Shahar Levi of Locusview: 5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS
Don’t be afraid to make fundamental changes as you grow and don’t be afraid to make hard decisions as business needs evolve. This is the nature of doing business.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful App or SaaS”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shahar Levi.
Co-Founder and CEO of Locusview, Shahar Levi is a veteran of the Israeli central intelligence research unit and was part of a pioneering team that leveraged the use of GPS and mapping technologies into advanced intelligence applications. Prior to Locusview, he served as VP of Business Development at Nortec Group (where he led its acquisition to a multi-billion dollar global company), and M&A Associate at Herzog Fox and Neeman (Israel’s leading law firm). Shahar holds an M.B.A in Finance and Banking (magna cum laude) and an LL.B. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (magna cum laude).
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I was a lawyer at Herzog Fox and Neeman, one of the leading law firms in Israel. I was at a turning point in my life where I had to look to the future. I discovered that what I really wanted was to be creative and go into business — to do something that mattered. I had the opportunity to work with GTI (The Gas Technology Institute) and develop a solution to help utilities improve their safety and regulatory compliance. Over time, I came to realize that there were larger issues at play with greater opportunities to make an impact.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led you to think of the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
When I first went out into the field, I saw first-hand what building an infrastructure involved, including the many detailed processes and upgrade work. I thought about how utilities have impressive operations, but they lack tools which are user-friendly and able to communicate with each other. I recognized the large gap between huge organizations and the work they’re doing with some business areas — especially out in the field — lagging behind.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I never considered giving up. Creating something from scratch is always a struggle because the very nature of doing something new involves friction. Anything that’s different from what’s been done before always creates challenges. It’s supposed to be hard. You need to be 2x what you did in the previous year.
As we grow as a company — doubling in size — we move fast, so it’s not the same company year to year. Execution is difficult, so we need to make sure we have the right talent, that everyone is aligned, and that we have the right resources to take the company to the next level.
Even when things are challenging, what drives me is interacting with our clients and our employees. There is nothing more inspiring to me than being in the field and seeing clients using our technology and talking about it with others, as well as being in the office seeing our employees excited to talk about what they do and what they’ve accomplished.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
We’re in a period of growth, not only with our existing client base, but we’re also entering new verticals and territories. This presents big challenges for our employees and partners, but they’re also exciting. I always tell my people that while we don’t know what the future holds, it’s important to enjoy the current pace.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Coming to a meeting either over or underdressed. I don’t always know if I’ll be in a conference room where I’ll need to wear a suit and tie or out in the field where I’ll need to dress in jeans.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes us unique is our willingness to work hard to provide end-users with the best UX. We’re in an industry with many legacy workflows. What we bring is a “User First” philosophy. We put a lot of effort into focusing on the field crews, the people who are the “boots on the ground”, working hard in the field every day. By decoupling the technology from the UX, we deliver a solution to the end user which is extremely user-friendly.
Something else that sets us apart is our employees. As an employer, our approach is to come as you are. Come work with us in an environment where you can be your authentic self and grow as part of a dynamic company where your work makes a big impact. We empower our people to do work that is meaningful and really matters. You see your accomplishments in a very physical way, such as field crews using our technology in California, Texas, Mexico, India, Australia, the United Kingdom, and in other regions all over the world.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Speak with your clients and really listen to them. If there’s a dispute in the company, it means you haven’t spoken with enough clients.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Our employees have helped us get where we are today. Working in this type of environment, you need your people to get out of their comfort zone. They don’t always have the full 360° picture that a CEO has, so they may do things or use skills they aren’t used to, but they do it because they trust me. They sacrifice to learn, grow and develop themselves and this is what makes them unique.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. Approximately how many users or subscribers does your app or software currently have? Can you share with our readers three of the main steps you’ve taken to build such a large community?
We have subscribers worldwide and Annual Recurring Revenue in the tens of millions of dollars.
What is your monetization model? How do you monetize your community of users? Have you considered other monetization options? Why did you not use those?
We offer a flexible model based on client needs.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful app or a SaaS? Please share a story or an example for each.
1. Work closely with your clients. Create a small customer base who will be your champions and who will work with you as you develop the product.
2. Find the right mix of young and experienced people.
3. Dream big. Don’t be afraid to create a new reality.
4. Don’t be afraid to make fundamental changes as you grow and don’t be afraid to make hard decisions as business needs evolve. This is the nature of doing business.
5. Be flexible. Consult with others and remain open-minded.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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. :-)
Education. Study something that can help you get a better job and focus on developing your skills.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We share unique insights, industry trends and events, and innovative ideas on our website, blog, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. We are regularly featured in various media outlets, which can be found here.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!