Lior Simon.

"Women tend to feel they need more experience before they become entrepreneurs. You don't"

Lior Simon, General Partner at Cyberstarts, has built her whole career in VCs. She began at the bottom and through hard work and connecting with others made her way up the ladder

Lior Simon, General Partner at Cyberstarts, was brought up to overlook the differences between men and women. “I participated in every kind of sport growing up in the states. And, in my family, there were many leading women that were all hard working.”
Simon was taught from a young age to do whatever you enjoy and are passionate about, to find something that connects to values. “Discussions were never about men or women. I grew up with many cousins, we were very close and the message was always identical, always equal."
Simon's career started at Sequoia Capital, where she initially worked in the back office during her studies of industrial engineering and management. When it came time to leave they asked her to stay on, but in a different role. “As a result of late night conversations with some of the partners where I shared my thoughts and questions they decided to re-organize and I became an analyst. I was the gateway into the fund. I met 100% of companies at the time, which amounted to 1,200 companies a year. It was a real learning experience and a great adventure."
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ליאור סיימון שותפה חדשה ומנכ"ל סייברסטארטס Cyberstarts גילי רענן
ליאור סיימון שותפה חדשה ומנכ"ל סייברסטארטס Cyberstarts גילי רענן
Lior Simon.
(Photo: Yossi Zeliger)
Following Sequoia, in January 2016, Simon started one of the first fintech focused funds in Israel, serving as Head of Israel at Arbor Ventures. She recalls people raising eyebrows questioning the connection between Israel and fintech. “I highly believed in a very focused model. Sequoia was the best brand out there, it was an amazing machine, however, if you are not one of those then being very focused helps you become a better investor and offer more value to your founders."
It was three years later that Simon rejoined forces with Gili (Raanan), her partner at Cyberstarts and former colleague at Sequoia. Cyberstarts is a cybersecurity, early stage venture capital fund which launched in 2018. Simon joined in 2020. “We have three seed funds, fund one is $54 million, fund two and three are $60 million. We also have a $200 million opportunity fund for follow up investments. We invest early. Short of one investment, all of our 17 investments during the point of decision were made while there was no incorporated entity at the time. That is my passion.”
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.
What advice would you offer women who want to make it to the top?
“I would advise women to surround themselves with supportive people. Find mentors that can help lift you up. Stay away from those who don't, they will only hold you back. Women tend to feel they need more experience before they become entrepreneurs. You don't, you can jump into the water just like others before you. And, you can fail and start over, what's important is trying."
Simon thinks for a moment and adds, “you should care less about what people say or think. It is a very hard thing to do but that is exactly why you need supportive people around you. A strong core that can lift you up will help turn the noise off so you can focus on what pushes you forward every day, professionally and also personally. If you look beside or above you and there are no people to learn from, look for the next place or look for those people."
Are you a mentor?
"Yes, I speak to many women. I love helping women find their next role and help portfolio companies hire women. I believe it should be top of mind for everyone. Diversity is crucial, it will help your company succeed.”

How do you juggle your career and your family?
“I have three kids between the ages of two and seven. I manage because I have a husband and family that are supportive," Simon said. “I think quantity matters to a certain degree but quality matters more. What are you doing with the time you do spend with your family? Are you able to put the phone away and be 100% with them? Spending an entire afternoon with your children while you are online or on your phone versus an hour-and-a-half where you are completely with them? I choose the latter. That is the most important thing."