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Gili Raanan
Gili Raanan

I enjoy reading Isaac Asimov books. He describes humanity hundreds of years from now and you realize that even with the use of the most advanced technology, basic human challenges remain the same.

I often apply Asimov’s insights to my work with entrepreneurs, where even the most complex business challenges are usually solved by human attributes such as trust, chemistry and empathy.

I am interested in software that changes the way enterprises are operating. On the consumer side, I am very interested in services that solve a basic real-life problem.

I grew up in Kfar Saba in the 70s and early 80s. It was a small city and even a trip to Tel Aviv was a major operation. I always felt I had to prove myself and be as good as the guy who grew up in the big city.

It’s one of the reasons why I like challenging myself. I am always testing my limits and pushing them just a little bit further.

In 1994, at the age of 23, I ran a major computing project in the army with a mission to migrate an entire section of 8200 from a mainframe computer (they were running on the same system since 1950) to an open system. The moment we flipped the switch two years later was terrifying and yet very rewarding.

When I told my parents I am quitting military service and setting up my own company, my father said, "son, this is the biggest mistake you will ever make." That was the feeling. Work hard. Stay safe. I wanted just the opposite.

The easiest part of running a start-up is when there are no investments, no employees and no customers. As it goes on, it just gets more complicated.

I started my first venture in Israel aged 27 and raised money from Sequoia Capital in 1998. By the time I started my second venture, I was 33 years old and already living in Cupertino, California.

I know how difficult it is to build a business that is spread across several continents, when you speak the wrong language, have the wrong accent, and your VP of R&D’s phone number starts with the wrong country code.

As an entrepreneur I faced extremely difficult situations where I felt very alone, and yet to the outside world, I had to look positive and in control.

Many entrepreneurs don’t have anyone to talk to and as an investor, I try to bridge that gap. It's more about brainstorming and giving support, than anything else.

One of the common characteristics I find among great entrepreneurs is the ability to clearly convey a very sophisticated, futuristic vision in simple words that you or I would understand.

You don’t set up a start-up if you are afraid of failing. A good start-up executive is able to identify the one thing out of ten that works and turn it into a machine.

I love sport. Soccer, basketball…I have even flown to the other side of the world to watch a great game. But I try to exercise as little as possible.

Make sure you do things you really like. Everything is possible.