Being a founder, not to mention a CEO, can be a very lonely place, carrying loads of stress and required to constantly be at peak performance. This often makes it hard to find balance between one's professional and personal life. Maintaining strong relationships with the co-founders and investors, is also not an easy task, where clarity and empathy are not always present. As one of my entrepreneurs says: “It’s not the technological challenge we deal with, it’s the mental one”.
"Throughout my +15 years as a professional, I've always been attracted to the intersection of business and psychology through entrepreneurship - What makes people tick? How do people think and act? And what motivates people in business? What drives me is being there for the amazing entrepreneurs, who are under constant pressure, so that they can make our world a better place. That’s what I’m here for, and this is my podcast – The Human Founder."
Avi Yaron, GP at HealthYa
When you’re pushed to the edge - you can fight harder than your usual boundaries. Avi thought he had it all at the age of 26. 2 startups, working non-stop. A smart guy. An Electrical Engineer. Till the day his life went upside down - and the Dr. told him he has a brain tumor. He had a motorcycle accident, and the CT scan revealed the tumor. Avi thought his life was over. The Dr. recommended an immediate surgery but Avi refused. He started to teach himself Medicine. Biology. Physics. He tried all kinds of alternative medicine and changed the course of his life. He did an MRI every 3 months - checking the status of the tumor. As he describes - “I knew how bad the situation was according to the level of shouting from the radiologists”. He had to be extra optimistic and had to strongly believe that he would defeat it - or else he would die.
There were 2 “Avis”: the one that was driven out of curiosity, with no fear, learning and trying everything out there, and the 2nd Avi, who was afraid for his life.
He understood that the brain tumor was a symptom, hence, something deep had to change. He then found a neurosurgeon with a different approach - Dr. Patrick Kelly - and he was willing to put his life in his hands. Avi was part of the process.
1st-2nd of May 1995, was his new birth. The surgery went well.
He came back to Israel, determined to change his life - eat healthy, live without stress. He was a living miracle. Drunk on life, a year and a half passes by, and an MRI shows that he has a residual tumor.
Dr. Patrick Kelly explains that the tumor is so deep, that he needs a 3D camera device to treat it, but there isn’t any existing. He suggests that Avi will wait 5 years for someone to invent it...
Avi broke all his savings, met with scientists all over the world and started to work on this development. Investors didn't want to invest in him, as he was a ticking bomb.
He then reached out to Dr. Hanoch Elran who performed the 4th surgery, which saved Avi’s life. As a healthy person - Avi went back to the investors. 10 more years of R&D and development and living in the US - VisionSense, Avis’ scientific deep tech company which developed minimally invasive surgery technology, was acquired by Medtronic.
Avi reflects on his journey, that when it comes to adults - the root cause is usually emotional - “We should listen to the whisper of the disease and not wait for the shout”.
From innovator to investor
That’s what has led him to build Joy Ventures, with a very big vision of creating a new ecosystem to enhance resilience. He had to leave that dream, understanding that too many mistakes had been made and that this venture is not right for him anymore. That was another milestone in Avi’s entrepreneurial rollercoaster.
That gave Avi, again, another big life lesson, to begin a new journey. “We should always work on our dreams, maximize our days, and learn from our mistakes. We have 3 brains - the mind brain, the heart brain, the guts brain. They are all integrated in a neural connection. Decisions have to be aligned with all of them”.
Avi and his new partners founded HealthYa, nurturing revolutionary health-tech solutions, investing in life saving technologies and helping build the ventures.
Avi guides and mentors dozens of entrepreneurs, as he sees his duty in serving others and helping people who need him. When talking about risk management - first and foremost - if you don’t have a huge dream to be an entrepreneur - don’t do it.
The Chinese people believe that one is always a bit deceased, hence, we need to fix and improve ourselves all the time. The mental flexibility is what matters - not to be led by ego, but by curiosity. To do things we never did before, go out of our comfort zone, and always ask ourselves - is what we’re doing now really meaningful?