#INNOCHAT with Mor Eini — Innovation Program Manager at GTEC
Mor Eini is managing the EU ecosystem leaders and scaleup program and the NO BULLSHIT LAB (German Tech Entrepreneurship Center) in Berlin and Frankfurt. Before that, Mor was the Investment and Program Manager at hub:raum Israel (Deutsche Telekom’s incubator & investment vehicle). Prior to her position at DT, she was working as the community manager of EcoMotion: Global Community for Innovative Smart Transportation in Israel.
She has also served as a captain in the Israeli Defense Force. Mor Eini has a double Bachelors Degree in International Relations and the Middle East and Islamic Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
What do you think are the biggest difficulties that startups face in terms of access to the market? What would the possible solution be?
The decision about when to scale and expand is complicated and risky. Entering new markets has many advantages but we should always balance them with the disadvantages and challenges. If you’re looking to scale from market to market, the first and most fundamental questions you have to answer are: where should you go and what level of resources you should pour into each new location? I believe that there are no wrong or right answers but before we are taking that step we need to make sure we are aware of a few important topics:
It might seem like an obvious statement but having a functional business model and an ability to cover expenses are critical components before any serious expansion efforts. The cost of doing business in any market is heavily dependent on local transportation, energy, technology, and financial services. These components can totally change your customer value proposition or the business model that you have honed. Re-validate your business model in every market.
Talk about it with people who have made that move. Don’t just follow success stories, but also failures of companies that tried to do it and it didn’t work for them. It’s important to have a broad perspective from other people that tried it — in your market destination but also in other places. Ask investors and get their insights and input. But eventually, listen to your guts!
The most common mistake is overestimating a particular market’s potential, based on your point of view. Foreign markets don’t always have information available about the market, its needs and other factors. All of this can be a great setup for failure. Do more local homework! The business culture and habits often dictate business roles, procedures, and customer expectations. The local culture affects not only the decisions an entrepreneur must make, but also how a market views the company. The best strategy is to engage with people in the local market and manage your business from there. We need to remember that no one city is exactly like another. What’s true for residents is also true for businesses.
Where do you see GTEC in five years?
It’s a very good questions. I’m not sure I can provide the answer. We live in an era that changes dramatically all the time. Companies that were relevant not so long ago, have disappeared and we see more and more small companies competing with the big dinosaurs and making them rethink their business model and market strategy. My wish and hope for GTEC is that we will keep being dynamic and flexible from one hand, and from the other, will stay true to our roots and keep it simple and approachable with the local ecosystems and markets. That we will be able to understand the needs of corporations and SMEs and create bridges and efficient processes with younger and smaller companies that hopefully will bring more innovation, efficiency and digitalization for the individuals.
With the digital revolution, it does seem like the majority of startups are in tech. Do you think that there is still a place for startups whose primary focus is not necessarily on tech?
Many “old” industries like mobility and telecommunications are now in the process of becoming “smart” and digital. Our cars that used to be engines on wheels are now computers on wheels and our cellphones can communicate with our homes and cars.
No one can predict what the future will bring and which industries will change, shift or disappear. For sure, however, we can predict that industries that will not keep up with the fast speed in which technology is changing will either disappear or be replaced by other players.
How can Europe promote women’s entrepreneurship?
Education, mentors and failures. There is room for endless initiatives and programs and the beauty of it is that each one of us can choose the one that works best for us.
I’m proud to say that in the EU HORIZON 2020 Soft-Landing project that we at GTEC represent — we have almost an equal number of women and men. The most important thing is to share the information about those programs and encourage women to try, try and try.
Finally, what would you say to those girls who want to be entrepreneurs but are too scared to take the first step?
“I have never tried that before, so I think I should definitely be able to do that.”
― Astrid Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
People have a huge impact on your life. And actually, I believe that it all starts from between our ears, meaning that it’s only as simple as a mindset shift. Most of what we do is out of a habit, we tend to have the same types of friends, the same kind of social life. As time goes by, we start to act and think like our social environment (which is not a bad thing). Therefore you will surround yourself with people that inspire you to be a better person, provide you with motivation to achieve your goals, empower you to make the changes you need and challenge your beliefs.