20-Minute Leaders“You always have the desire to get somewhere, but you need to remember to enjoy the way there.”
“You always have the desire to get somewhere, but you need to remember to enjoy the way there.”
While it is often easy today to leave a job when it gets tough, VCITA's Ehud Yalin-Mor says that sometimes people need to be patient and stick with it.
While it is often easy today to leave a job when it gets tough, Ehud Yalin-Mor says that sometimes people need to be patient and stick with it. He shares that you can get a lot out of a job if you make it through the highs and lows. Yalin-Mor has experienced this himself at VCITA, which he joined more than ten years ago. He has held several roles and is currently senior vice president of WiseStamp at VCITA. He explains that when evaluating whether to stay, he asks how much he has learned this year and expects to learn next year. His goal is to keep growing while keeping the core of who he is unchanged. Yalin-Mor explains that he has the desire to succeed, but he tries to enjoy the journey as well. He says that liking the people around you and having fun are important.
I think they say that the average person spends roughly 1.5 to 3 years at a company, and you've pretty much quadrupled that assumption, which says a lot about you and the company.
To be honest, besides that I didn't think it would be 11 years, to some extent it was 1.5 years in each company because at each stage the company is different. Part of it is VCITA and great people, but part of it is growing and changing with the company.
Tell me a little bit about VCITA as a company, and then I would love to understand internally these transitions from tech lead to VP R&D, chief revenue officer, and senior vice president at WiseStamp.
VCITA started when blogging was still very common as a way for bloggers to get more revenue, and then we got to scheduling. Many companies start at a niche and then they grow to a platform; that's what happened to VCITA. We found our customers being small business owners, micro businesses, especially service providers. And then we grew to a platform that provides payment collection, scheduling, CRM, everything together.
You're saying that you feel like you've worked a year and a half, two years at four different companies. How did these transitions create the sense that you're working for different companies?
We started off subleasing an office with two rooms. I think that was probably the most fun part of it. I was working before that in Kaltura. It was back then a hundred people or so, and I thought I could influence. But pretty quickly I understood that in a startup with a hundred employees, it's really hard to make an impact. I thought it's time to take the risk, and I found Itzik Levy through a mutual friend.
The beginning was really exciting. You don't know where you're going. Then, each time when you move and more people join, that is the transition, the people you work with. It's like different companies in that sense: you work with different people.
We can't hide the fact that in the last few years we’ve got terms like the "great resignation.” Still, during this time, you're saying, "I'm okay.” Obviously, you had opportunities, yet you still make a decision.
One thing that I always ask myself is how much have I learned in the past year and how much am I going to learn in the next year. But at the same time, I think that patience is underrated these days. We had different periods in VCITA, highs and lows. If you have patience, I think that you get a lot out of it at the end. Many times, people quit or change too early. If they have the patience, they would capitalize on that.
Going back to your most recent transition to being senior vice president of WiseStamp with VCITA. Back to the acquisition, what was different about this situation strategically or something that was non-trivial?
I was with VCITA for seven years when Itzik came to me with an opportunity to acquire WiseStamp. He asked me to do the due diligence there. Usually, you are on the acquired side, people do the due diligence for you. It was really interesting to meet the team. It was 15 people in total including freelancers. The main idea there was to create synergy towards lead generation. WiseStamp is an email signature generator and manager. You wouldn't guess that there is interesting business out of it. We thought we could take that and cross sell to VCITA from that traffic.
After acquiring WiseStamp, besides getting some synergy, we actually found out the potential of WiseStamp as a business is much bigger than we thought. Since then, we have really accelerated. We are now 50 people within VCITA.
Most people have the research done on them. Besides the numbers and the trajectories, are there some non-trivial things that you've figured out that are really relevant to a process like this?
I'm not sure I've reflected on that. When I started the process, I created a document documenting the process and trying to put your recommendation in writing. To me, it was creating the thesis of "can it work?" One of the most significant parts was actually the people; we met people and we saw sincerity and the potential. There were similarities in culture. We felt there are some similarities between VCITA and WiseStamp.
How do you gauge that?
It’s going to the office and the feeling there. To be honest, it's hard to say. It's a feeling that it can work, the feeling we get with our people that you see that the connection is there.
What was the experience like growing the business while the company is now a child company of another one?
At the beginning, my first job was making people feel comfortable. The people of WiseStamp got me accepted really well. I felt really comfortable with leading the team in WiseStamp. I joined the new company at that point. At the beginning, you try to learn and say less until you understand the business.
Quite quickly, we saw that they are under-investing in marketing, in the product. We started investing in going upmarket, so in larger companies. As we went on, the conviction grew. Now we actually signed the first Fortune 500 company for WiseStamp.
Joining leadership of a team when you're previously VCITA and now you're mainly WiseStamp, were there things that you did intentionally to make it a bigger success?
Like everything in life, part of it is just luck. Most of the team stayed. I know now that some of them said, "I'll stick in for a year and then I'll see." Now, we're two and a half years later. It's about creating those connections and creating success together. The more success we created, the more we felt that we're working together.
VCITA is a bigger company, and we have the infrastructure and the HR and finance working really well. But at the same time, we have the luxury of being a smaller organization within VCITA. We have this feeling of togetherness. It's mostly about the people and working together and having fun together. I know it's a cliche, but that's the truth.
What did you learn about yourself in those 12 years?
I wasn't a dad when I joined VCITA. I wasn't married. Those are very significant years. I think I learned to trust my instincts. It takes some time to understand that your thinking and your instincts are taking you to the right place.
There's a lot of things in terms of management, working with people. Being more patient with other people and listening more: it takes time to get that it's important to listen and be more calm even when you have this intensity. In some sense, I feel that I'm the same person, but in other sense, everything changed. It's this like keeping the core and learning and changing at the same time.
I believe the statistic is that the vast majority of acquisitions fail because the integration fails. A lot of people are talking about how technological integration fails, but really, it's about people.
Being at a place for 11 years, obviously you want to create success. I think you always have the desire to get somewhere, but at the same time, you need to remind yourself to enjoy the way there. We are competitive, and we want to grow and do more. But at the same time, my best time at VCITA was probably until we were 30 people. It was the most fun.
Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University, is a Venture Partner at J-Ventures and was an engineer at Hippo Insurance. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.
Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Megan Ryan