Episode #56: Udi Ziv CEO of Earnix

Episode #56: Udi Ziv CEO of Earnix

Episode #56: Udi Ziv CEO of Earnix

“Entrepreneurship is an instinct, it’s not about experience. It’s either you have it, or you don’t. You can learn some of the traits, but I think it’s something that is mostly instinctive”. 

[we apologize for the quality of the sound in this episode, we’re aware it’s challenging to listen to Udi but we decided to release it despite the technical obstacle here because we think he’s worth it]

In this episode, we speak with Udi Ziv, CEO of Earnix – a startup that he’s stepped into to scale and successfully turned into a unicorn. 

He’s a serial entrepreneur, selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of 100 Israeli tech leaders you need to know.

He has a lot of experience-based insights on what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. 

We discuss:

  • Balance as a theme in life
  • The product vs service dilemma 
  • Finding a product market fit through providing services and finding commonalities 
  • The problematic trend of overlooking profitability in the pursuit of growth 
  • The shift from startup to enterprise 
  • And much more

Enjoy your listen!

We’re excited to collaborate with the Israeli website CTech by Calcalist, owned by Calcalist כלכליסט – Israel’s leading business newspaper. CTech is the gateway of the Israeli high-tech to the tech world and vice versa. 

If you’re not already a regular reader, we strongly recommend you check it out and stay up to date on all high-impact stories from the Israeli tech scene.

Zooming out, if you like listening to this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss new conversations with peak performers, serving as a reminder we can all tap into the best versions of ourselves.

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Some further resources:

  • Real Life Superpowers podcast on Ctech

Image credit: Eli Dasa

Udi Ziv 0:06
Entrepreneurship is an instinct. It’s not about experience. Either you have it, or you don’t. You can learn some of the traits, but I think it’s something that it’s mostly…

Noa Eshed 0:16
Hey everyone. Today we speak with Udi Ziv, CEO of Earnix, a startup that he stepped into in order to scale and successfully turned it into a unicorn. He’s a serial entrepreneur, selected by the Wall Street Journal as one of the 100 Israeli tech leaders you need to know. He has a lot of experience based insights on what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur. Enjoy your listen.

Noa Eshed 1:05
So welcome to Real Life Superpowers.

Udi Ziv 1:08
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.

Noa Eshed 1:10
What are you after these days?

Udi Ziv 1:11
Oh, you know, so many things. It’s key’s to work, and what else CEO does before, chase deals. It’s mostly what I’m doing, like every year for the last 31 years? And on a personal note, two kids that are abroad, which is, where are they, what are they up to, are they safe? That’s roughly it.

Noa Eshed 1:35
And you said that you feel like for 30 years, you’re chasing deals? Is that some form of essence? Or is that that sort of something that has to go with the job?

Udi Ziv 1:45
No, it goes with the job, or what a company is about, getting the business done. And obviously if the year gets to an end, the quarter gets set in, and that’s that’s mostly what companies are dealing with. You know, finding the balance of your quarter where we plan the year ahead. Prediction, taking 12 and maybe 24 – 36 months more than at the same time, you know, on an hourly basis, check more of deals often. That’s kind of the reality of our lives.

Noa Eshed 2:24
Do you like the chase?

Udi Ziv 2:26
Absolutely. It’s fun. It’s the adrenaline, it’s like, you know, it’s like the new world handcase, and some people use that term for sales. It’s the thrill of hunting. Absolutely.

Noa Eshed 2:44
Was it always a key drive for you?

Udi Ziv 2:46
You know, adrenaline is, and in helping gives you a lot of adrenaline. In younger stages of companies, or you’re running large organizations, you don’t hunt anything, you basically build stuff that also has adrenalin, inventing things it’s a huge adrenaline rush. So it could be anything. But hunting is definitely on the good and bad sides of it, but to always work. And the last day they may say look, things are tough now let’s talk next year. So there’s also that side of the business. But yeah it is fun.

Ronen 3:38
What’s the difference between hunting adrenaline as like, you know, a corporate executive between being an entrepreneur and a hunting, you know, like, you know, there should be a different kind of adrenaline rush. It’s a different kind of deal hunting, isn’t it?

