Yael Eckstein, Director of Marketing at StageOne Ventures
As part of the Female Founders’ program, we have been running at the fund, which has led us to meet over 90+ founders in the past two years, we decided to introduce you to some of the founders we met from both Israel and the US. They are all in different industries and stages, and have impressed us with their company, leadership, and drive.
I think the most amazing thing about this program is that we keep in touch and have ongoing relationships with many of these founders, after initially meeting. This, so as to hear about their companies’ growth, connect to relevant investors, assist when we can, and have follow-up meetings to go over their progress.
For this article, we spoke to 5 female founders and asked them what inspired them to start their ventures. We also discussed the challenges they faced as female founders, and of course, their secrets to success.
Article in cTech: https://bit.ly/3Jrkls2
Can you tell us a bit about DrizzleX: DrizzleX provides full transparency about water usage in multifamily buildings, down to the level of individual usage points … and in real-time. It speeds up the process of pinpointing leaks and identifies possible misuse. It’s also a smart submetering solution. Compatible with all plumbing infrastructure styles and highly cost-effective, it’s especially useful for buildings where the existing plumbing is routed through one central meter.
What inspired you to develop your idea? I have spent decades in multifamily investments and property management. I witnessed much-wasted water and a lack of accountability on the tenants’ side, especially in multifamily buildings that lack individual water meters. It is against my DNA as an Israeli to wastewater, and it hurts the property’s bottom line. I spent years searching for a solution to encourage water conservation and place water responsibility on tenants. My background as a software engineer and a project manager, and Ariel’s background in engineering and product design, allowed us to develop a high-tech solution to manage water in the built world.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced (if you have), regarding building a company as a female founder? Working in a male-dominated environment, especially with a hardware-based startup.
What are the secrets to your success? Working very very hard. 18 hours daily. Being intimately familiar with the subject matter, to understand the customer’s needs and connect with anyone who offers advice. Collecting believers along the way. Above all — family support.
What do you want to achieve next? Scale DrizzleX up. We are finalizing the funding round and the money will be allocated towards hiring additional C-level employees and business development personnel. We also want to continue with R&D to enhance our HW, SW, and communication components, and keep working with cities and governments to adapt DrizzleX. We want to do all of this to prepare for the major growth that we anticipate for the next 2 to 3 years.
What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? Focus, self-confidence, flexibility, creativity, charisma, leadership, high energy, motivation, and the ability to juggle. Additionally, they must be a team player, people’s person, hopelessly optimistic, and have both high energy and thick skin.
Yael Eckstein from StageOne tells us one thing she learned from each founder: I first met Ester in June 2020 and since then we have been in touch every few months, to hear updates about the company and see where I can assist. Ester started DrizzleX with her Son Ariel not only to provide a business solution for water usage in multifamily buildings but to address a much larger problem which is the massive waste of water, no matter where you live. One of the things we always say as investors are that the first rule is to always Invent in People! A Startup depends on the people who run it. When you are dealing with many start-ups, you realize that the major difference between them isn’t necessarily about the technology, it’s about the people behind the idea. Ester built a company with her son, which on the first thought isn’t always the easier thing, but they have managed to complete each other when it comes to building a business and that is something we can learn a lot from.
Article in cTech: https://bit.ly/3Jrkls2
Can you tell us a bit about Frenn: Frenn is a Talent Relationship Management Platform (TRMP) for “people-obsessed” companies. Frenn discovers high potential talents and supports managers in developing high-performing teams and leadership. Frennn provides talent health checks and increases talent density to stay ahead of today’s workforce challenges.
What inspired you to develop your idea? Surprisingly (or not), Frenn started as a diversity advocacy mentoring program, following my experience as the “only” female leader in my previous roles in high-tech companies. I became obsessed with helping women achieve their potential at the top and throughout their careers. I still am. Learning about the challenges, I understood that I was looking at a much more widespread problem, and the “new normal” has affected companies struggling to keep their employees from job-hopping that much more.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced (if you have), regarding building a company as a female founder? Personally, I don’t feel that I face challenges as a female founder. On the contrary, I have met and talked to so many phenomenal female founders, each one more inspiring and eager to help than the next. Unfortunately, statistics tell a different story… established female leaders and founders in high-tech companies (at least in Israel) make up less than 5% of the total founder/executive leadership population. I am still trying to figure out how this reality checks out.
What are the secrets to your success? One of the main secrets — not a big secret at all — is to create a win-win with every person I work with: team members, peers, partners, and investors. I genuinely believe this is the only “secret” to success.
