tech startup

The Impossible Work Of The Founder-CEO

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Jonathan Gan
Founder & CEO

 

A tech-startup with a spectacular aura: innovative, disruptive, industry leading, successfully fund-raised, cool offices, great reputation, working with highly intelligent and creative people and as the founder you have the independence and freedom to fulfill your own dreams. They name successful start-ups after mythical creatures because the thing that makes them special is a type of magic that you can’t earn or buy.

Everyone has ideas, some good, some not. Some of the ideas are marvelous and revolutionary and yet, 97% of all the tech start-ups will fail and from the remaining 3% which can be defined as a success — only a handful will become big companies, while the rest will do a small/medium exit. Why is this? Most start-ups all have the same components, smart people, great ideas and a hunger to succeed, yet only a few go on to make a mark on the world. What sets them apart? It’s something you can’t see or quantify. Yes, there are principles that all successful start-ups incorporated on their way to success, but there is no set formula that you can use in order to succeed.

One of my favourite diagrams to describe the start-up journey is the Start-up Curve by Paul Graham.

The Startup Curve graph; by Paul Graham, avc.com

The Startup Curve graph; by Paul Graham, avc.com

The amazing initial enthusiasm that carry away the entrepreneurs, the diving into the trough of sorrow when the start-up is fighting constantly to find its’ way in the market, up to the golden point when the start-up hits the Product-Market-Fit and begins to scale.

But this graph is also misleading, almost a lie, as it’s totally out of scale. The reality is that the first stage, before reality sets in can take from a few days up to few weeks, no more than that. Then the time scale in the trough of sorrow, well… that can take a few years and might feel like an eternity. Like a thirsty and hungry person who is lost in the middle of the desert, without a map or compass, who can only see the horizon in the same shape and distance, every single day — the only powers that give them the strength to continue are faith and determination.

The feeling I had when I invented Whichit a few years ago was spectacular. A period full of energy, enthusiasm, creativity and pure initiative — aiming to change the way marketers interact with their audience. It’s been 4 years since I founded Whichit, relocating from Israel Startup Nation to Great Britain alongside my two Co-Founders, Yarden and Galit. A long and hard journey that taught me one main thing about tech start-ups: It’s not about the idea, but it’s all about the execution of the founding team, over a period of time.

Even today, after few years of running our start-up, with rich experience in the Trough of Sorrow, we are still holding the faith and belief of the idea. We can feel and see it in every aspect of the business — from the support and care from our investors, who joined us on this long journey, our business partners who recognize the unique and innovative value we are bringing to market, the successful commercial activities with our clients who are growing by the week and last but not least, our team: technically “employees”, but practically they are the soul of the start-up and keep on fighting even in the darkest hours; a team you want by your side when you’re building a tech start-up.

Being a Founder-CEO of a hi-tech start-up is a bitch (excuse my French). Long hours, hard work, working under constant uncertainty, great responsibility, constant concerns. As a Founder-CEO you are overloaded at every single moment, dealing with millions of tasks that cross every aspect in the business world no matter what your background is, while you have few resources. Every day is a challenge that becomes a struggle, getting “Nos” on a regular basis and still trying to continue like nothing happened. To be the Founder-CEO of a hi-tech start-up is doing the impossible every single day.

I was fortunate to have two super talented Co-Founders. Yarden, our CTO, covering all technology aspects of the business. From taking the concept and the initial definitions to full production. Even though when we began he didn’t have full knowledge and experience of several technologies and code languages, he was able to learn and perform with almost a vertical learning curve, with extraordinary talent and improvisation to achieve our product goals.

Galit, out Creative Director, is the master talent of the company. Basically, every single pixel in Whichit: it’s her design. From the creative language, the commercial campaigns, marketing and sales materials, website, blog and social channels, up to the full definition of the products, the user experience and interface. Thanks to her talent and creativity, we won the ‘Start-up of the Year’ from Facebook in 2015.

As we already know, talent is very important but not enough. The core team never stops surprising me with their dedication and hard work, sometimes with sacrifices of very late nights, working during weekends and holidays. Constantly communicating around work to execute our plans successfully. Getting into the small details and putting their care and personal touch in every corner of the product, services and piece of work, putting their soul into the tech.