Udi Ziv 3:52
Yeah, definitely. I think the difference is survival. When you’re small startup, every, every customer, you hunt, maybe should move away from that term, but is about surviving. It’s about “Will I make it or not?.” When you’re running a large organization, it’s a, hate to say this, but it’s one of many that are happening at the same time. You measure yourself, and you’re measured in a similar fashion, but each instance of a customer needs less when you’re a large corporation versus a startup. It’s much more core, much more basic.

Noa Eshed 4:38
And then how do you if it’s a big organization, then how do you try to double down I guess, on culture and trying to see how I mean, you want everybody on the sales team to be hungry, and to mourn each deal as if it’s a startup. So, but then at like a high level it’s not the case. So how do you strike us is the form of balance in that respect with with respect to mindset?

Udi Ziv 5:03
Yeah, first of all, for each individual in the way large corporations are built. If they do it right, for each individual it is a matter of life and death, do they win or not the deal. If you’re aggravated maybe it’s less, but if I do my job, right, each one of the people will feel it’s likely death for them. But generally speaking about culture, you know, I’m not, I’m not the one that believes in, values on walls, much more of cultures built and established by looking at samples, and people look at you, people look at how I or other people in the company behave, and how important things are for them, how emotional it is. And the word ’emotional’ is positive word if you take your business to heart. People sense that and it’s contagious. People see it and they want to be and do the same.

Noa Eshed 6:11
I used to think that brands framework and accompany mission and vision are a bit of fluff, maybe even BS. And then as I sort of evolved, I realized that it actually doesn’t have to be hollow words. And I think the companies that do best are ones where if you speak to an employee in the corridor, you you can really sense the company vision and mission, just buy from a conversation about the environment in the office. And it doesn’t have to be, you know, verbatim what they stated is, but just in general, when it’s wrapped and aligned around the same goals, I think it does matter. Do you agree?

Udi Ziv 6:47
Absolutely. For that it needs to be real. I think vision and mission, all of it is setting the prepwork for yourself, for people around you. Absolutely. That’s important. As long as it’s not just words that are sound or look, right. In that case, basically, I mean, at best ignore, and be more cynical about it. So if it’s real, if you’re really about what you’re saying you’re about. Absolutely. And then it’s always hard work to get the whole organization to actually feel that and I agree with you, unless it’s coming from, not unless you can hear the echo coming from the employees in the company, it’s meaningless.

Noa Eshed 7:39
And your journey has been quite a successful one. Did you grow up in an entrepreneurial environment?

Udi Ziv 7:48
Absolutely not. That is a personal child growing up… I actually stumbled on entrepreneurship with a good friend who is a 200% entrepreneur at heart. We became friends in school, and he asked me to join him. That was my entrepreneurship school. Just being with him. Just to put in the perspective, this was 1991 when we started there are no VCs in Israel. Just to paint a picture of how different Israel was at the time. We were completely bootstrapped by people that didn’t have the funds. Meaning, and very different journey, but Shay had actually stumbled a little bit on a lawyer really and grabbed me with them. And the three of us, actually created something that is something very, very significant. The old words without raising millions, millions of dollars at day one, etc.

Noa Eshed 9:02
And how much did his, their experience play in?

Udi Ziv 9:05
You know, entrepreneurship, it’s an instinct, it’s not about experience. You either have it or don’t. You can learn some of the traits that I think it’s something that it’s mostly stated. And I think they’ve done a beautiful job of all of us together is a big word that I use a lot, and that is “balance”. Suddenly you take anything and create a balance between the different factors. I think it was a great balancing in how we started between two entrepreneurs going crazy and doing things the right way, building in the right way. This is what got the company we found, very, very successful. The way it was run.

Noa Eshed 9:54
And you’re saying it’s an instinct, and I agree, but the fact that you had such experienced partners, did you feel like you were looking to them as mentors?