What do you want to achieve next? I want to be the Salesforce of talent management. I believe this is the next big thing after Sales and Product-centric companies. Now, it’s time to focus on the people factor: talents.
What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? The ability to listen and be agile. I can’t even count how many times we’ve changed our product, target audience, strategy, and GTM. I’ve even circled back to investors and prospects more than once, asking to re-do our pitch. This is mainly because I am constantly talking to our prospects, peers, investors, advisors, learning about their opinions, and finding the best market fit to solve our prospects’ most critical pains and problems.
Yael Eckstein from StageOne tells us one thing she learned from each founder: Hila is someone who I value very much. She started Frenn to solve a problem that so many companies are facing today! How to not only retain your employees but give them that added value as well and understand how to grow company culture. I believe Hila brings a unique perspective to the business problem as she is solving it based on the experiences she has had up until this point and understands the value of doing things right.
Article in cTech: https://bit.ly/3rIwkLT
Can you tell us a bit about reTravel: reTravel is a machine learning-powered cross-selling platform that creates and maximizes new revenue streams for travel companies. We help travel companies significantly increase their revenues and loyalty, with just 10 minutes of onboarding.
What inspired you to develop your idea? While working for a SaaS travel-tech company that handled over 100 online and offline travel agencies, we noticed that although they had first-party data, they were struggling to sell travel products, besides for flights and hotels. They normally had two options: invest a lot of money and build their own solution — risking critical resources (time and money) or, turn to affiliate programs — reducing their potential revenue and even risking losing their travelers. We meshed our vast experience in marketing and travel to offer a better solution that was simple and powerful. Travel agencies and Airlines can now fulfill their travelers’ needs with the reTravel white label solution. They enjoy low risk, high returns, and increased retention, with no effort of their own.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced (if you have), regarding building a company as a female founder? Over the last few years, there has been great progress for female founders… but there is still a long way to go. Sometimes, I find myself in situations I’m sure a male founder would never experience.
What are the secrets to your success? They’re secrets! As a leading team, we always put the customers and the start-up first. We are fierce, result-driven, and focused on the human factor when thinking about our customers and our team. Timing is also crucial.
What do you want to achieve next? In 2021, we focused on inception and innovation. For that, we were selected as one of the hottest TravelTech start-ups for 2022. On the technology side, we are now focusing on self-onboarding for suppliers and customers, and are fine-tuning our machine learning models. On the business side, we will continue investing and growing our team, both on R&D, Sales, and Operations.
What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? Resilience — You need to be able to keep going, withstand bounce-back, and adapt to any challenge at different stages of the business (which is much easier said than done). Surround yourself with the right people, those who fit your DNA and human puzzle.
Yael Eckstein from StageOne tells us one thing she learned from each founder: Pitching is storytelling, and good storytelling means opening with a bang. I remember when I first met Revital, I was wowed by the way she presented reTravel. It was the midth of Corona and Travel was at a standstill, but I clearly remember her presentation, the way she approached the problem, market, user feedback, and technology. All based on data while showing us exactly how their solution is solving a large challenge in travel companies.
Article in cTech: https://bit.ly/34IAtXp
Can you tell us a bit about RadGreen: RadGreen is a cloud-based environmental quality monitoring and alerting platform. It tracks air quality, pollutants, viral index, thermal comfort, noise, and radiation parameters — 24/7, indoors and outdoors. Users access real-time results and gain actionable recommendations to improve the health and safety of their buildings and provide transparency to tenants, employees, and customers.
What inspired you to develop your idea? We were looking for environmental information for personal use and did not find a good solution.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced (if you have), regarding building a company as a female founder? Raising money is probably more challenging. There is a need to prove your ability and professional knowledge to gain trust, from the first moments of the conversation.
What are the secrets to your success? Resilience and persistence. We have a great product that provides value to our customers, and we intend to grow even further.
What do you want to achieve next? RadGreen recently started its expansion to North America. We will raise funds to grow in the US this year.
Yael Eckstein from StageOne tells us one thing she learned from each founder: Sigalits cloud-based environmental quality monitoring and alerting platform is something we are seeing more and more corporates and facility/property management companies looking into to create a safer and healthier work environment. Sigalit sees exactly how communication is key, especially when it comes to fundraising, you can see that they understand the overall investment process and how it works. This is also visible when it comes to feedback and how founders keep an open mind and acknowledge feedback, but more crucially, figure out what to do with it.
