Today on the show we have Michael Eisenberg. The co-founder and partner of a venture capital firm based in Israel, Aleph. For 20 years Michael has been investing in early stage companies and seeing them through from startups to becoming global businesses. Helping entrepreneurs build large and global companies and brands.
Did you always know you liked investing and would end up in this type of business?
Where I was in collage I wanted to minor in business or finance, but I wasn’t accepted. I originally thought I wanted to go into politics. My inspiration for business came from a few places. My grandfather was in business and I was always intrigued by technology.
When you’re looking a company, what do you think the most important quality or characteristic traits are in the entrepreneur?
I don’t think there is one magic formula. I think there are certain traits that great entrepreneurs seem to have. A benchmark we use to say, learn-it-alls are not know-it-alls. Second, if you’re an entrepreneur you should hire people that are better than you, or better in different areas than you, to scale your business – and then give them the ball and let them run with it. If a good entrepreneur comes your way with a good idea and differentiated view – they’re the heroes of the business.
What advice would you have for a 20 year old entrepreneur that came to you looking to create something for the future?
Each entrepreneur is different and each business and it’s really hard to generalize and give generic advice.
Looking at the investments you’ve seen over the past 25 years, is there one particular company that came to you and you looked at it and passed on it, but looking at it now would you have seen something different?
I tend not to dwell on misses or successes. The venture business is all about what’s new and what’s in 10 years – not what was in the past. I tend to try and take a fresh look and not carry my baggage from the past with me into looking at new investments.
Do you think you’ve learned more from a successful investment or from one that went badly?
Neither. I learned most from the new entrepreneurs who walk into my office with new ideas. They’re the guys thinking about the future. At the next level, I learn the most from my partners in business and my partner in life, which is my wife. Who challenge all you assumptions all the time. The worst thing in a partnership of any kind, whether it’s your business partnership or your marriage, is consensus. You want people to challenge everything that you think and say and poke intellectual holes in it. That’s what makes you better.
When you see 2 businesses fighting for the same space, how do you think about what is going to make this one the winner, or one of the winners?
I tend not to think that much about competition. I think these guys make or not make it over time. And competition tends to emerge when they’re a big markets and it forces you to be better at product.
Looking back over the past 25 years, knowing what you know now, is there one thing that you would have done differently?
Was how valuable to be married young. I got married at 22 and my wife was 20. And I think having a life partner to go through all of this with was the most important thing in my life for that time period. And I think the most important thing in life is who you share it with. I would not have guessed how important that was personally and professionally.
Is there one thing that you are most proud of?
My family, my kids. That’s obvious, it’s the most important thing. Family, kids, faith. That’s what it comes down to.