The WBS Of The Founder-CEO

I had the chance to look back, reviewed all the disciplines I was involved with in the past few years of running my tech start-up. The millions of tasks spread across every domain and industry exists in the startup and business worlds. I don’t think there is a better school or degree that can teach you what can be learnt in a single year as a Founder-CEO of a hi-tech start-up.

The WBS Of The Founder-CEO [   see full picture   ]

The WBS Of The Founder-CEO [see full picture]

I created this Founder-CEO WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) diagram, which contains every domain and Scope Of Work (SOW) I personally dealt with, while running my tech start-up, Whichit. There are three levels of involvement I’m defining for each scope of work:

  1. Full — From definition and planning to delivery and full execution of the scope of work.

  2. Partial— Taking active part in the task execution, together with colleagues or a service provider.

  3. Shell— The action(s) taken was one or more of the following, while the actual task was created and delivered by someone else: planning, defining, managing, controlling, reviewing, mentoring, guiding.

As Founder-CEO of a hi-tech start-up, you will find yourself dealing with ALL of these components, while your level of involvement in each of them in the beginning of your start-up will be entirely on you, the more progress you make and the more team members you have, the level of your involvement will decrease, still everything depends on you. You may not have the professionalism, or you may not like a lot of these tasks (who likes to deal with GDPR or creating a company’s manual?!?), but like it or not, the execution of your tech start-up is dependent on each and every one of these small parts.

The T-Model In Professionalism


As you can imagine, it’s impossible to be an expert in every single discipline in the industry, nevertheless having the time to deal and manage everything together. The following model I created represents the variety of domains (horizontal) in the tech start-up world and the level of professionalism in each aspect (vertical). While the middle point is YOUR core professional domain, the more you move away from the center, the less professional YOU are in these domains.

The T-Model in professionalism is personal and will be different for each person. The goal of using it is to better understand where your strengths and weaknesses are in terms of knowledge, understanding and professionalism in each aspect of the start-up world. As an output, it will enable you to concentrate on working with your core specialties and expertise, while having others cover the specialties you are weak in.

The T-Model in Professionalism

The T-Model in Professionalism

As I mentioned before, EXECUTION is the key ability in a tech start-up. Not the idea itself, nor the tech, not the market and for sure not how much money the start-up has raised.

In its first years, until it becomes a stable company, a tech start-up IS NOT based on the traditional business models of T&M (Time and Materials) nor Bricks and Mortar, but more as an ongoing project, with a general direction and goal that is represented in a heuristic concept and with low resources to none.

Execution is defined as the ability to carry out a plan, order, or course of action. In simple words for the Founder-CEO of a hi-tech start-up, it is your ability to:

  1. Understand the start-up’s current situation.

  2. Measure your direction and distance to the main goal.

  3. Recognize the gaps and up-coming challenges.

  4. Translate gaps and challenges to tasks and prioritize.

  5. Act.

  6. Repeat. Every single day.


Good luck with doing the impossible possible and may the force be with you.


Jonathan


Whichit is an interactive commercial content platform that enables marketers and advertisers to increase user engagement, open new revenue streams & gain user-related insight. The company has an innovative technology that profiles users based on their preferences and uses machine learning to provide bespoke commercial incentives in real time.

The company is working with top agencies and brands and based in central London.

Women in Tech

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Noémie Girault
Business Development Intern

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Emma Lombardini
Business Development Intern


There are so many stories about what it’s like to be a woman in a man’s world. Well guess what, it’s even harder in the tech world! While the tech industry tends to take pride in changing the world of work, and often, with a bit of hubris the world as a whole, the technology sector is actually far away from achieving gender equality. Studies have shown that the female employees make up between 26 percent (Microsoft) and 43 percent (Netflix) of the workforce at major tech companies, with the percentage dropping much lower when it comes to actual tech jobs.

“…female employees make up between 26 percent (Microsoft) and 43 percent (Netflix) of the workforce at major tech companies, with the percentage dropping much lower when it comes to actual tech jobs.”

