Shay Doron, Principal at AND Ventures.

“Dare to dream, it is the catalyst that starts everything”

Shay Doron, Principal at AnD Ventures, excelled on the basketball court, becoming Israel's first WNBA player. The teamwork and comradery that made her one of the country's most successful basketball players also ultimately led her to an early-stage fund

Since she was 12, Shay Doron, Principal at AnD Ventures, had the dream of becoming the first Israeli basketball player in the WNBA, the American Women's National Basketball Association. However, upon reaching her goal of getting drafted, the epitome of everything she worked for, the dream blew up in her face. “I underestimated how political it would be and the level at which we were treated. We had games where we would fly with connections (this was before there were so many charter flights), and go from the airport to the court with no sleep, no real food and then be expected to perform at a top level. It was disappointing. Also, I made a joke salary."
Doron soon burned out. “For women players, you play in the WNBA from May to September then you play in Europe from September to May so that you can make real money. You end up working all the time.”
Doron decided to move back to Israel and upon her return signed with Ramle, which was a very good team at the time. On the team, she was requested to play in a more ‘Israeli fashion’ and when she did not comply she was benched completely. Only after a few of her teammates left the team did she return to the rotation and even ended up winning the MVP that year. “It took a lot of effort to convince them I was not planning on standing on the side as I am one of the best players in the world. The next season, I came back to the WNBA with a ton of confidence and they said I would still not play much as they had just drafted this girl and wanted to prove they made a good choice. That is where I realized it's not for me.”
1 View gallery
Shay Doron Principal at AND Ventures
Shay Doron Principal at AND Ventures
Shay Doron, Principal at AND Ventures.
(Eyal Toueg)
Towards the end of her 20s, Doron felt she needed to reinvent herself. She had saved some money and began investing in startups as an angel and as an LP in funds. Her father comes from the field and she found she loved it. “It's competitive with other VCs, and I love the thrill of the game.” However, Doron didn't know in what direction to take her career. She tried many things and eventually, she did her MBA at Reichman University and had a failed attempt at being a startup founder. “I felt it important to understand the other side of the business, feel the hardships. Today, I run dealflow and people are surprised when I call them with feedback. It's because I think it's important not to do what was done to me.”
Reichman University gave her the confidence to send her CV to companies she would have never tried for previously. “I was looking for a job that would keep me in startups and also teach me things I don't know while working with good people. I kept thinking there was no way I was getting the job. They were positions that were very financial orientated and I did not come from a financial background.” Doron, however, ended up getting a job at Silicon Valley Bank. “It was shocking, and very difficult. I had to learn everything. One day, my boss, Tamir Efrati, asked me how I am doing and I said not good. I don't know finance and I am in a financial position. To his credit, he offered me an hour of his time every week to learn accounting. That turned the page for me. Up until then I was memorizing instead of understanding. He is my mentor and I really appreciate him. He could have easily given up on me. He understood the athlete in me and the team comradery I could bring which can't be taught, and what I needed to learn he taught me."
After two years, Doron realized the position included too many Excel files and not enough human contact for her and she landed a position at AnD Ventures where she feels that finally, she has found the role for her.
AnD Ventures was founded in 2021, has $60 million under management, and is a studio-based fund investing in pre-Seed and Seed stages, where most of the pre-Seed dealflow comes from the studio. Ten startups join per year and benefit from tailor-made assistance.
Doron was born in Israel and at the age of three moved to Dallas, Texas where her father worked at Texas Instruments. She lived there for four years before moving to New York and finally, returning to Israel. “Coming back was a culture shock, I couldn't even get on a bus. I was heavy into sports by this time and back then, in Ramat Hasharon, there were two options: tennis and basketball. I chose basketball because of the team and the comradery."
At one point, at the age of 12, Doron got noticed by a coach who took her under her wing. “She brought me through all the levels and I slowly fell in love and saw improvement." By the age of 13, Doron set her sights on becoming the first Israeli to play in the WNBA. “I wanted to prove I was one of the best in the world and that is what would prove that to me. I set that as a goal early on.”
During those days, pre social media, if you wanted to get drafted you needed to live in the U.S. so Doron and her parents left her older sister, who was soon to be enlisted in the army, and moved back to New York. “I moved back at the age of 15 and, if I have to pinpoint one of the hardest moments in my life, it would have been that. I questioned myself. I was like the queen of Ramat Hasharon and I left my friends and teammates that were like sisters to me for a very competitive environment. It was really hard and I was leaning on my parents a lot."
Doron pauses to explain just how much she appreciates her parents, and how much she relied on them from an early age. “If I would have gone back alone I don't think I would have made it.” After two years and being named ‘player of the year’, Doron had her pick at any college. “My debate was three pronged; Harvard, a good school where I would be just another good player or go to a team that was not doing well and transform it. Of course I chose Maryland, which was the crazy option. At the time they were one of the worst teams in the country. I met the coach and bought into her vision. I didn't want to be a good player amongst others on a good team. I wanted to pave my own path."
As a freshman, Doron’s goal was the NCAA national championship and when she told the media she got laughed at. “I said, if we can’t dream it, it will never happen. By my third year we had won the national championship, we were number one in the country. My jersey is still up in the rafters and the team is still doing well, even today."
CTech's She-VC series follows the stories of various female partners and senior managers in venture capital funds in Israel. Only 16% of partners in Israeli venture capital firms are women, and only 9% are investing partners. This poses a liability regarding how many female founders will be able to receive investments and it speaks to the industry as a whole.
How do you balance being a mother and your career?
“Having my child is the hardest thing I have ever done by far and I am sad when I don't make it home in time. I feel guilty a lot. However, I spend weekends with my family. I work hard to make sure my daughter starts life above average, that she starts from the third or fourth floor and not from the basement. I really make it a point to be home before she is asleep and at AnD I am able to do that 80% of the time."
When asked if she would be happy if her daughter played basketball, Doron replied: “I want her to do whatever she wants, however, she is already dunking,” Doron said with a smile, before sticking out her tongue and adding: “I also taught her the Michael Jordan tongue habit. I want her to be healthy and to love sports, it will give her so much."

Who is your role model?
“In basketball, it was Becky Hammon, not because of the way she played but because of how much she was an underdog and how she became one of the best players despite being less physically able and not coming from a top school.” Doron pauses and adds: “In life in general, it would be my parents. They taught me how to work hard, communicate, love, and be a good person. I didn't have to look for it anywhere else."
What tip would you offer young women starting off?
“Dare to dream. You don't go through life with everything being perfect and it's okay to be scared. Some people don't know how to dream. However, dreaming is the catalyst that starts everything.”