At ICONic Innovation Week, the largest Israeli tech summit in Silicon Valley, we hosted a Dinner and Dialogue with Silicon Valley Investors on September 24 at Wing’s new offices in Palo Alto. The dinner was co-led by Jake Flomenberg at Wing, Oren Yunger at GGVC, and Yoav Samet at StageOne and included Israeli tech founders in a closed-door, frank and productive discussion on Israeli entrepreneurship.
The key theme was how to “cross the Atlantic” for an Israeli company: how to build a U.S. presence, who to move from Israel to U.S. and in what timeframe, how to sell to U.S. enterprises, and how to and when to hire a U.S. sales team including a VP of Sales. In addition, we covered topics of venture capital, M&A, and IPO.
The conversation also included the personal aspects of entrepreneurship, such as the founder’s family. As a memorable example, one entrepreneur posited a question on whether “their children will be American, rather than Israeli, if they move to the U.S.”
Below are summary, anonymized moderator notes from the session. We would like to thank GGVC, StageOne, and ICON for a great evening and discussion.
What is your advice on U.S. presence: who, in what timeframe, and where?
Each company is different. In general, I have not met an entrepreneur who has said, “I moved from Israel to U.S. too soon.”
Who should be first hire for U.S. sales? How does an “unknown Israeli company” attract a U.S. VP of Sales?
First enterprise sales should be founder-led and founder-driven. First hire is most often an individual contributor to support the founder, rather than a VP of Sales.
How is selling to U.S. enterprises different than selling to Israeli or European enterprises?
The cultures and sales cycles are different. For example, relationships across a U.S. customer prospect are often critical in the sales process.
How much capital should founders raise in Israel prior to raising money in the U.S.?
Again, each company is different. In general, we recommend raising a Series A from a top-tier investor in Silicon Valley, which means having moved to U.S. months before.
90% of Israeli exits are still M&A. How do Israeli founders balance considering early acquisitions vs. building long-term companies?
Israel has the third-most companies on NASDAQ, behind U.S. and China. A mindset of thinking and going long is the key.