‘A good founder must be able to face ugly truths and deal with them’

28 Sep 2021

Tzahi Weisfeld. Image: Intel Ignite

Intel Ignite’s Tzahi Weisfeld discusses the importance of listening to feedback and why founders should never go into pitch meetings alone.

Tzahi Weisfeld is the general manager and VP of Intel Ignite, the company’s early-stage programme for tech start-ups, which runs accelerators in Tel Aviv and Munich.

Weisfeld is an experienced figure in the start-up scene. He used to run Microsoft for Startups and is a serial entrepreneur himself.

‘The biggest mistake founders make is falling in love with their own idea and not listening to feedback’

In your opinion, which areas of science and technology hold the greatest scope for opportunities?

From what I can see, clearly the semiconductor industry is seeing a rebirth with a seemingly unlimited demand for chips.

Some other areas that went through tipping points during Covid and which have huge potential include the e-health, e-gov and edtech sectors.

Of course, anything related to artificial intelligence and machine learning is also seeing huge growth.

What are the qualities of a good founder? Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?

A good founder must be super optimistic, passionate, and know how to face ugly truths and deal with them. They must have the capacity to dream big and have the ability to achieve their dreams using their grit and tenacity.

I believe most entrepreneurs are born this way. Entrepreneurs can nurture and grow their grit and tenacity and passion, but they need to have these things within them from the very beginning.

What does a successful entrepreneur need to do every day? What tools and resources are a must?

A successful entrepreneur needs to know how to listen to learn, be able to analyse markets and prospects, and constantly change and adapt. They need to build a group of mentors for themselves, be able to hustle and sell all day, but at the end also listen carefully to feedback. They also need to remember that they usually aren’t at product-market fit yet and that they are still navigating.

What is the critical ingredient to start-up success?

To have success as a start-up, an entrepreneur needs to surround themselves with an amazing team, their company needs to be solving real issue, and they need to be constantly learning and adapting to changes. They also need great mentors to help guide them along the path towards success.

How can founders assemble a good team?

The best way for an entrepreneur to get the best people is by making people fall in love with them and their start-up. An entrepreneur needs to win people over with passion.

What advice do you have for founders who are starting to look for investment?

The best way to begin looking for investment is actually not by going to your ‘top potential investors’ first. Instead, entrepreneurs should first pitch their company and story to more friendly investors or ones they don’t mind being rejected by. That way, they will be able to gain feedback and learn how to improve on their pitch, enabling them to give their best, most refined pitch to their top potential investors.

In addition, entrepreneurs should try not to go to pitch meetings alone, as it’s hard to step back and truly listen to investors and collect feedback as the entrepreneur is passionately pitching.

What are the biggest mistakes that founders make?

The biggest mistake founders make is falling in love with their own idea and not listening to feedback from mentors, investors or others.

What are your views on mentorship and the qualities one should look for in a mentor?

I believe mentors are a key ingredient of success. Therefore, entrepreneurs should be careful picking their mentors.

For instance, service providers typically are not good mentors. Instead, find other successful entrepreneurs who are willing to pay it forward. The tech ecosystem is full of people wanting to help, so entrepreneurs need to pick wisely and try not to get fooled.

What’s the number-one piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs?

The number one piece of advice I have for entrepreneurs is two-fold. The first is they need to surround themselves with great mentors, and the second is to actively listen and be open to learning.

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