#MentorSpotlight || Meet Nofar Amikam
“You get to do something that matters. Whether it’s a product or a service you create, you create something — and I love it.”
Nofar was in the Israeli Intelligence Corp 8200 in the army. She received her MBA, co-founded her first company along with a team, and immediately fell in love with the startup ecosystem: meeting investors and entrepreneurs, constantly discussing innovation. Nofar left the company later and began working at Deloitte, overseeing deal flow. She worked one on one with startups of all sizes. Though she was enjoying her responsibilities, she wanted to have a deeper inside look at the companies and missed the hands-on guiding of a company as a founder.
Taking a chance, Nofar left her lucrative career at Deloitte to give life to another startup. With other experienced entrepreneurs, she founded Israel Tech Challenge, a headhunting venture with a clear social value, as she describes it. ITC looks for tech savvy and creative individuals around the world in order to bring them and their talents to Israel, so that they and the Israeli tech ecosystem can mutually benefit. The company is still operating, but Nofar has moved on to become an Associate for Jerusalem-based venture capital firm, JVP.
Having played the roles of entrepreneur, founder, creative, and investor, Nofar can now weigh in on the pros and cons of each. What she loved about being a founder, she explains, is that “you get to do something that matters. Whether it’s a product or service you create, you create something — and I love it.” As much as she loves being a founder, she speaks of the difficulty of being on the startup roller-coaster and the stress of the inconsistency. One day your company is getting funding and the next day the investor backs out saying it’s not the right time.
What she likes about being an associate and getting to work with startups is that although she doesn’t get to create a product from scratch, she’s still involved. She enjoys meeting companies and their founders, and is excited to work with different products, industries, and teams.
Why startups should raise money?
Simply put, Nofar says, if a startup wants to scale quickly, it must raise money. Success for a startup is a matter of time and when in a competitive landscape, raising money is a clear advantage. Contrary to popular belief, a company doesn’t have to wait till it is profitable to raise funds.
Aside from the money, there’s added value in getting an investment. It’s equally about the value the source of the money can bring to the company as about the actual funding. Most investors are very involved. At JVP, for example, a company gets not only funding but the ability to work with partners who’ve built companies in the past or have worked with or in startups and large scale companies. One may not NEED the money, but one should WANT and will definitely benefit from the added value of the investor who can help with networking and ‘strategizing’.
Tips for those looking for funding:
As associate, Nofar gets around 200 applications a month from around the world. Of those, she meets with around 60 and invests in around 10 a year. She explains that, “most importantly, we want to see the founder is experienced, highly motivated, open to taking advice, and that the individual team members all bring different capabilities to the table. We look at the team and the market and see how crowded it is as well as the company’s competitive edge. What makes them unique? It’s really important.”
Every VC wants to reduce risk when investing in a company. JVP’s way of minimizing risk is by looking at the team. The product and market might change, but if the team is a winning team, they’ll reiterate and be around for a while.
- Before going into an investor meeting, know the company, its founders, and the one you’ll be presenting before, inside and out. What she/he likes, what the firm has invested in previously. By researching, you’ll save time and position for success.
- Many entrepreneurs show up to an investor meeting and throw out some crazy number, usually really big. What Nofar recommends is to prepare and create a realistic timeline. For example: “50K gets me to here, 100K gets me to here.” Give practical numbers and explain what the investors’ money will be used for.
- Make sure the investor is somewhat inline with your product or industry. If they’re not, they won’t offer a strategic network and advice.
Nofar ends off with this tip: “I think finding a balance in believing in what you have and listening to others’ advice and feedback, is critical for an entrepreneur. You need to be extremely passionate and bring stubbornness, but accept advice and realize other people know a thing or two as well.”
Read Nofar’s blog post on the ‘5 principles to become a successful entrepreneur’