, you think you are able to defer this action until there is more financial security. I think that bringing in from the get go talented people to create the dream team is important and can help you scale faster. The culture of the organization is highly dependent on these first hires.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Take a step back to look at the big picture. Many times work consumes you, and a month later you realize you have to reconsider your direction. Market forces are strong and you have to constantly make sure your target hasn’t shifted and if it did, be agile enough and smart enough to change directions.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We see a lot of value in conducting research and providing insight and content to our investor community. The education process is ongoing and we see research as fundamental in our relationships with investors.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the beginning, we tried to use an external team to handle one aspect of our company. We quickly realized that someone who does not have the iAngels DNA could not provide the kind of service we would like our investors to experience. We learned we needed full control over the lifecycle. From that point on we have been very cautious of working with external partners. We prefer to spend more time recruiting the right talent and have someone dedicated to the effort.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Communities are growing strong these days. Many solutions attend to their needs. Looking into this growing trend, platforms that can provide value to different communities can have a potential in establishing a significant traction and be successful. Be sure to recognize the potential and understand the business model going in.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
During my recent travels I bought selfie sticks to give as gifts to my family, they were a huge success.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
We are very aware of the various solutions out there and currently use Asana, Trello, Pipedrive, Anymeeting, Mailjet, Mailchimp and more. As part of the technological due diligence we conduct on startups, we often choose to test the solutions ourselves to measure their value. We also refer our portfolio companies to act as beta sites for solutions we are considering or investing in.
One service we recently started using is Silo, a new social network that allows you to unlock the power of your business network to answer real needs and wishes based on the people who are most relevant. Silo puts the Ask at the center, instead of the personal profile. The people who are most relevant to answer your need, might be the farthest away on your network, and Silo knows how to bring the people forward who are valuable. It is growing rapidly and we recently launched our own Silo group, which comes to serve our community of investors and startups, to help create business connections and answer real needs.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Startup Nation, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. This book provides a look into the entrepreneurial spirit and unique ecosystem that fosters much of the technological innovation coming out of Israel. The investments iAngels showcase present the opportunity to invest in this asset class in a highly curated way, and take part in Startup Nation’s success.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Gigi Levy, one of our lead angels, is someone we derive a lot of inspiration from. He is considered to be one of the most successful angel investors in Israel. We often collaborate with him and look to him as a mentor for our own business as well.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.