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."
Yotam Cohen, Co-founder & CEO of Daisy
Yotam is a serial entrepreneur, the co-founder and CEO of Daisy, and previously, he co-founded Wibbitz as part of the Zell entrepreneurship program where he still serves as a mentor.
Yotam, in fact, has experienced the full package of a life-of-an-entrepreneur - and shares with us from a bird’s eye view, and deep dives - the roller coaster of a serial entrepreneur.
100% trust, and always thinking what’s best for the company
He co-founded Wibbitz while he was a student at the IDC, as part of the Zell program. When reflecting back, on the beginning of the journey - he now sees how naive he was and with how much uncertainty he had to cope with. It’s a marathon composed of many small wins, expected to prove who you are at all times - “You’ve gotta show you can really do it”. At the Zell program - they started as 4 founders, soon became 2. The expectations were high.
When discussing how they have decided about their roles as CEO & COO - he answers that the key is 100% trust, and always thinking what’s best for the company. Co-founders relations are like marriage, and one should always think about the other side’s needs. Both parties should invest in it, and give priority to the relationship.
The dynamics changes when opening a US site
Most startups leave their R&D & product in Israel, and marketing & sales in the US. Opening the second site, when one co-founder stays in Israel and the other one relocates - makes things more complicated. The cultural differences appear and the communication gets less direct. Hence, it’s profoundly crucial to first implement a strong foundation and infrastructure, set expectations and keep the communication channels open and transparent all the time. Once again - trust & healthy communication are the key.
The company’s culture won’t develop on its own, and people have to practice how to work together as a team. First and foremost - culture is being built by leaders who lead by example.
Yotam reflects about the difference between founding his 1st startup to the 2nd one, and how nowadays, prior to launching Daisy, it was all based on common values and clear understanding of how they should operate.
How do you leave your “child”?
Leaving your own startup is a difficult choice. It’s a tough and emotional decision that you don’t make overnight. Things have to be deeply go wrong to do so, and in his case, after a lot of self-reflection, he felt he was not himself anymore.
Yotam remembers clearly the silence when he was in the office with his 100 employees, sharing the news - so sad and so proud of what they’ve built together.
People don’t leave because they are afraid to deal with difficult questions. “What will I do now?” For Yotam it was clear - although many offers were made - from joining VCs to joining other ventures - he knew he was born to be an entrepreneur, and he wishes to do it all from the beginning - 0-1, new industry, new experience.
2nd time entrepreneur
Building your 2nd venture - you face the same problems and same challenges, but there is one big difference - you already have some more perspective; you know that if things are broken now, you will fix them later on. Or not. And move to the next feature. Being a second time entrepreneur - you feel more comfortable making decisions with only 60-70% assurance. You know that the key to success is in the iterative process, the fast learnings and the personal evolvement of the team.
Confidence comes from within (It’s all about family)
Yotam shares the strong foundation and confidence he got from his family: a father - former pilot at the IAF who was injured and got back to flight; a strong leader mother; 1 brother - Yiftach - entrepreneur & CEO of Zedes; 1 brother Elad - a rocket scientist; and a successful sister, Maya -Head of Company at Lemonade, together with his wife Michal that keep him and their 4 children all together. Yotam describes his family as the ‘safe zone’.
Talking about his recent relocation, Yotam shares the challenges and how important it is to have a supportive spouse, understanding the sacrifice the family is making - side by side with the amazing experiences.