It’s no understatement to say that quite early in their careers, women are indirectly pushed to choose a job that does not require technology orientated skills, or at least of a high level, because it is commonly a path chosen by men. In other words, it is a cultural influence and it needs to change.


Moreover, the lack of gender diversity led to a shortage of female role-models in Tech and Science sectors. This naturally, is not making it easier for women working in tech to feel at home. However, powerful women like Facebook's COO Sheryl Sandberg, YouTube's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, Ginni Rometty, IBM's CEO, and few others, are an example that it is still possible to turn things around in the tech world.

An interesting story about this topic is the story of Galit Gan, the Creative Director and a Co-Founder at Whichit. As said in the Story of Whichit, Galit took part in this adventure when she saw the potential of Interactive Content in advertising, but also for her own personal accomplishment. Indeed, entering this sector, as a woman in tech, could potentially enhance her skills, and she felt like it was a good opportunity to gain visibility, entrepreneurial-wise.

The first steps in entrepreneurship

Galit Gan, Creative Director at Whichit

Galit Gan, Creative Director at Whichit

When living in Tel-Aviv, Galit was an architect with a deep lust for design and creation. After graduating from Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, with MRE (Master of Real Estate), she started her own Real Estate company and then became more attracted to the entrepreneurial and management side of business.

At that time, she already knew she had to empower herself to get recognition and be a part of something bigger than her, to contribute and inspire. This personal aspiration is exactly what women wanting to build a career in tech should develop and follow.


She advises that women should take advantage of their uniqueness to rise up the ladder of the very male dominated sector: “prioritising gender diversity in your team not only provides enhanced problem-solving and increased innovation, it also empowers tech-based rolls with ‘feminine’ qualities, as women tend to be better in multitasking, giving attention to details and great team players.”

When Galit was introduced to Whichit by the founder, Jonathan, she quickly saw the opportunity to enhance her creative and management skills, especially in the tech sector. As the start-up won the Sirius Programme by the UK Government, she decided to move as part of the founding team to London, and leave her home in Israel to pursue her career, obviously taking a risk, but also a lot of courage and ambition.

As the Creative Director, Galit had the exciting opportunity to design the SaaS (Software as a service) platform from scratch, taking the initial idea from its concept stage to a complete design with advance user experience and interface, all in three different platforms and interfaces. This challenge requires techy skills and wasn’t something common for a former architect. Therefore, this challenge a pushed her to give the best of her and overcome the apprehension of stepping up.

Using her creative skills, together with her unique personal touch, Galit designed and created the Whichit App for Android, iOS and Web App, that won the ‘App Of The Year EMEA by Facebook’ in 2015 just a few months after its release. The desktop platform, ‘Whichit for Advertisers’ won a ‘Great User Experience’ award in 2017, that helped positioning the company and reassure to Galit, that she’s leading the product to the right direction.

Jumping off the cliff


It is a fact that women are outnumbered in the tech industry, but this doesn’t mean they should feel discouraged or disheartened. On the contrary; it gives the opportunity to break society’s stereotypes of the tech industry and, most importantly, stand out from the crowd. Indeed, many of the tech companies driven by women achieve great success and prove that women deserve a place in tech as much as men do. They should play to their advantage of being ‘different’ and bring themselves as equal within the industry.

Moreover, scientific research shows women in general tend to think differently to men. Gathering as many men and women to work together would consequently prove to be more efficient and productive, thanks to diversity. Galit’s advice is to team up with encouraging and supporting men who believe in gender diversity and equality. Effectively, combining both sets of skills will lead to a great team spirit, and so a great company.

“Women sadly often lack self-confidence. Galit thinks women shouldn’t feel like they are not as good as men, and therefore must not apply for ‘easy jobs’ while knowing deep down they could occupy a higher and more interesting position”.

Women sadly often lack self-confidence. Galit thinks women shouldn’t feel like they are not as good as men, and therefore must not apply for ‘easy jobs’ while knowing deep down they could occupy a higher and more interesting position. As a matter of fact, it is also significantly efficient for a company to have female managers or highly placed women with internal influence in the company, because externally, it helps consumers feel related. It is more representative of their target market. Indeed, you will have a harder time trying to sell products for women with a team formed only of men!

