Cervin Founder Spotlight: Oren Yogev of Blink
Oren Yogev is the co-founder and CEO of Blink, an industry leading technology company developing a non-intrusive (passive) eye tracking technology that doesn’t require dedicated hardware. The AI-based software solution can be deployed with any camera technology on the market today.
Oren is also the founder of Replay Technologies, a developer of video 3D reconstruction technologies, which was acquired by Intel in 2016.
We asked Oren a few questions about his experience as a founder and advice he would give to the next generation of entrepreneurs.
What advice would you go back in time and give yourself when starting your first company?
I would advise myself to monitor my cash flow more closely and be less optimistic when determining the right timing for my next round of funding. In a few situations, while steering my first company, I was close to running out of capital. Luckily, I had great investors who backed me up and gave me the right amount of funds to sail through those hard times.
After the successful exit of your first startup Replay Technologies, what made you start Blink and what have you done differently this time around?
I had a few success stories before Replay Technologies, but I wanted to create a bigger win and start even a bigger company after its exit. After Replay was acquired, I worked for a very large corporation for a few months, but I realized that my entrepreneurial soul is stronger than my corporate soul. I decided that I needed to do what my instinct and brain were guiding me towards, which was creating another start up.
With Blink, I managed its funds differently than before and started with more financial cushion for the first two years, which allowed me to take more risks on the way to finding the right product-market fit.
As a founder, what question are you asked more than any other?
I get asked, “Are serial entrepreneurs smarter or just lucky and whether serial entrepreneurs actually do better?”
Everybody needs luck, but I feel this alone can’t explain the results, as “luck is not repeatable.”
If serial entrepreneurs were simply lucky, then their second firms would tend to fail or, at best, be as successful as the firms of the average novice entrepreneur. Instead, when serial entrepreneurs open a second firm, studies show it generally performs better than the first.
What foundational step is most critical to building an enduring company?
While a principled founding team can create a great company and guide the vision, an enduring company requires a disciplined leadership system that is implemented very early in its history. The system should enable the delegation and distribution of decision making throughout the organization. It is rooted in people practices that help a company recruit, develop, and retain leadership talent at all levels — and make decisions that align with the company’s visions and values.
At Blink, bedsides Gilad Drozdov and I as founders — we brought in two leaders from day one who have made a huge impact. Tsahi Mizrahi and Artyom Borzin are the company’s backbone, and they make a lot of the day-to-day decisions and keep things running smoothly.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Enduring companies are not one-trick ponies. Founders with a long-term vision will recognize that they need to make transitions and moves beyond a highly successful first act and be very flexible with their minds.
COVID-19 taught us that market preferences and regulations can change rapidly. What was once novel becomes a commodity over time. Think about the idea of working only from home. It’s been interesting to raise funds and conduct business development activities for a whole year through Zoom without meeting people.
To learn more about Oren and the company that he’s built, visit Blink’s website.