Udi Ziv 10:05
Well, Ruben and Shay’s father was very experienced. Shay was absolutely not experienced. Having said that, absolutely, you can have mentors that are very young, entrepreneurship is not only, definitely not about age. It’s about the Tracy house. Again, the beautiful thing we had is that we each mentored each other in what we were strong at. From an entrepreneurship perspective, taking the risks, dreaming big, definitely I was mentored. Doing it right, in building something solid, very sure that I was mentoring them. Again, that’s a great balance you get in a good partnership.

Ronen 11:00
If you have to give like this, like a certain attribute of each one of the teammates, meaning, let’s say Shay, Ruben yourself, what would be like the one characteristic, key differentiation between each one?

Udi Ziv 11:12
Ruben was the experienced, solid businessman. Basically taught us the basics of business. We were kids, maybe early twenties. Shay was a dreamer. Probably the most impressive, talented, successful dreamer I’ve ever worked with. And I was the executioner, I had to get stuff done. And I think a combination of the three was really very well balanced. We fought a lot. It always looks like one big happy family, but we fought a lot. We had a lot of arguments because we get a lot of different vectors pulling in different directions. But at the end of a fight, we used to have a tiny, tiny conference room where we sometimes spent nights, arguing, raising our voices. But when we walked out in the morning, it was always, here’s the decision, here’s how we do things, and it worked beautifully again, created the balance.

Noa Eshed 12:22
What was the idea? What made you join this?

Udi Ziv 12:25
Yeah, there wasn’t there wasn’t any idea. We were just, we knew we wanted to do something. We didn’t know what. It was bootstrap. So basically, the first five years we were doing project started companies. But doing it in a smart way, meaning we were able to keep technology, pieces of corporate value created throughout these years, to ourselves. So without funding we’re under so we have to fund ourselves by doing projects for larger companies. We started collecting assets, technology assets. In five years into the journey, started leveraging towards our own product, which at the time was was called Enterprise Portal. It was a web based portal that allowed business applications that were not on the web. And remember, this was mid 90s, to actually be exposed on the web. Basically, companies that were not able to get their software onto the web used Toptier to kind of dispose and get a web experience. By the way five years after that, this is where SAP acquired Toptier for at the time for a very significant amount of money. Because SAP was considered to be the company that missed the web, and they have to very quickly webify their applications…

Noa Eshed 14:05
And was the plan when you set off to provide services and try to see how through those services, you evolve into a product?

Udi Ziv 14:14
Yeah, we always had the notion that we will become our own company with our own product, just so we can afford it. Very different times, no, no place to raise money, so we basically had to collect it by doing these software projects, by the way, very innovative, great software projects.

Noa Eshed 14:38
But how did you have that wisdom that building a product would be something that at the long run would be more profitable and successful than providing services? Because many companies actually opt for the service. Whereas I think these days, it’s pretty clear that a product would be the way to go, but I’m not sure in the 90s that was very clear.

Udi Ziv 14:58
No, I think it was clear. Look Israel was very, very much behind at the times Sillicon Valley, which was our model, the whole time. The notion of product companies with VCs, etc, forming and becoming a very successful product company was very warmed up. It’s just it wasn’t something that was very common in Israel, definitely. So we knew what we wanted to do. The aspiration was very significant, just that we have to do it in different ways, and companies in the last 20 years.

Ronen 15:38
So who are these people who believed in you like, who are the investors then? Pre VCs. So who are these crazy people investing in these 20 year olds, you know, with little experience? Like, who is the people who jumped on and like, you know, what did that mean for you?

Udi Ziv 15:55
So for the first five years, nobody. We had some basic funding, Ruben and Shay, but very basic. And the rest was, was self funded because there weren’t any investors. By the way if we were seen by investors, they would say – we’re crazy, who are these crazy kids? So, at that stage no one, but the first money we’ve raised was five years later, six. This is when we had the actual product, or the initial phase of the actual product. And by then it was fairly clear that there’s something significant.

Ronen 16:37
So actually, you AB tested this whole time, and created the brainstorming of the idea, while giving services?

