Tackling the obstacles one by one
To give this a fair chance, I knew I’ll have to tackle as many of these as possible. A few of these are easier than others. SOOMLA was already registered in Delaware to begin with so that wasn’t an issue. With the 4 years I spent in Boston I have a pretty good accent in American English and a decent amount of American Culture to carry a small talk. Still, that’s not even remotely enough. I had a strong feeling that if I’m serious about breaking the myth I will need to actually shift my base to the U.S. for a few months. I wanted to be able to tell investors: “I can meet you later this week” rather than “I need to check when is the next time I’m coming to the U.S.
Temporary location change to improve fundraising chances
The idea to shift my location to NYC for a few months was something I picked up from an acceleration program called UpWestLabs. Gil, the co-founder of the program explained to me that as part of the program the companies have to move to the valley which gives them better chances at fundraising. While the program wasn’t a good fit for SOOMLA. I decided to try and use the concept of shifting my location.
So there I was, in NY for 3 weeks, TLV for 1 week, NY for 3 weeks and so on. Mobile number with a local area code. Shirt tucked in my pants in a way no Israeli will wear in Tel Aviv. I was ready to go.
Finding my competitive edge
When all other things are equal, it was clear that an investor will have a preference towards the local opportunities. I knew I had to find the places where I had a clear advantage. Most investors believe that good investments happen when they have access to information that others don’t or when they can see opportunities that others don’t. An ability to pick winners from Israel falls into the category of spotting opportunities using inside information. This is a skill that some investors believe they have and that is where I should focus my efforts. How to find these guys? Some of them list Israel as a market on Angellist, others served at boards of Israeli companies and their portfolio can also serve as an indication. Either way, the best way to find them is through other Israeli entrepreneurs.
Getting warm intros and being part of the investors network
Investors will not set up meetings with you unless you are being introduced by someone they trust. This was already established by Paul Graham and many others (here is a link to PG’s post). You need to find entrepreneurs that like you and what you do enough to give you intros. Don’t ask them for intros. Ask for advice.
Getting in front of investors is only the first step. In order for an investor to commit, he needs to have multiple reference points about you and your background. Investor went to the same school as you – you earned a point. He knows someone in a company you worked for – that’s another point. I had none of that so I needed as many of the “we both know the same people” points I can get. I needed a network.