Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Women In Tech: Sol Tzvi On Starting A Startup...

Posted by Guest Writer - August 30, 2010

[Sol Tzvi is head of Genieo, an Israeli startup. She shares her story of starting a startup.]

By Sol Tzvi, CEO of Genieo

As a young CEO and Co-founder of a startup company I often find myself thinking of the path I chose and the destination I lead myself to.

Thinking of all those lonely times, when I'm traveling around the world in the middle of the night - sometimes even in the middle of nowhere really; crossing the world from one corner to another; scheduling meetings with different people from different cultures; speaking in a foreign language which forces me to concentrate not only on what I have to say but also on how to build a proper sentence, all in the cause of reaching out and touching these different cultures.

This is my idea of living: exploring, learning, teaching others, sharing thoughts and ideas, braking rules and lines I locked myself in years ago without even noticing, growing day by day and becoming the person I am today, re-inventing myself to with every new dawn - every day I am the person I am that day.

Our definition of ourselves as people is based on our past: past behavior, past experiences, past achievements. And yet, is observing a prior behavior really the best approach to understand who we really are? Well, to some extent - yes. But then this could lead us to live in a false impression and view of ourselves. After all, we humans are only trying to simplify complex questions, such as who we are.

Can we really do it?

Ordinarily, we'll try to answer these questions with reference to our past achievements in life as oppose to our qualities, capabilities and skills. We've all heard stories of people who suddenly found a new hobby at which they really excel. One starts painting at the age of 60, another starts playing the guitar at the age of 50.

Talent is most of all about faith, will power, practice and a hard work. So yes, one can live up to his dreams by having strong faith, powerful will and diligence. Easy to say - after all, I must admit myself to accommodating a lazy demon inside of me as well as anyone. I do like to do the things I love, and the things I love come fairly easy to me most of the time - easier than other things anyway.

Yes, I could fool myself and fall into this magic circle of doing only the easy things, but instead I chose to break this circle, free my mind and dare to dream.

I keep reminding myself that every light, bright or faint, begins with a spark of the freedom of dreaming, and the courage to believe. That is the difference between the creator and his opposite, the eliminator.

The creator and the eliminator

I think about every great idea I ever had along the years, and of the obstacles which stood in my way to realize them. I could start a company 10 or 15 years ago. So what was it that was so different two and a half years ago, at the moment when Genieo was only an idea in my mind, not even a dream?

Insight and instincts - your guides on the journey

Whenever I felt I had a good idea, I used to go to people I admire and consult them upon it, in hope to get some kind of approval to my insane concepts. 100% of the time, the feedback I got was that it's impossible to technically do, impossible to monetize, impossible to raise the money for it... All those clever peers of mine, those great company employees simply told me to forget about it, and that it won't work.

It took me nearly 10 years to see that those ideas of mine were actually possible; unfortunately however, it happened only by way of it coming to my attention when someone else had realized them. Some of those ideas proved to be rather good ones and made their developers very successful.

So what was it that made my friends tell me my ideas were impossible? Was it me? Maybe I failed to communicate my thoughts properly? Or was it a matter of bad timing?

In fact, throughout the years I began to realize that many of my ideas involved instincts that I had in me, instincts that kicked so strong and became in away part of reality - a reality I saw but they did not.

There were things that were so clear to me and I didn't even bother to explain, because they were so obvious in my vision. Well, it appears that sometimes there's a big difference between consulting with any of your peers and consulting with someone who's actually realized his dreams already.

Your peers can never be a good starting point. They are working for all those great corporations, and are imprisoned within this false transparent wall which prevents their minds from roaming free. Your peers can become innovators, they can be creative, they can posses a great variety of skills, and they can be very willing - But they too often will lack faith.

But don't get me wrong, I do think that one should seek other people's opinion, learn from it, embrace good advice as one lives through this journey. However, one should never lose his faith and should always listen to his inner voice and let himself be guided by it.

If you are a problem solver, you will find your way. You do not need to figure out and have all the details lined up ahead from the start. Even if you could do it, I would advise against it, as things have a way of changing around us, and we must keep our eyes wide open and move very consciously step by step, from one point to the next; most of the time, the idea we've started with will become something else along this journey; a product may turn out to be quite different from the one we've thought of at the beginning; we may come across a different methodology of solving the problems we set out to solve.

Many a time, success will present itself actually when what you've created will seem to have nothing to do with the plans you made for it at the beginning your journey. Sometimes, you may even find that your consumers will redefine your product for you by the way they chose to use it.

So let the world surprise you, let people around you become creative and innovative, let them grow and spread with the seeds you plant. It will make the things you yourself do even better.

(Part 2 is here.)


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