Udi Ziv 16:44
You know, if you have the funds, you can go in the straight line towards your goal. Now, often it won’t be successful, many companies fail in doing so. And when you do it the way we have done it, basically developing for other people, you definitely don’t go in the straight line, because different companies pull in different directions. But as the time progressed, we basically, the common thing about everything you’ve done just happened to be, it has to do with how consumers or how users I’d say, consume applications. We thought we found the modern, modern, unique way of doing it. More or less was the commonality we were doing, that’s how the notion of this Enterprise Portal came about.

Noa Eshed 17:40
But that’s an amazing way to find that product market fit. Because you’re working with different clients, you’re not just guessing you’re actually providing a service and getting feedback and seeing what’s resonating and what isn’t. And through that toning, what becomes a product. I think that’s a fantastic way to go. Like I think versus you know, knowing exactly what you want to do, and getting funding. I would say any day, that sounds like a better plan.

Ronen 18:05
Would you do it differently?

Udi Ziv 18:06
It’s definitely a better plan. But it has its costs. It’s slow, because you experiment and it’s also slow because you don’t have the funding, which is an accelerator. And definitely when you look at the craziness that is happening on the market now, or that happened in the last 12 months. Funding it’s a mega accelerator of an operation. So I think it’s more solid. But it’s so…

Noa Eshed 18:33
Interesting, because I would say the fundings are mega accelerators, but they sometimes sort of make startups lift their ear off the ground. And when you have to listen all the time, and then you have to be more accurate. So I guess that’s, those are just different tactics may be towards the same goal.

Udi Ziv 18:54
Yeah, I do actually agree, I think many companies are pulling up to their ears off the ground. While you know, making moves in the direction is a great idea and a lot of money. It’s all about balance. It’s good if you can run faster if you know what you’re doing. Also, remember not to get confused. Because the fact that you’ve raised a lot of money doesn’t mean that you’re gonna be successful. It doesn’t mean that you’ll build a solid business, with a solid business model with those sustainable growth. It just means a certain point in time someone, thought it could. That’s all it means.

Noa Eshed 19:40
Yeah, it seems like the press sometimes in social media tend to pop the champagne on the actual rounds of funding versus what success really means when sometimes even there are very impressive lifestyle businesses that are not on the radar, because they don’t qualify as success based on very narrow metrics. So it’s interesting to hear, you know, sort of that perspective, just in general of, of just being on the ground and adding value and understanding what value means to your customers.

Udi Ziv 20:12
Yeah. And you know, being in the tech scene for over 30 years now, I’ve also seen it evolve. And I think you’re right, I think the measurement of success has changed. And I think a lot of it has to do with the media, a lot of it has to do with what is being celebrated. Just celebrating how much money you’ve raised, and it’s great, it’s a great achievement, it’s not easy to raise money. It’s not easy making your business worth investing in and definitely not needing to announce. So shut off, that’s great. But what does it mean? Are you able to provide real value, able to find an sustainable business model, that it’s not just about spending $5 to gain $1. I think that is something that happened in the market in the last several years. We all enjoyed this, but it has its price. Because sometimes people will get confused. You know, our industries and manic, manic depressive industry. When everything is going crazy. It’s really crazy. Everyone is being told, forget about business models, forget about anything, just grow, grow, grow, spend as much money as you can. And the minute later, when depression, it’s that side of manic depression. It’s all about layoffs, and – oh what do you mean, what about profitability? A word that wasn’t been used for years. Now, that’s the basics of the industry nowadays, this manic depression.

Noa Eshed 22:13
Balance, as you said.

Udi Ziv 22:15
Yeah, I think it’s all about balance. And you know, maybe being older than some of the people maybe being having been through the 2001. crisis, 2008. one and going through the cycles, you learn that just not to get confused, not to get confused, in the manic, and also not in the depression side of it. It’s all about balance. If you do it, right, the spikes, I mean they exist, but they are much softer and smaller than what you’re seeing out there.

Ronen 22:55
What is success, then? How do you know? Because if not raising money may not be an exit, but like how do you know it when you were successful? When did you own it?

