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  1. Always Working with the Best Entrepreneurs Inside and Out

    Starting a New Journey with Eran Shir & Welcoming Ron Gura to the Aleph family

    Some things take a while but are well worth the wait. We spent a year trying to convince Ron Gura to join the Aleph family as an entrepreneur-in-residence (EIR). Ron is at the highest level of entrepreneurs who innovate and also give back endless time and energy to our community. So I now couldn’t be happier to say, “Ron, welcome to Aleph”.

    As we say hello to one new family member, we’re also taking our relationship with another to the next level. Eran Shir is also one of Israel’s great entrepreneurs and contributors to our community – and we’ve been exceptionally lucky to work with him as Aleph’s first EIR. It’s now incredibly rewarding to wish Eran Shir the best of luck in starting his new company, BE. We can’t thank him enough for everything he’s contributed over the past year and now allowing us to support him in building (what we believe to be) his own next big Israeli company.

    More about Ron

    The Gifts Project logoRon and his co-founders started The Gifts Project, which under Ron’s leadership, was one of the first Israeli companies to build a product with brand thinking. They took the time to build a personality and even a mascot in Floyd (pictured to my left. He’s pink, get it?) . We have been very vocal about branding and marketing being a missing ingredient in the Israeli ecosystem, and The Gifts Project was a shining instance of messaging and branding done right.

    Ron as an individual viscerally understands the entrepreneurial path. He built a b2c company, pivoted it into a b2b2c, and then sold it and integrated it into an e-commerce giant, eBay. Even more striking, after the acquisition Ron (and his great co-founders) stayed put and intra-preneured to form and build the eBay Innovation Center right down the block from our office. From one role and experience to the next, Ron and his team just continued to innovate outwards from within a small group with global consumer scale and impact.

    Given all his experiences, Ron has a strong desire to apply those learnings and skills to help other entrepreneurs, and we are excited to give him the opportunity and platform to do so. That is the goal of our EIR program and we are sure you will agree that Eran delivered on that over the past year.

    The EIR role at Aleph

    When Michael and I started Aleph, we made a fundamental decision that it would be a partner-only firm. At Aleph, there are no analysts, associates, principals, venture partners and multi-level partners. As an equal partnership, we can move very quickly and we share a love and “stomach” for investing in outliers. We all have the same economic incentives and, hence, no politics, so we can be sure all of the partners are working for all of our portfolio companies.

    However, that was and is not a simple choice. It means we need to have a different kind of operating-model. Since we do not have a multi-layer filtering system of analysts and associates, we must and do integrate with the ecosystem to make sure great founders want to tell us about their great companies first. That is what drives our thinking around hosting  EIRs. They are a community resource and we strive to ensure that they are the best and most valuable entrepreneurial resources in Israel.

    So, what’s an EIR? It is the deepest form of integration into our Israeli tech ecosystem. When Ron and I first talked about how we think about an EIR, I instinctively answered that it is “someone who has done it before and wants to help and have an impact.” The goal is not to recruit an investor but the deep-seated understanding that if we help make the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem better, everyone benefits.

    The best and most demonstrable experience of the value an EIR can bring to the ecosystem was our experience this past year. Eran Shir mentored our portfolio leads of R&D, saved the butt of a fast-scaling company by dragging in a kickass MongoDB debugger on a minute’s notice, and helped in hiring some of the best talent in Israel. Eran also gave back to the community at large by product managing our Karma entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur network, running the IoT and advising numerous startups, many of them way too early for Aleph to invest in. That’s IMPACT.

    Having people like Eran and Ron at Aleph is a hands-on learning experience for all of us. “Network effects” and “deep learning” at a venture capital fund result from integrating and contrasting multiple ways of thinking and different kinds of experience. We know you feel the effects of their one-of-a-kind contributions right along with us.

    We are already looking forward to Ron’s first days at Aleph – in early January – and especially as we know that his background as an entrepreneur will help us in building the right products and programs for YOU.  He will become a resource to our portfolio companies, mentoring and locking arms with you in the hand-to-hand combat of everyday entrepreneurial challenges. He will be there to meet with YOU as founders and help you realize your goals, regardless of our immediate investment interest. We encourage you to read what Ron’s written about his transition. We’re looking forward to working alongside him in all he’s planning.

    Please join us in giving a big welcome hug to Ron and a high-five to Eran as he moves on.

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