#MentorSpotlight || Meet Itzik Yarkoni
“Don’t believe the line ‘build it and they will come.’ You need to mold it day after day and build your OWN community, one that keeps coming back.”
After achieving a BA in communications and an MA in conflict resolution, Itzik began working in PR and marketing, and had several clients in the south of Israel, Sderot, who at the time were under attack and living with a constant barrage of missiles. Itzik felt passionate about showing the world the frightening lives the citizens of Sderot face on a daily basis. He was hired as the Marketing Media Manager for Sderot Media Center, an NGO focused on spreading the word about what was happening.
He noticed that no matter how hard they tried, the typical media outlets such as TV, radio, and print didn’t share the stories.
In 2004, when Facebook launched, Itzik noticed the potential of social media and started using the platform to teach citizens of the South the power of storytelling. He admits that he wasn’t an expert in social media, but he was an expert storyteller and effectively portrayed the difficult day-to-day lives of the people he encountered. He spent his days posting on various social media platforms, striving to share values, build common ground with the networks, and invoke emotions.
He held 12 workshops teaching people who were going through constant fire and turmoil how to portray a day in their shoes through text and images. Soon, government bodies and various organizations started to notice the powerful combination of good storytelling and the reach of social media.
The Brand of Milk and Honey
BOMAH began as a consulting and training firm after two founders approached Itzik admitting they knew nothing about social media. They asked if he could handle their social media marketing for them and grow their online presences.
Itzik compares his journey to a typical startup’s journey. It began with a need followed by various approaches to the problem and, naturally, had peers and outsiders expressing doubts. But, the doubters only pushed Itzik harder.
Many entrepreneurs simply don’t know how to tell their story, and only focus on the product. Often getting asked by startups how to analyze and monetize their data, Itzik is now in the process of building a new useful BOMAH platform. Brought about by demand, the new web platform (launching June 1) helps monitor social media actions in order to improve them.
Why wait for the car when all you need is the engine
When Itzik first started BOMAH, he didn’t have a complete company with rolling invoices or accounting personnel. What he did have was a vision. He broke that vision down and started with the somewhat smaller goal of getting a write-up in the New York Times. He went after this goal by getting in touch with a blogger and networking the hell out of it through social media, and successfully got a story written titled, “A look Inside an Israeli Entrepreneur’s Inbox”
Itzik says that this ‘not taking no for an answer’ attitude and continuous hustle is part of the BOMAH strategy.
Challenges and tips for Israeli startups
- Israeli companies must utilize the latest social media platforms quicker and latch on. Social media is the way to connect to millions of valuable people/ users/ clients.
- Everyone spends so much time and money developing a product that when it comes time to market, there’s no more money left. Make the story and marketing element just as important as the product or service.
- It’s not ‘I have Facebook and I check it occasionally. It’s ‘I am on Facebook everyday, I think about posting on Facebook wherever I go and with whatever I do.”