Udi Ziv 23:04
You know, maybe the best answer would when SAP acquired TopTier. It was a 400 million dollars acquisition. Right after the crash of the market. It was a very, very significant financial transaction. I remember the first customary conference SAP had, I was in the audience. The technology at TopTier was presented to customers as a default for all of them in future. And I had this thought in my mind that with all the money, transactions involved, so much prouder of just the fact that now what I’ve built with my, my teams own hands will reach the whole world. So there’s always the financial aspects of success. But I think, really, it’s about how much difference do you make. Have you able, cause I mean, definitely you can say in healthcare and other areas where it’s probably more important, but even in business have you, were you able to build something that change the world? To me, that’s, that’s what you should strive, should strive for. Being in a place where potentially you can change the world is very rewarding, very rewarding.

Noa Eshed 24:29
I love that. And I think you can serve within the the inner compass for a startup, you know, raising money, but not exactly sure what success is with respect to profitability, and all those words thrown around now in a bubble bursting, and then I think if you were making an impact, then I think that’s a good sign.

Udi Ziv 24:47
Yeah, I think you’re right. Again, this manic depression. People get confused. They’re measuring the wrong things. I think what I try to do, and it’s not always easy, you’re being pulled in different directions, is really to ask the basic questions. Is this bringing value to customers? Is our customers happy? Is it my great investors deck? Or is it me that a customer would say that this is what it’s doing? I think at the end of the day, and again, it goes back to balance. If you’re building, something that does bring value, customers are happy with, good things will happen. Even if in any given point in time, there’s a sexier company that is doing something that is hotter than what you’re doing. If you’re building something that’s real and it raises real value, because you’re happy with it, the market is large enough…

Noa Eshed 25:55
Did you take time off after that exit?

Udi Ziv 26:01
Not after the exit. It’s always get off one road and you hit the larger road. Cars are flying all over you. So you have to drive fast. But I did for a few months after I left the city six years after the transaction. But I’m actually not good at taking time off.

Noa Eshed 26:23

Udi Ziv 26:23
I love the action. Some people will say I didn’t exercise the muscles taking time off, which is probably true. But I give myself the rationale that I just love the action. I enjoy, enjoy the adrenaline, the action, enjoy the family that comes with it, because I don’t see my own family that I love and enjoy spending time with, there’s always a family in the office. I enjoy the camaraderie that work with people in partnership. It’s a little lonely when you’re taking time off.

Noa Eshed 27:04
We’re excited to be collaborating with the Israeli website Ctech owned by Calcalist, Israel’s leading business newspaper. Ctech is the gateway of the Israeli high tech to the tech world and vice versa. If you’re not already a regular reader, we strongly recommend that you check out calcalisttech.com. To stay up to date on all high impact stories from the Israeli tech scene.

Noa Eshed 27:30
And what was that larger road that you felt that you are now embarking?

Udi Ziv 27:35
Yeah, so you know, anytime you’re, you’re doing something that is smaller, could be extremely exciting, could be somebody potentially could change the world, but it is small. And when you’re small, you don’t have the tools and the people or the processes, systems to operate in a big way. And when you either grow organically, which also happens. Experiencing this at Earnix nowadays. Or when you’re joining forces acquired by large company, all of a sudden, one day you get exposure of the whole market and again if I take the TopTier SAP example, TopTier was a 270 people company. When SAP acquired us, then 35000, the largest empire software company in the world. Almost any transaction in the world somehow is related to SAP. And all of a sudden from chasing, chasing customers, our own customers adopt here, which is a painful thing, but in any small company all of a sudden, most of the markets is using what we’re doing. That’s a very significant highway. You get on and it has different constraints or different requirements, or different demands, but in a way an amazing school, coming from a smaller company.

Noa Eshed 29:02
Did you suddenly feel like you’re punching above your weight?

Udi Ziv 29:05
No, I never had that feeling. But as I said, it was an amazing school. We came out of a startup that’s the first thing we’ve done in 10 years. We knew we’re doing a great thing. But all of a sudden we came to a company that was the best in the world, and the largest in a world, so much to learn. When people ask me how, how you can what I have today and probably the same work balances is being an entrepreneur creates different muscles or certain muscles. In a big way, being a large company, you basically build very different muscles. I think to balance between different muscles is what creates a whole person.

