Tag: Israel

A list of goals

Associate professor of marketing Robyn LeBoeuf presented research findings to an eager corporate audience in December at the first Praxis Series breakfast. Attendees were surprised to learn that speaking about goals in terms of weeks rather a specific date appeared to motivate people to take initial action toward pursuing goals.

Robyn LeBoeuf

Robyn LeBoeuf

There is more research to be done, as the Q&A time after her presentation proved. There are many more questions about how wording can affect goal-setting to motivate customers or employees.

LeBoeuf’s presentation included research published in her paper, “The Influence of Time-Interval Descriptions on Goal-Pursuit Decisions”. The paper was a top contender in the  2015 Olin Award competition that honors research that impacts business.

Contact or learn more about Professor LeBoeuf here.

Read previous Praxis and Olin Award papers here.

During a recent trip to Israel, Greg Hutchings, senior advisor in the Weston Career Center visited with four of Olin’s Global Masters of Finance (GMF) students who are working on their Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel.

At the end of their 11 month program, they will also receive a Masters of Science in Finance degree.  At IDC, the students are focused on venture creation and are interning with financial services and venture capital firms. IDC’s Zell Entrepreneurship Program has evolved into an acclaimed venture creation program, providing students with an opportunity to apply advanced entrepreneurial studies to the creation of real business ventures.

We gathered at the Google Campus for Entrepreneurs in Tel Aviv this morning to hear from a founder of Wix.  Wix is a platform that helps average internet users create websites.  The basic premise of the service is that a person goes to a webpage through an easy to use platform.  All it takes to design the website is clicking and dragging on elements such as pictures, text etc. and modifying it on the spot.  Changing the layout just involves clicking and moving components around the screen.  Their tagline is “Easy to customize. No coding.”

Guest Blogger: Jessie is a junior WashU

In 2006, the idea for this website came from two brothers who were accomplished entrepreneurs.  In an apartment on Rothschild Boulevard, they quickly thought of the idea of the webpage.  In 2007, the first investment was made.

A question that investors frequently asked them was “Why are you creating a company for a solved problem.”  In fact, a website similar to theirs existed and was created in 2000.  However, it was messy, unorganized and not easy to use.  This idea is a clear testament that solving a pain point and creating convenience for the consumer can create a great company.

Not all startups have to be revolutionary ideas, and sometimes the best ones just aim to make every day life easier and more efficient. A lot of the backlash, interestingly, came from Israeli investors, and many early investments were made by Americans and Europeans.

As intrinsically motivated entrepreneurs, they kept working on the product.  They followed a very precise, three pronged goal.   First, Wix recognized the need to have a presence as a website.  Creating an easy-to-use platform and in turn having consumers produce great webpages was the goal.  Second, they understood the need for traffic.  Wix has tools to get market for traffic, and allows their consumers to leverage their brand through the Wix user base.  Each site gets about 100,000 exposures per month, and to get that number of exposures through Google ads costs $200,000-$400,000.  Since start ups especially are on such a tight budget, this creates extreme value for a user and incentive for them to use Wix.  Finally, they manage customers through an API that allows companies to be leveraged by each other, and to sell products between small businesses, also creating value.

Needless to say, this concern should have never existed.  The path to success did not come without obstacles, though.  Throughout the time the website has existed, it has pivoted at least 20 times before finding out the best version of the product.  Today, Wix exists in 19 languages, has over 60 million users and creates websites that millions of people are exposed to.  Our speaker stressed that small changes are made every single day, and on average a change is made every 9 minutes.  This innovative mindset confirms why Wix had an IPO in 2013, and continues to grow and improve every single day.

Today was quite a day. We received lectures from four different speakers along the famous Rothchild Boulevard, the heart of Tel Aviv’s financial district. First up today was Ron Gura, who currently works for Aleph VC. He described how he made the switch from being an entrepreneur to being at the on the other side of the negotiations in the role of a venture capitalist.

Guest Blogger: Zach is a sophomore WashU.

Then we heard from Ron Goldi who works for Ajillion which was bought by Crossrider. [Quick side-note: We talked to Goldi on the roof of the Crossrider building, which was simply gorgeous.] Goldi actually made the opposite switch from Gura: Goldi went from being a venture capitalist to an entrepreneur. Hearing from both of these businessmen back-to-back was interesting, as they each had their own reasons for switching jobs. They are perfectly content where they are now. But they both admitted that having been on the other side of the table really helps them now because they can think like the people they negotiate with. That is why it is beneficial to work both sides of the negotiation. What I took away was that this doesn’t just apply to the VC industry. To be successful in negotiations, you must know the perspective of each party involved. Once you have accomplished that, you will be able to achieve success.

After those two speakers, we met with Ran Achituv of Magma VC. Magma is a VC fund that focuses in on early stage tech companies, including Waze. In the funding spectrum, they are somewhere in between a micro-fund and a multi-stage generalist VC fund as they tend to spend between $100 million and $150 million for funding.

Afterwards, we were able to hear from the other side of the funding spectrum: a group of angels called Maverick Ventures. Maverick is basically the complete opposite of Magma. While Magma has probably invested in many startups, Maverick Ventures has only invested in six. They also aim to fund startups with somewhere between $1 million and $3 million, which is a huge difference from Magma, too. But the biggest difference I saw was the unique mindset Maverick had. They believed that while other VC’s may only find success in three out of ten startups, they wanted to be successful with all of their startups.

I have been hearing about different types of funders all throughout my time here, but now I finally was able to clearly differentiate them with these back-to-back presentations of competitors.

Now for our startup app we have been working on in class, we are able to clearly decide which type of funding we want to aim for.

Working on our start-up, we’ve been gradually adding elements to create value and really work through the steps that real entrepreneurs go through. Today’s lesson consisted of learning about the lean start-up method and the business canvas. We took all the topics that we learned about and exercised those methods on our own product. The business model that we worked with was very similar to the tasks that we did in Management 150 at school first semester, but the difference here was, instead of doing the whole process over the course of a semester, we did everything in a fraction of a day.

Something I learned today is that we all have so much more potential than we think. Instead of second-guessing oneself, it’s important to just try things even if failing is an option. We had to work together in our teams with people we may not have interacted with before this summer and we had to get a lot of work done in a little amount of time. After seeing that we are capable of this, I got a surge of confidence. It sounds like a cliché, but if we put our minds to it and really put in the effort, a lot more than we think can get done.

It’s also very inspiring to see the works of others. In this class, we are presenting everyday our new findings and updating the class. This introduces a type of healthy competition to the groups. Instead of doing the bare minimum as many students do in some group projects, each student is striving to do their best so that their group and their idea looks good in front of everyone. The ability to be the one advertising your product makes you put so much more of yourself into the work behind it. I can now better understand the ways of entrepreneurs since I now understand their connection to the products. It really is their baby. We want people on board, we want people to give us feedback, and overall we want them to use it when it’s finished.

One thing that really gave me satisfaction in the work that we’ve done today, was hearing people talk about my group’s product. Having our peers say how useful it would be or how perfect it would be in a certain context is motivation in a sense. Knowing that it is a viable product drives me to do so much more with this. And who knows, maybe we will be able to take this all the way.