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Interview

An Entrepreneur Is Like a Professional Basketball Player, Says Serial Entrepreneur Shlomo Kramer

Kramer, who previously co-founded firewall pioneer Check Point, cybersecurity company Imperva, and anti-fraud company Trusteer, is the co-founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity company Cato Networks

Maayan Manela 09:0505.08.19
An entrepreneur is like a professional basketball player, according to Shlomo Kramer, co-founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based cybersecurity company Cato Networks Ltd. “Basketball players don’t just want to win, they really love to play,” Kramer said in a recent interview with Calcalist. It is more than a job or even a career, Kramer said; entrepreneurs have to really love what they are doing.

 

Founded in 2015 by Kramer and Gur Shatz, Cato Networks is the latest in a long line of startups and companies Kramer helped establish. Firewall pioneer Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., cybersecurity company Imperva Inc., and anti-fraud company Trusteer Inc., acquired by IBM in 2013, are among the ventures he co-founded.

 

Shlomo Kramer. Photo: Amit Sha'al Shlomo Kramer. Photo: Amit Sha'al

 

 

Cato Networks provides software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) security and reports a customer base of over 400 enterprises.

 

Referring to one of the major challenges faced by Israeli startups—the lack of highly skilled tech workers and increasing competition for talent from multinational giants—Kramer said his dedication to the company as an experienced entrepreneur may give employees a sense that working for Cato Networks may be a good bet. “If I’m willing to bet 100% of my time on it, maybe in 10 years it will be a meaningful line in their resumes.”

 

People also come to work at a certain company to have fun and to feel that they are doing something worthwhile with their time, Kramer said, adding that this is an experience best gained in a startup where there is a strong sense of belonging.

 

 

As an investor, Kramer backed dozens of startups with hundreds of millions of dollars, some of the more prominent being secure file-sharing company WatchDox Ltd., acquired by BlackBerry in 2015, mobile applications company Worklight Inc., acquired by IBM in 2012, and cyber threat detection startup LightCyber Ltd. acquired by Palo Alto Networks in 2017.

 

The founding team is the most important aspect of any startup, Kramer said. “Most startups end up doing something other than the idea they initially pitched,” he explained. “To be able to deal with hardships, to look reality in the eye, process it in a healthy way, and be able to do all that as a group, without falling apart, requires entrepreneurs to have a very specific personality,” he said. “It takes very high stamina, intellectual integrity, and a combination of the ego necessary to found a startup and the humility required to be able to work with other people as a team,” he said. “These are all very important characters for the success of a startup.”
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