Noa Eshed 29:58
So you’re coming into an office now and it’s a whole new life in a sense, and there’s so much that you don’t know. And I think it’s probably easy to get overwhelmed. Do you have, who do you, who do you learn from? Is it just, you know, trial and error? Or there’s suddenly all these guidelines that you have to adhere to, and through that adjust, and, and absorb? Or like, how do you navigate this?

Udi Ziv 30:21
I’ll share a little bit of how I started Earnix, and my current company six years ago. Earnix sells mostly to insurance and banking, to industries that I’m not an expert. I came in and I didn’t know much about the industry, I didn’t know much about the products, very analytical product, pricing facilitation, very sophisticated product. I didn’t know much about technology, and I definitely didn’t know much about the industry. So here’s your question – what do you do? Do you know what you’re doing? I think, first of all, I think there’s a lot of commonality we mentioned. Common sense, that your bring, regardless of what the subject matter is. Having said that, I think the most important thing is and I try to tell this to the every person I hire, sometimes I’m successful in sharing that and sometimes not, is that use your ears not mouth, listen, listen, listen and listen. It’s very tempting as a manager, especially if you’re kind of anxious to prove yourself that you’re worthy of the job. It’s very tempting to state out what you think, we’re all coming from your prior experience. That’s a mistake because you’re missing a lot. They’re always smart people around you, people that know the industry, know the products, that have different perspectives. And of course, you know, when they hired me, they wanted my experience. They wanted me to use the tools I’ve generated 25 years prior. But I took the time to basically kind of mix the learnings from the people that were in the company. And you have to be humble, you have to ask questions. You have to not, not say – here I know what needs to be done. And then mix all that knowledge, look your prior experience and knowledge, which always is important. I think mixtures are what gives the end results at the end of it, that and more balance.

Noa Eshed 32:33
And there was a chapter before Earnix where you were an employee, right?

Udi Ziv 32:38
Well, yeah, I always like to think of myself as an employee as well.

Noa Eshed 32:41
Okay, fair, but like not a partner.

Udi Ziv 32:43
Yes I was. I was an executive. I mean, since we sold TopTier, I was always an executive, but you’re always also an employee, even now, I’m CEO for the last 10 years, at the board who I’ve worked for. So you’re always part manager, and part employee.

Noa Eshed 33:03
Okay, no, but I’m sort of pointing towards you not being an entrepreneur for a while?

Udi Ziv 33:08
Oh, yeah, definitely.

Ronen 33:09
What did that give you being like, an executive and like, you know, international companies like, separate, because it’s sort of like the, nowadays, you know, people are, it’s like, studying that, that they don’t get it anymore. You know, I mean, and working with those global companies, you know, everybody wants to, you know, four people, eight people Instagram exits. So like, what did that give you, in a sense, like, did it give you or was it a waste of time?

Udi Ziv 33:34
I think it’s an absolutely a major part of the toolbox. What it gave me is mostly to learn of operating scale. You know, usually when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s very clear what you’re doing, how you’re doing it on a small scale. I always say getting into the first million dollars of sales is very difficult. And then getting from one to ten, it’s very difficult and then from ten to a hundred is very difficult. And from a hundred to billions is also very difficult and it’s almost like different tools that we need to use. I’ve been on boards of companies that, great companies that entrepreneur grew the company to $10 – $15 million of sales, and we thought that you could use the exact same tools he was using to grow a company to a larger company, it just didn’t work. And I think what I got from both being an entrepreneur but also working as an executive in large companies, is the understanding of what it needs to operate. What does it look like, what you should strive for when you are smaller and want to build an operation that scaled. I think the balance between knowing how to operate in a very small scale and a very entrepreneurship style, which is a lot of risk taking in a lot of ventures almost, and at the same time going on operate the largest in it’s industry company. It paves the roads on what needs to be done.

Ronen 35:08
But we want to give some listeners, some cheats. So like, give me in a practical sense, like give me three lessons on scaling, if I want to have a global things, like or things to watch out for, you know, things that, you know, I need to do scale.