Finally, women often feel like they need to fit in because they’ve learned that the well-known successful women are glamourous and fashionable, and it doesn’t really match the tech world stereotype. Well, believe it or not, the ad-tech company Whichit was first about fashion, but the main message here, is that society needs to increase the awareness about the role model problem. Galit thinks that teaching kids the fundamentals of coding very early in their life and before gender stereotypes, can help to prepare both girls and boys for the jobs of the future.

By allowing women to stand out for themselves, to not be afraid of speaking out and making a difference in the tech world, more of them will be drawn in. The next generation of tech women will be inspired, and things will hopefully evolve.

What do you think? Should more women be encouraged to enter the tech world?

Whichit for Advertiser’s next generation: designing to delight

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Galit Gan
Co-founder & Creative Director

 

Here at Whichit, we believe that our user’s success, is our success. Since the launch of ‘Whichit for Advertisers’ platform in mid 2017, we've been working hard to make sure our customers continue to enjoy using the system. We wanted our user’s feedback to be at the heart of every new version we release, therefore the user-centric design approach means we understand our customer’s need and prioritise it.

User-centred design creates the opportunity for a business to design together with individuals who use the product or service they are offering enabling them to truly understand who their users are and what they need. By that, this design provides a common language for all types of users, no matter their profiles and characteristics.

Understanding our users

 
In our case, the product is a platform that gives marketers the ability to create interactive ad units that leave lasting impressions and generate high traffic volumes, in order to engage better with their audiences. To do so we needed to establish a common language for the diverse individuals that use our platform. These days, creating an ad unit requires expertise (design teams, web developers etc). Whichit for Advertisers’ concept is to make advertising easier and intuitive for everyone, not only for experts, and the platform’s user experience should support and reflect that.

In the commercial world, it is common to make the mistake of prioritising business goals over those of the user. Our earlier product versions included as many proudly-developed features as we could, just so the users could ‘see everything we have to offer’. Taking out the guess-work and personal opinion was important for the new version. We’ve learned to analyze every touchpoint that our customers have with the product and matched their user-personas with their exact needs and goals. User-centred design should be implemented throughout the customer experience to make your product more efficient and satisfying, which eventually leads to increased sales and customer loyalty
— Galit Gan, Creative Director & Co-Founder
 
Whichit for Advertisers’ concept is to make advertising easier and intuitive for everyone, not only for experts, and the platform’s user experience should support and reflect that.

Whichit for Advertisers’ concept is to make advertising easier and intuitive for everyone, not only for experts, and the platform’s user experience should support and reflect that.

 

User-Centred Design by Whichit


Today, we are very proud to announce the launch of our new and improved ‘Whichit for Advertisers’ platform, which is based on understanding our users’ needs, tasks and journey. We have also included new features for them to create beautiful interactive commercial ads their audience can't resist.

Here are some examples of how we’ve implemented the user-centred design in our new version:


1. A Creation Guide:


We believe that anybody can create interactive ads and run campaigns without depending on a designer, so we've included a step by step guide, with a checklist of tasks, that need to be completed before moving to the next stage.

 
With 'Whichit for Advertisers' our users can create interactive commercial content in minutes.

With 'Whichit for Advertisers' our users can create interactive commercial content in minutes.

 


2.  New Features:


Polls and Surveys can be created in minutes with Whichit. We've made that process even easier by eliminated a number of steps in the creative process, by implementing new layout and tool bar when designing a post.

 
For example, users are now able to drag and drop an image from the library to the creative unit and apply a ‘drop shadow’ on the text overlaid on the image for each answer.

For example, users are now able to drag and drop an image from the library to the creative unit and apply a ‘drop shadow’ on the text overlaid on the image for each answer.

 


3. A commercial offer to support each user persona:


We identified four personas which all have different needs and goals when engaging with their audience.  Those who:

  1. Want to attract audiences to a website/landing page

  2. Want to reward audiences with a coupon/offer

  3. Want to collect emails and other 1st party data to keep in touch with audiences

  4. Want to create memorable experiences for audiences and for them to share their post to social but are not interested in offering something in return.

By implementing a unified language all users can relate to, rather than overly technical marketing and advertising terms, they can easily select the best option to achieve their campaign goals.

