Learning from the best – Startup Mentoring Corner featuring Eran Yarkoni1.4.2019
The second Startup Mentoring Corner event had the privilege of having Eran Yarkoni from Israel Tech Gate as the guest speaker and one-on-one mentor. Startup Tampere met with Eran before the official program, and he shared some interesting insights.
Finland and Israel might be far apart geographically, but there are plenty of similarities between the startup ecosystems. Both are small nations with a limited home market and a vivid startup scene.
“In Israel, the startup funding was established with a government initiative already in the Eighties”, Eran tells us. “This results in a more mature startup scene. Finland, on the other hand, has a valuable asset in its highly regarded educational system.”
Go international or go home
Considering the small home market, Eran has a simple piece of advice.
“You should plan from day one to international market. If you built with Finland in mind, you will remain here”, he says.
“Finland is too small to support a big company, so everything you do from applications to presentations and documents should already be in English.”
According to Eran, a startup should remember a few pointers when going international. “First, I wouldn’t choose a small country. Big country, big market. Another thing is getting a local partner or employees to understand the market. Building the trust is crucial – it’s all about the connections.”
Penetrating foreign markets takes careful consideration. “Especially B2C products require much tailoring for each market, while more technological B2B products are pretty much the same everywhere”, he reminds. “You must understand the investment needed to penetrate the market and consider that against the expected return.”
Eran Yarkoni’s insight comes from the long experience. He started his first technology startup in the late Nineties, when the technology investments were all the rage. “It was easy to get funding then. Nowadays, it would be more difficult”, Eran laughs.
We asked Yarkoni, what kind of mentoring he would have needed when he first started out.
“I made so many mistakes”, he says smiling. “One aspect I completely ignored for a long time is the mental side of things – a young entrepreneur doing things for the first time. So many new things, and the burden of decision.”
Since everyone is in the same situation when they start, Eran urges startups to welcome all outside opinions. “They force you to rethink what you are doing instead of running forward”, he reminds. “You should ask from people who have already been there. Besides, good investors are helpful – which I was lucky to have.”
These days, Eran balances his time with a selected few startups. ”I like to be closely involved”, he says. “I invest very selectively in a very few startups, helping them getting ready for fundraising and spend time looking for new opportunities.”
Eran prefers local companies, as he likes to have face to face meetings on a weekly basis. “There are so much opportunities in Israel with over 6000 active startups – counting only those that already have raised funds!”
Eran has an impressive CV, to say the least, but the 30+ years of experience as a serial entrepreneur and investor aside: what he considers to be his mentoring superpower?
“What I bring is a combination of experience in large as well as small companies and as an investor. I have sat on both sides of the table, so I can strike a balance between their interests and motivations, helping the entrepreneur see what the other side of the table is looking for.”
So, what are Eran’s final words of wisdom to someone planning for their first startup?
“Use all the advice you can get. Listen, keep asking and networking. But in the end, it’s you who makes the decisions, so it must feel right.”
Know what is going on by joining Startup Tampere Slack
Next Startup Mentoring Corner will be organized in autumn 2019 and it is just one example of the events organized by the 6Aika – Ecosystems of Growth project. There are also Startup Meetups and other activities to nurture the local startup ecosystem. The best way to stay in the loop is to join #startuptampere Slack channel – here you will be the first to know what’s going on.
The joint 6-city project called 6Aika – Ecosystems of Growth creates opportunities for startups. The funding comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional council and, in Tampere, also from Tampere city region economic development company Tredea Oy (Business Tampere) and the city of Tampere.