Udi Ziv 35:22
Sure. I think the most difficult challenge smaller companies face in scaling up is what I call the hero mentality in small companies that you mostly have, are a few heroes, usually founders, but could be other people around them to basically do everything and actually get everything done. Whether it’s in sales or in product, it really doesn’t matter, it’s these heroes that creates the company. Heroes as, as heroic as they are, can only scale that much, and it’s easier to top at sales. So if you’re in the hero, sales person, one of the founders, and let’s say they sell five times more than a normal person, but they don’t sell 20 times more. And if you want to sell 20 times more, he has to change. And that’s probably the most difficult part because the instinct of these heroes is to continue being heroes to basically, shed overshadow everyone around them in a good, not in a bad intent. And it’s extremely important when you get to scale that there are a lot of I would say, great people, or people, even mediocre people that get stuff done. And the realization that you cannot only build an organization on these heroes is very significant. That’s many cases, that’s when people hit a wall. That’s one. The second learning is a, in a small company, you should think that the company should and can do everything. When you grow up you learn that even the largest companies is, are built in partnerships. There are different levers for scale one, one very significant one is the right partnerships. I remember at SAP at the time, SAP was selling three something billion dollars, it’s a huge company and the CEO said he was challenged by – why are you giving so much services to some marketers? And he said – look, yeah, we can do those services, we can get those billions ourselves. But then they won’t be leveraging, we won’t be leveraging their assets and their presence in the market. So that’s a second learning, I would say that, if you form the right partnerships, it’s very, very significant scaling factor. And one to three, so here’s the third. Many companies again small entrepreneurial companies are all built on a single product. If you talk about enterprise software, which is where I’ve been at for the last 30+ years. You cannot cut it with a single product, it’s very tempting to say I’m very good at this product, I’ll just do this. End of the day, you need to be able to sell more products to the same customers. So if the instinct is to say “I’m very good at this, but just at this” then learning from larger companies, that you have to constantly build new products, and create multi product strategy, so that you have, your sales people would have more to sell to the same customers.

Noa Eshed 39:02
Sort of keep reinventing yourself and don’t get too comfortable.

Udi Ziv 39:06
Yeah, exactly. That’s always true, but also reinventing by broadening the offering not just by reinventing the next feature within the same product. I mean, think of these are consumer examples. But think of Apple just selling one thing. They were building at tiers. And then iPod, then phones and now look what they’re doing. Look at Amazon. What is, what is an online bookstore has to do with the cloud, the largest cloud service in the world. At the end of the day, if you just keep doing this thing you’re good at, that’s not good enough if you want to scale. These were consumer product examples but it’s just the same, it’s very important learning.

Noa Eshed 39:54
Why did you start Earnix?

Udi Ziv 39:55
I didn’t start Earnix, I joined Earnix 15 years after it started. Earnix was a great company before I joined. It was a company that was looking for scale. It got a great product, great customers, great people. And I think in some senses was growing slower than the potential was. And when they asked me to join CEO, basically, what the investors wanted me to do, scale it up, which is my passion in life. And especially if you come into a good company that has solid foundation, which is always about product, people and customers, it’s fun, it’s not easy, but it’s fun to scale.

Ronen 40:40
How do you do that? Because it’s sort of like a program or taking over a site, you know, and then different code. So like, how do you get in a company, you know, and like, you know, there’s also the authority thing, and there’s also the culture and accepting yourself and understanding, you know, the deep I call it like, metaphorically code, how do you how do you integrate yourself?

Udi Ziv 40:59
Yeah, again there are different philosophies. Mine is collaboration, engagement, partnership. You always have the authority, that’s the given. CEO has the authority, and people get it right away. Not pushing it if you decide to apply it. You apply it in good force. And there’s very successful CEOs that will tell you that the first day they come in, they fire three of the VPs, establish it that they’re the bosses. And you know what, I don’t argue, I mean if it works for them, great. My style is very different. It’s about listening, it’s about collaborating, it’s about forming the partnerships. At the end of the day, when you’re brought into a job like this, you’re wanting to make change. So obviously, it’s not just about that’s continuing entrepreneurship. The way to get people to follow you, in my mind is all about partnership, collaboration, engagement with them. And, and I don’t say slowly, because it wasn’t slow, but not in radical, almost irrational movements. Collaborating in more fluid, harmonic way that people who understand what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, you are making changes, obviously, I did. It becomes something that makes sense to people, it’s rational.