 
'Whichit for Advertisers' offers our users four Engage Cards with different Call to Actions based on their goals.

'Whichit for Advertisers' offers our users four Engage Cards with different Call to Actions based on their goals.

 


4. Touchpoints with target audiences:


Whichit’s ad unit can be distributed across multiple online channels. Instead of listing all the options, we ask our users what their marketing campaign’s objectives are: Do they want to engage with audiences on social media channels? or would the like to attract audiences from a new target market? This ensures they only see the relevant types of campaign that match their objectives.

 
Our users can choose different campaign objectives that best suit their marketing goals.

Our users can choose different campaign objectives that best suit their marketing goals.

 


5.  A new and simplified user-flow:


Learning to use a new system is always challenging and time consuming. In the new version of ‘Whichit for Advertisers’ we’ve simplified the on-boarding process by only presenting features that are relevant to the user’s progress, keeping them informed about their progress at every stage. For example, a user will only be able to navigate through to advanced functions after completing the basics, as getting their too early may cause confusion.

Elliott Saray, Senior Developer at Whichit says that alongside a series of technical improvements, the new version of the SaaS platform also boasts a myriad of user experience enhancements.’. He adds that having completely redesigned the ad creation process based on user feedback and analysis, our users will now find an easy-to-use, unified design language carefully crafted by the Whichit Team.

The simply and intuitively designed system takes matters of user experience into utmost consideration, allowing our users to create and distribute interactive commercial content at an even quicker pace than before by following a simpler journey.
— Elliott Saray, Senior Developer


 

Thank you for reading! We hope you enjoy the new and improved ‘Whichit for Advertisers’!


About the company:

This web-based tool makes it easy for brands and publishers to create image-based polls and surveys that help them gain user-related insights, their preferences, desires, what makes them tick, and more. With the interactive content platform - 'Whichit for Advertisers', marketers and advertisers can easily create Interactive Commercial Content in minutes and launch it across multi-channels: on the brand's web pages and blogs; social channels like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat; native mobile and in-app; ad-networks; and publishers web pages. Once they attract their audience, Whichit’s users can reel them in with unique “Engage Cards” that deliver crisp and significant call-to-action messages based on their audiences’ answers and their goals.

Whichit included in The Leap 100 2017: the definitive list of fast-growth companies

Whichit included in The Leap 100 2017: the definitive list of fast-growth companies

Whichit was featured in The Leap 100: the definitive list of fast-growth companies

Whichit's in the Fast Lane! We're featured in the The Fresh Business Thinking Shift 100 - MAdtech Edition!

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Galit Gan
Creative Director & Co-Founder

 
 
 

We are delighted to announce that Whichit has been included within The Fresh Business Thinking Shift 100 - the MAdtech edition - in association with KPMG Small Business Accounting. We're in the Fast Lane! 

The Shift 100 has been put together to identify Madtech (Marketing and Advertising) entrepreneurs who are using technology to bring new ideas to marketing and advertising, which is fundamentally reshaping the advertising and media industry and altering how consumers “consume” content.

The Founding team: Jonathan, Yarden and Galit

The Founding team: Jonathan, Yarden and Galit

Fresh Business Thinking is recognising and celebrating the entrepreneurs who are building cutting-edge solutions and bringing tech innovation to the UK’s marketing and advertising scene.

We are very happy to announce that Whichit is one of those chosen!
You can check out Whichit’s profile page here.

About Whichit:
Whichit is a platform to create and publish Interactive Commercial Content. Within minutes advertisers can create a beautiful bespoke interactive display ads. These can be embedded practically anywhere... including our network of publishers. These highly engaging ads not only drive traffic, they also provide highly useful insights about your target audience.

Whichit named EMEA app of the year by Facebook’s FbStart

best app in UK

This week has brought us the captivating F8 conference which is held by Facebook. Intended for developers and entrepreneurs, Facebook’s event – which takes place in San Francisco – is designed to help those who build products and services centred around Facebook’s website and groups.

