Interview with young entrepreneur Lior Levin from 0

Lior is a young (23) entrepreneur from Israel working on a start-up called Veedda since October 2007. He has been named one of the most promising young entrepreneurs in Israel for 2008 by TheMarker business magazine (Israel). Also, he is the founder of a group called YIE, which gathers all young Israeli entrepreneurs under the age of 30 that have a start-up and is sponsored by a local VC firm called Giza. Here is what I found out:

Hi Lior, and welcome on board. You are a young entrepreneur from Israel; tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lior: I was born and raised in Israel except for 2 years when I lived in California, United States. Just recently, I discovered with myself that I was an entrepreneur since age 7. Back then, I didn’t realize that it’s called entrepreneurship. For me, it was just a natural thing to do. I kept on starting “kids” businesses, and when the internet came, I started getting into it. Working in few successful Israeli Internet start-ups in marketing and product positions, and about a year and a half ago, I started my own company. Called Vedda.

As you’ve been an entrepreneur since the age of 7, I have to ask. What was your first business?

Lior: Car washing. I never imagined I’ll have to do the pitch again, but here it is. We basically saved time for people who lived in the neighborhood, our price was competitive, and we did a great job. It was great money for two 7-year-old boys.

Now that you are looking back to that experience, how aware of things you were? I mean, how much you understand about doing business when you are 7?

Lior: I wasn’t aware at all. I didn’t even know it’s called business. I just wanted to do stuff and make some money. I loved it. My parents aren’t entrepreneurs, and they never told me what I am doing is business or entrepreneurship. I learned that a little later from books.

Ok, so since October 2007 you working on a start-up called Vedda. What is this about?

Lior: Veedda is a new and different way to consume content online. Most people use RSS readers (Google reader) or personal homepage (Netvibes, Google). We offer a different way where the user registers, picks the topics he’s interested in life (entrepreneurship, online marketing, PHP, Italian good), and from then, we crawl the web to bring him articles about these topics.

How is this different from a regular RSS-based portal?

Lior: The difference is that in the current tools (RSS readers, personal homepage), the user has to choose websites he wants to get content from. On Vedda, she just has to pick her favorite topics makes it much more mainstream suitable.

What’s the money revenue model? Who is your target?

Lior: Our target audience is people who like to consume content online and are having trouble with the current tool. People who don’t like RSS readers and non-techies that can’t understand how to operate an RSS reader.

You told me that you had been funded by one of the most famous angel investors here in Israel.  What’s the most important thing when pitching for funds?

Lior: Yes, we have been funded by Jeff Pulver, who is also an investor in Twitter, seismic, and many other known start-ups. I think the most important thing is to come ready. Pitch your idea to 15 people who are not investors before you meet the first one.

You are a Co-Founder of the “Young Israeli Entrepreneurs” group. A group of start-up founders not older than 30. How is the entrepreneurship environment for your people in Israel?

Lior: oh, it’s awesome. Jeff Pulver, who travels the world a lot with his breakfast events, says Israel has the best entrepreneurship environment together with Silicon Valley. People here are born and raised to be entrepreneurs. It’s a cultural thing which has to do with our history.

Any advice you would like to give young people willing to start a business in Israel?

Lior: find partners and start small. We, the young entrepreneurs, don’t know enough about life and business, and we need to advance slowly. Take your time and expect to fail the first time.

You were named as one of the “Most Promising Entrepreneurs in Israel” by TheMarker business magazine for 2008.  How does it feel, and do you think it’s true? What plans do you have for the future?

Lior: it’s nice. PR is a good method to advance your business. I don’t have many plans, actually. Just to try to keep doing what I love and earn a living from it.

Oogiot: a different project that you co-founded. Can you tell us a few words about it?

Lior: Yes. It was a group blog, the first of his kind in Israel, where we gathered some of the best people in the internet industry here in Israel and wrote in Hebrew about web-related ventures. Sort of like the ReadWriteWeb in Hebrew (only they are much smarter than us).

So what do you need right now to take Veedda further? What are the next steps?

Lior: I am working on our next round of funding, and after this phase will be completed, we’re planning on launching Veedda to the public and start growing our user base.

By the way, most start-ups have problems marketing their products. How do you market Vedda? Anything you could advise other young start-ups?

Lior: Well, if you look at most successful internet products, their growth was viral, and what made the difference was the product and how it was executed. I believe that online marketing is 90% product and 10% marketing. So I think you need to work on the product until it’s good enough so people will tell about it to their friends. Also, viral features in the product can work very well. All of the above is relevant to consumer products, not enterprise or white label.

What is the thing you hate most about technological start-ups?

Lior: I don’t hate anything. I love them. But I wish people would take technology less seriously and invest more in their real life.

Any other words of wisdom for young entrepreneurs looking to start a new business?

Lior: find what field interests you and start a business there. It will be fun; you’ll evolve as a person much more than when working for others, and you might even make good money out of it.

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