#MentorSpotlight || Meet Gil Ben-Artzy
“Small company or large, thousands of users or zero, the point is to give value from day one.”
Gil Ben-Artzy, born and raised in Israel, earned his MBA from Wharton school of business in Philadelphia, and soon after joined Yahoo’s corporate development team in Silicon Valley. He worked in strategy & acquisitions, and also applied his Israeli background to managing the firm’s relationships with the Israeli ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, and startups.
Gil says that he very much enjoyed working in the Valley, because he got to familiarize himself with the ecosystem, learn about interesting up-and-coming companies, and meet several investors. One thing he noticed was the amount of extreme talent in Israel lacking access to the US market and ability to raise US money.
Inspired to make a change and help Israeli companies, Gil and his partners founded UpWest Labs.
UpWest Labs, a fund located in the Valley, aims to help Israeli companies breach the US market. The founders strongly believe that to ensure success, one must be close to one’s market from the moment the idea is born.
The UWL team pride themselves on helping companies find their customers. They credit their success to a deep understanding of the market. When a company joins the fund, it’s about building, hiring the right people, finding the right investors, perhaps a year later raising a series A, and the year after that a series B.
Gil says that joining the UWL program allows companies to more easily get their first users who represent their target customers, find distribution partners and proper mentors, and learn how to market and manage more easily.
Small company or large, thousands or zero users, the point is to give value from day one.
To date, UWL has funded 61 companies involved in software and hardware, drones, machine learning, consumer applications, and security focused companies.
One of those companies is HoneyBook. Gil says that HoneyBook came to the Valley early in its life and really benefited from the move. Moving to the US, the companies target market, helped it find partners and get in touch with actual customers.
When investing, UWL looks for a few vital criteria:
- A strong team that works well together and dreams BIG!
- A growing market opportunity
- A product and how the team’s vision manifests itself in that product
Find something you feel extremely passionate about and do it. Gil sees entrepreneurs all day, and admits that “entrepreneurship is HARD! There will always be doubters, people who will think you can’t pull it off. Your job is to prove them wrong!”
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to enter the US, Gil would love to talk to you: firstname.lastname@example.org