#MentorSpotlight || Meet Yaron Magal

“My job is to feel the startup nation. I believe that Israel brings different advantages than New York, Boston, or the Valley. Israel’s advantage is its brotherhood, its bond.”

The start of an investor

Yaron Magal studied electrical engineering and earned his MBA before beginning his 10 year career in the IDF academic reserves, running R&D groups after which he left to begin his 12 year civil high-tech career, ending with an acquisition of Lightech to GE. During his time as a chief designer of a military project, Yaron supervised over 100 people.

Needing a change, he moved from the army’s high tech scene to the city-based one, where he worked for Lightech and was involved in the company’s acquisition and transformation to GE lighting. Yaron built the second design center GE had set up in Israel, learning the worldwide GE system, its mentality, and integrating — not a simple task. After proving his ability to succeed, he was asked to double the team. Yaron calls his time at GE an unbelievable experience and a learning opportunity.

Although already successful, Yaron wanted to switch things up and learn about execution, so he started learning about the world of VC and investments. He is currently the CTO of Terra Venture Labs, an incubator under parent company, Terra Venture Partners. It’s a new incubator model operating since 2012 where the chief scientist invests in a company at seed stage. The chosen company then gets 2 to 3 million shekel total, receiving 85% of the money at seed stage.

Terra Venture Labs

The concept of incubators gives founders the economic leverage to push innovation. Terra Venture Labs currently has 12 companies in the incubator; Yaron considers them all incredible, backed by even better founders.

Location for growth

Yaron thinks there is no better place for entrepreneurship than Israel.

He confidently estimates that he sees around 1,000 startups a year. Acting as a funnel, Yaron bridges those companies to investments, if it’s the right fit. Of the 1,000, he presumes about 20 get investor attention. Terra invests in just four or five of those.

Yaron says that with the hundreds of startups he sees, he is never bored. There are so many ideas out there and just when he thinks he’s seen it all, a new startup surprises him. His job is to feel the startup nation. He believes that Israel has an advantage that neither New York, Boston, or the Valley has. Israel’s advantage is its brotherhood, its bond.

Mistakes to be learned from

When Yaron started at GE, he learned a lot about managing from their 100 years of perfecting the management process. One thing that stuck with him was celebrating mistakes.

Yaron thinks we learn more from our mistakes than we learn from our successes. He says mistakes are something that should be cherished. It’s important to celebrate them, because we’re used to celebrating our successes — which is normal, they’re a good sign of accomplishment, they’re great — but mistakes should be celebrated as well. After all, if you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t learning.

He also believes that there is never a ‘right’ time to make a decision. Accumulate the data and facts and make a decision because you’ll never have 100% of the information required. At a certain point, waiting to make a perfect decision does more harm that not deciding at all.

Yarons’ tips to entrepreneurs

  • Start something that solves a big problem with a unique solution
  • Don’t fall in love with your idea so hard that you lose your scepticism
  • Don’t forget that technology is just a means to an end
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