Article in cTech: https://bit.ly/3Jrkls2
Can you tell us a bit about Foodom: How many times did you find yourself asking “What’s for dinner” at 6 PM? At Foodom, everyone’s private chef marketplace, we are connecting vetted chefs to cook 1–2 times a week in busy families’ kitchens, for less than the cost of DoorDash. Our mission is to make dinnertime joyful, full of excitement — every day, in every household, and travel rental. This is a $3T market in the US alone. Our public beta is life in Los Angeles, the Bay area, and the greater Sacramento area, with a growing waitlist. We plan to launch and expand to new areas later this year. Try us out at www.myfoodom.com.
What inspired you to develop your idea? The main thing that led to building Foodom was my personal desire to have the right outsourcing solution for a healthy and tasty way to feed my family. I grew up focusing on career development and business; I never learned to cook and didn’t have the desire to learn, but I cared about healthy nutrition. After a long search, I found a young local chef who came to our home to cook for us, and she changed our life. One evening, as I was walking with our comptroller to our respective cars in the Intel parking, he was complaining about the time and his lack of time to cook dinner. I told him that, as we spoke, there was a chef in my kitchen, cooking dinner for the whole week. She will be done by the time I got home, and it costs me only $150 per week. He was shocked by the low price and made me realize that there is a huge untapped market opportunity here. But the thing that really made me quit my job at Intel and build Foodom, was when this chef left us for a month when she traveled to India. Our life collapsed without her, and I decided that we must have a platform with lots of chefs so that we — and other families — would never be left in the lurch.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced (if you have), regarding building a company as a female founder? I don’t look at myself as a female founder; I consider myself a founder. In my early days in corporate, I asked a female EVP how she got to her role and overcome the glass ceiling. She asked me “What ceiling?” She said that she had great sponsors who appreciate her work and opened doors for her. She inspired me to focus on what I want to achieve, rather than on potential limitations. I embraced this approach and shifted to focus on conscious leadership, working with mentors and coaches to break my limiting beliefs to reach new heights, on both personal and professional levels. I am grateful for our wonderful growing team, experienced and well-connected investors and advisors, and incredible founding users, those who support our growth, so we can solve painful problems in an innovative way, and make the world a better place.
What are the secrets to your success? I learned a few things early on in my life that changed the way I look at the world. I always loved writing, and one day, I picked up an Israeli women’s magazine, called Nashim. I loved each and every article; it was the best one I read so far. I saw the editor’s name in the magazine, alongside a phone number by her name. I don’t know what got into me, but I called her. She picked up the phone, and I told her what I thought about the magazine and thanked her. She offered me to write in the magazine, and this is how I became a journalist (as a side gig). I ended up getting a cover story and later writing a quarterly web magazine for Yediot Tikshoret. I learned from that that everything is possible with an open, positive attitude, and the courage to connect to people and ask for what I want. Surprisingly, most of the time I got a yes. I also learned to think big.
What do you want to achieve next? I want to bring Foodom to achieve product-market fit and then scale it globally so as to create new jobs for people — including women and immigrants — improve people’s health and happiness and provide everyone access to affordable healthy food.
What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? A good entrepreneur is passionate, ambitious, and a visionary; they have the grit to persist, overcome challenges, quickly bounce back from situations, and learn from failures. They also need to be resilient, excellent operators that get things done, convincing, and able to move mountains. Thinking outside of the box is a given, as is the ability to learn new things quickly. Founders hear a lot of advice, lots of different opinions that might pull them in different directions. They must stay centered, focused, be confident, understand business nuances, and keep driving to the next milestone, leading to the bigger vision down the road. They must hire the right people and let them do their magic.
Yael Eckstein from StageOne tells us one thing she learned from each founder: Reneta has been in high tech for years and knows the ins and outs of the industry. She started Foodom to solve an issue close to her heart and family. She was building a solution for both sides; for people who love to cook, and also want to work in it, and for people who do not always have the time, desire, or ability to cook. It’s all about Passion! and this is something you don’t miss when you speak to Reneta about Foodom. We believe that one of the most critical ingredient for a startup founder is passion. It’s about solving problems you believe in, going big into finding a better solution and using your passion to recruit others to your cause.
About the Female Founders Office Hours program:
StageOne Ventures is continuously looking to invest our time and resources so that your innovation gets the support, networking, and know-how it needs to get funded. “The Female Founders Office Hours Program” is your opportunity to springboard to the next level. The program involves a one-on-one meeting in our offices with our managing partners and team, so you can connect, hear the company’s pitch, and obtain concrete advice, consult, and network. We would be happy to mentor on any topic you need advice on, including product, strategy, technology, G2M, financing, and funding.
To book a meeting, click here.