Noa Eshed 42:19
And it sounds like the board here are good partners, because I’m assuming that being able to identify that the company is scaling, but it’s not maximizing potential is not something that’s intuitive necessarily.

Udi Ziv 42:33
You’re absolutely right. In the earliest case, I think they were smart enough, and I would say in the market enough, because sometimes you find boards that are completely disconnected. And again, I’m not judging anyone, but they look at the sell sheets versus looking at businesses. And this one they’d understand the business, they were speaking to customers, they understood that certain point in time, they understood that the value of the company is much bigger than it takes. Again, the word scale. Now we call companies like Earnix scales, but six years ago, that term wasn’t, wasn’t used, but they figured that they need to scale and I guess they looked for me. Again, I didn’t come from the background of the industries or even technology, but I did, they thought I possessed the scaling up muscles that are required,

Noa Eshed 43:32
Which is pretty evident that you do and I’m also assuming that this is not going to be the last startup that you enter, either by founding or by joining in order to scale right? Like you really love this, don’t you?

Udi Ziv 43:45
Yeah, I love it. I think there’s nothing professionally more gratifying than taking something that has the potential and growing it. Yeah, I love it.

Noa Eshed 43:59
What’s your superpower?

Udi Ziv 44:00
Can I say luck? Luck has a lot of to do with a lot of powers, not many people agree I guess.

Ronen 44:09
By the way, luck is a superpower. You know, in Hebrew, they say Mazal which is, you know, Makon, Zman, La’asot, which means place, a timing and actually doing, so as an executioner in the beginning he could be, but you have to make it in a practical sense, because it’s not the external.

Udi Ziv 44:23
Absolutely agree. But I think the combination of the wanting to being very litical. I’m an engineer by by education and very litical. But at the same time, very, very, very healthy instincts. I think if you’re looking at any manager, who’s CEO, that’s very, very important balance. If you’re only intuitive, if you’re only following instincts, you may be doing the wrong things. But I also think If you’re only litical and looking only at the excel sheets of the world and the business models of the world, you’re also missing something. I think that throughout the years I’ve gained a very balanced combination, the litical and intuitive way of managing which, which I enjoy, it’s fun, and I also think it’s successful.

Noa Eshed 45:22
And your kryptonite?

Udi Ziv 45:23
Maybe, it’s personal, but maybe touch upon the inability to take time off, to not do what I’m doing. One day I may have to change that.

Noa Eshed 45:35
But you know also, one of the first things that you’ve mentioned is your concern towards your kids. So, maybe in a sense, by doing you’re also distracting yourself to not overwhelm you.

Ronen 45:49
Or maybe the superpower is a little bit of both called accountability because they think like the are you accountable? I like it sounds like the superpower you are an litical. But like, you stand to me as a person that’s very accountable.

Udi Ziv 46:02

Ronen 46:02
So that’s why you’re always doing because you’re always accountable about something. Is there truth in that or did I like throw it off?

Udi Ziv 46:08
No, no, it’s it’s very insightful. I’m very accountable. And I also think accountability is an incredibly important trait for professionally and personally. Absolutely right. I don’t think I’m distracted. I’m not worried, that you know when instructing on people, I don’t think I’m considered a worried person, but I’m sure, work is distracting in a good way. A lot of stuff that’s happening.

Noa Eshed 46:41
Beautiful. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.

Udi Ziv 46:44
Thank you for having me. It’s been pleasure.

Noa Eshed 46:47
And lots of luck scaling stuff.

Udi Ziv 46:49

Ronen 46:50
Scaling stuff.

Noa Eshed 46:51
All right, bye bye.

Udi Ziv 46:53
Bye bye, thank you.

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