Facebook recently launched FbStart, a program designed to help early stage mobile start-ups build and grow their apps. FbStart provides start-ups with an exclusive community, worldwide events, and mentorship from Facebook, and up to $60,000 in free tools and services. This year Facebook began selecting the most successful start-ups from its program, in order to host the annual App of the Year Award.

This year Facebook selected five Apps to be awarded the FbStart’s App of the Year, broken down in regions around the world. Whichit was honoured to be awarded FbStart’s App of the year for the regions of Europe, Middle east and Africa. The awards were selected from over 400 entries, narrowed down to the top five apps within the FbStart program in which entries were judged on four key properties: growth and engagement; expertise and design; efficiency at scale; and leveraging the Facebook platform. The panel of judges consisting of six experts; three senior level executives from Facebook and three industry experts such as a Partner from leading venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz made their final decisions just over week ago ready to be bestowed on the final day of the F8 Annual Developer Conference. They recognised the best and most innovative mobile apps to emerge from the FbStart program which has helped showcase Whichit’s potential as an emerging platform.

Champagne & Fashion in the House of Commons

Champagne & Fashion in the House of Commons

Last Monday we took a trip to the house of commons for a champagne brunch. A chance to discuss the connection between fashion and politics throughout history, as well as address current ethical issues and  chat with a member of parliament about their opinion on our fashion industry related issues.

 

 The connection between the way you dress and politics may not immediately be apparent, but you only have to look back to fashion movements such as the hippie generation, when people took a laid back approach to the way they dressed and presented themselves, due to a rise in unemployment as a result of the recession, or the state of rebellion represented by the punk subculture, combining previously fashion absent objects like safety pins and chains to make a statement for their anti-establishment views.

Innovate UK 2014 | Why I Chose The UK To Internationalise My Business

MAdTech company

This week lays host to the UK’s leading innovation event, Innovate UK 2014. Bringing together an audience of more than 2000 people over two days and putting them in front of 200 world’s leading speakers to discuss ways to help grow your business, covering vital funding, support and presenting a vast amount of high powered connections. With attendees from research base, to government, business, as well as UK and international investors from 30 overseas markets, this really is the best event dedicated to networking with leading innovators.

Whichit’s CEO Jonathan Gan joined a panel of successful entrepreneurs to discuss why the UK is the best location to internationalize your business. The UK is currently located at the top of the list as the world’s leading location to both set up and grow a business. It provides the much required direct access to the European market, built up of the international environs of over 830 million people. 

innovative startup in London

In the 40 minutes, a creative discussion took place between these industry leaders, bringing forth thoughts on the advantages of the UK market over others, the types of support you can receive here as well as the money oriented challenges you may face and the reasons why London is the economical hotspot of the United Kingdom, leading more businesses here over any other mainland locations.  

Jonathan Gan discussed how the UK is the world leader in eCommence, which is the sector that Whichit belongs to, as it is located at the center of the interaction between finance and business, making it the hotspot for brand and financial growth. Furthermore, with the cultural variety the UK holds, it allows for fast growth, as you can target a strongly diverse group of people in a small geographical space. For those you cannot directly reach, it is located within such a time zone that it allows for international contact within the business working hours.

All this came together to pin point what the UK holds in terms of leverage to help further expand your business. Programs created by the UK government, such as the Sirius Programme, combined with the startup support activities of Innovation Warehouse and the Accelerator Academy, provide startups the ultimate environment to take your idea to the next level.

Whichit Founders at Innovate UK 2014

Whichit Founders at Innovate UK 2014

The sector was Chaired by Philip Salter, Director of The Entrepreneurs Network, the panel was made up of Dmitry Aksenov, Chief Executive Officer, FinGenius, Tim Brown, Founder, Three over Seven, Greg Fitzgerald, Carbon Analytics, Henrique Olifiers, Co-founder, Bossa Studio and our very own Jonathan Gan, CEO of Whichit.

Click here to see a video of the full discussion 

Whichit team at Number 10

Whichit team at Number 10

From Start-Up Nation to Great Britain.

Whichit is an Israeli startup company who won the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) competition for high growth startups, who are also taking part in the Sirius Programme for young entrepreneurs, of which the Accelerator Academy, one of the top accelerators in the UK, is a core part. Whichit is based at Innovation Warehouse, in central London.