Litan Yahav: Five Things You Need To Know If You Want To Build, Scale and Prepare Your Business For a Lucrative Exit

An Interview With Jason Hartman

Jason Hartman
Authority Magazine
8 min readNov 6, 2022

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Look for a win-win situation with investors. When you are looking to raise money from investors, it should always be a win-win situation. The common mindset many founders have is that they need the investors more than the investors need them. But in reality, it should be a tango, where there is give and take and both sides need each other. If it doesn’t work, it’s because you aren’t bringing on good partners that provide not just money, but additional value to you. When you are just looking for money, you bring in stupid money. It’s really important to bring smart money, or money from investors that can help you build a better business and bigger team, even on account of equity.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Know If You Want To Build, Scale and Prepare Your Business For a Lucrative Exit, I had the pleasure of interviewing Litan Yahav.

Litan is a former officer in the Israeli Navy and the CEO of Vyzer, an online platform providing solution for investors with multiple streams of income who find themselves spending too much time managing, tracking and monitoring their portfolios. Litan leads a team with a deep passion for simplifying complex finances, building endless automations, adding valuable insights, and empowering investors to manage and control their wealth. Yahav and his business partner, Vyzer COO Tomer Salvi were previously co-founders of Segoma, a revolutionary diamond display technology, established and successfully sold. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve always had a passion for solving problems with technology. During high school I taught myself to code a little in HTML and built a place for my friends and I to recommend various things to each other. Then, during my time as an officer in the Israeli military, although I didn’t use technology, I spent a lot of time solving problems in general. You don’t have a choice in that setting. So solving problems really became my speciality.

When it came to my first startup, Segoma, my co-founder Tomer Salvi and I basically took an inefficient industry and created the technology to revolutionize it. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have a background in the diamond industry or trade. We identified the problem and created the software to solve it.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

It’s not a funny story, but I did learn a valuable lesson when I started a tutoring business with my wife, then girlfriend, and her sister. I learned that getting into business with my family was a bad idea. We ultimately decided to break up the business, because family is more important than business. For me, it was a slap in the face that I needed to go through.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s rumored that Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

When we built Segoma, the diamond industry photography technology, we wanted to basically enable diamond dealers to trade diamonds virtually without physically shipping them around the world. One piece of feedback we got from this very old fashioned industry was they wanted to smell the diamonds. But how do you translate that into technology?

The diamond industry was looking for a solution that might not have been the most efficient one. But what we offered gave them a much better solution that they hadn’t realized was possible.

Ok super. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell us a story about how you were able to build a business from scratch, scale and sell it to a bigger firm?

Honestly, it’s mainly timing and choosing the right people. A lot of our success with Segoma was because we were at the right place at the right time. So many businesses in the diamond industry are family run. And although the parents didn’t really understand technology, their kids were born with iPhones. Their children wanted tech and so the timing was perfect for us to penetrate that market. Then we were able to build an amazing team of people that we were lucky to have.

Ultimately, timing and people, was our recipe for success. It was hard, it was an uphill journey. But those two aspects really contributed to our success.

Based on your experience, can you share with our readers the “Five Things You Need To Know If You Want To Build, Scale and Prepare Your Business For a Lucrative Exit”. Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Find a problem and solve it with technology. If you can pinpoint a problem that needs to be solved, you already have a market for the technology you will create to solve it.
  2. Look for a win-win situation with investors. When you are looking to raise money from investors, it should always be a win-win situation. The common mindset many founders have is that they need the investors more than the investors need them. But in reality, it should be a tango, where there is give and take and both sides need each other. If it doesn’t work, it’s because you aren’t bringing on good partners that provide not just money, but additional value to you. When you are just looking for money, you bring in stupid money. It’s really important to bring smart money, or money from investors that can help you build a better business and bigger team, even on account of equity.
  3. Hire people you like. From the beginning, we’ve had a test we put candidates through that we call “the beer test.” It isn’t scientific, but it’s proven extremely important when it comes to building a team, especially a small one. It’s essential that team members click and are on the same wavelength. Here’s the test — if you’ve been working with this person all day and it’s 2:00 am and you still feel like you could get a beer with this person, hire them. If the answer is no, it’s a no go. When creating a team for your startup, you need people that can relate to each other, and best case scenario? Complete each other. But that’s rare.
  4. Keep your team in the loop the whole time. If you want a strong team, it’s important to make sure they aren’t in the dark. From the beginning, you should be communicating with your team and telling them what is going on with each round of funding. Transparency is important to building trust and having a cohesive, loyal team.
  5. Don’t be greedy. When we sold Segoma, it was very important to us to make sure our team was well compensated. The exit should be a life changing event for everyone who was a part of the startup, not just the founders.

In your experience, is there a difference in approach for building a service based business versus a product based business when you have the intent to eventually sell the business. Can you explain?

Both of my companies are SaaS companies with SIP software as a service. So it’s basically a product as a service. I don’t really see the difference between the two. I think in both situations, the business needs to be profitable and scalable. Many times a startup does one or the other. You’re either extremely profitable but not scalable, or extremely scalable and not profitable. Whether you have a product or a service company, your approach should always be finding that perfect setup where you can have both. That’s when it clicks.

How does one go about the process of finding a buyer?

We never had to go looking for a buyer. With Segoma, our investor wanted to buy the whole company because there was a synergy there for him. However, what I hear from friends and colleagues in the industry is that many times, there are private equity firms that buy stakes in your company and help you scale it. Often you can become connected with them through common relationships with lawyers or accountants.

There are also more strategic acquisitions where there’s either competitors, market leaders, potential large partners or large corporations that want to buy your company because there is a synergy with their product or service. Many times with these acquisitions, it’s important to first create a relationship with them, either selling them a service or trying to reach some sort of partnership. Then, when they see the value, often that can lead to an acquisition proposal.

How can one decide if it is better to build a business in order to exit, or if it is better to stick around for the long term and let the company bring in residual income, or if it is better to go public?

I don’t really look at that at all. For me, my goal is to build and scale a company that brings value to people and also brings money in the door. I believe that when we bring that substantial amount of value, then the next natural step is an IPO. But really, wherever it leads will be good.

Can you share a few ways that are used to determine a good selling price for the business?

Ideally, the higher the price, the better. This is going to really be specific to your industry, the business, and the potential in terms of revenue and profitability. Look at your revenue and if there is a multiplier of industry standards to set a price. There is also a bidding process where you can start a bidding war to drive the price up if you’re strategic. And obviously, the more you’re not looking to actually sell, the higher the price you’ll get.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’d love to see an increase in financial literacy education. There needs to be an emphasis on understanding finances from high school, through college and beyond. This includes economics, investing, what it means to leverage and the difference between good and bad debt. The fundamentals of finance are not taught widely in schools. If they were, it would help a lot of people.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Readers can connect with me on LinkedIn @LitanYahav or on Twitter @YahavLitan

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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