“Employees are able to thrive to a much larger degree when they feel like partners; partners in the vision, the challenges, the decision-making, and, of course, in the success. When employees feel their opinions matter and management really takes the time to listen and implement, they tend to thrive. I’ve always requested of everyone in my companies to share their candid thoughts with me, especially when they think differently. I believe I am here to help them grow and succeed with their tasks and not the other way around, as some managers may think.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Eliran Malki, Co-founder and CEO of Belong.Life, the world’s largest and fastest growing social network for cancer patients and caregivers.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I am a tech entrepreneur with experience in big data and high throughput analytics. Prior to Belong, I founded three companies and transformed them from ideas into successful businesses and exits. The “backstory” behind Belong is, unfortunately, one of personal loss. My grandfather and aunt both lost their battles to cancer, and three years ago, the genesis of this venture took place. I had a conversation with friends about our mutual experiences and losses to cancer and the idea came to me: What if instead of investing in developing faster computers or new financial analytics, we apply our skills to change the way patients and physicians manage their cancer journey, to make it more manageable and effective. Today I’m proud to report that Belong.life is the world’s fastest-growing and largest mobile social network for cancer patients and caregivers.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
The most emotional and satisfying moment was the first time a Belonger (a cancer patient who uses the Belong app) wrote us a heartfelt thank you note, saying that Belong saved his life. The young man was being treated for a cancer he didn’t have, and he realized this with the help of our app! Even the toughest members of our team were in tears that day.
In fact, one out of ten Belongers have thanked us for the app. Think about that…10% of our users have taken the time to thank us for providing a platform for them to connect with others, gaining timely advice, matching them with a clinical trial, and in some cases, potentially saving their lives. Belong is by far the most important and rewarding thing I have ever been a part of. It is a privilege to see your efforts having a direct positive impact on people’s’ lives is a truly amazing experience
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We fill a deep need for both cancer patients and caregivers, which is a comprehensive tool that provides everything they need to navigate the cancer journey. It is no longer a fragmented experience where they need to access different resources and scour out specific information. At Belong, it’s all in one central place, delivered in a hyper-personalized way. You only get what you need or want, when you need it.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
In my experience, I find employees are able to thrive to a much larger degree when they feel like partners; partners in the vision, the challenges, the decision-making, and, of course, in the success. When employees feel their opinions matter and management really takes the time to listen and implement, they tend to thrive.
I’ve always requested of everyone in my companies to share their candid thoughts with me, especially when they think differently. I believe I am here to help them grow and succeed with their tasks and not the other way around, as some managers may think.
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?
My mom — it’s all due to her. She believes and has invested in me so much throughout the years, even when it was hard for her. She supported me when I wanted to take risks, because she considered me an honest, fair person, as well as a hard worker. She never gave up and always pushed me to do more and be better.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I think Belong.life is by far the best example of that. I always believed in donating time and money, but at Belong, we are working 24/7 to help hundreds of thousands of cancer patients worldwide to improve their journey, improve their quality of life and hopefully, attain valuable information at the time they need it most. We have already received tens of thousands of thank-you messages from people saying that Belong has changed their life for better. Our next big step is analyzing our data and learning more about how we can positively impact the lives of millions in the future.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why.
1. Managing talented people is more about passion and challenges than finance.
2. Always think about what could go wrong, and be prepared.
3. Small companies are 10 times harder to manage than large ones.
4. As CEO you work twice as hard than your busiest employee and you sleep less.
5. If you like to satisfy everyone all the time — don’t become a CEO.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
With professionalism, determination and persistence, everyone can get anywhere.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
I believe celebrities play a big role in our society and have massive positive impact when they use their reach for good causes. Today, Belong’s priority is to help as many cancer patients and caregivers as possible and make sure they know about the Belong community. It’s all about helping people learn and benefit from experiences of others in similar situations. When you look at what we’re doing, the one celebrity that really stands out is Angelina Jolie. She’s been a vocal advocate and role model for women with cancer, and I think we share a similar passion. It would be an honor to meet her.