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."
Episode #33 - May Piamenta, Co-founder & CEO of Vee
Imagine taking the bus out of Dimona (a southern city in Israel), dreaming about helping people and establishing your own startup at the age of 22. That’s May’s story. A Cinderella one - and it isn't easy to keep up the high expectations when everyone is watching. May cut her hair and donated it when she was 13. That’s how early she understood that she’s gonna do things that not everyone will understand.
In her youth - she joined First - an organization that promotes tech, science and social entrepreneurship, shortly after that - she led the whole operation in Israel with more than 10 millions volunteers.
She opened her 1st business when she was a teenager - an e-commerce platform for bathing suits, and a 2nd business for website creation within 24 hours - just after the army service. So beyond the impact Vee brings into this world - May, as its co-founder and CEO, needs to hold it all together at a very young age, meaning missing on the experiences of her age group.
To do so, therapy and supporting surroundings is a must for her. May shares how difficult it is sometimes to stand in front of investors or talents that don’t believe that you can make it, and that you've got what it takes. She speaks openly about her lack of managerial experience and decision making, how overwhelming it can be, and what she does in order to overcome those challenges.
Not being ashamed and believing in yourself is a must, and that's when investors want to replace her - she simply asks - WHY? Having strong, experienced and supporting co-founders, makes it all much more possible.
When she started - she didn't even speak English, and now - there are so many people that want her to win. All together - it’s not easy to live up to these expectations.
As all CEOs understand early down the road - during the good times - everyone is with you, but in the hard times - you are on your own. And it’s a very lonely place to be in. May understands many truths about life at a very early stage - for example, that it’s OK not to be OK. She’s afraid to fail all the people that put their trust in her - so she keeps herself very practical and realistic.
May’s family has been through a lot. It’s part of what makes her determined to succeed. Earlier this year, when she participated in a panel in the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation - her parents and friends were in the audience - that’s where she felt her worlds merged together - family, friends & Vee.
May has a very strong sense of people - or in her own words - “Moroccan sense” - to see people’s authentic intentions. It’s a very strong virtue that guides her in business. She also understands the power of being a young CEO - as you understand your target audience inside-out.
May recently came back from the WEACT delegation to Silicon Valley, organized by Darya Henning Shaked, and many more good things that we will hear about soon - are on the way.
So is it a Cinderella story? I don’t think there is a specific time-sensitive or financial milestone that will confirm or deny it - judging by May’s passion, commitment and effort to succeed, grow Vee and bring value. It is inspiring. She definitely has what it takes.