A CEO in need is a CEO indeed: Echoes from the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival

This week was the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival , named by the Economist “The most influential tech conference in Europe”. I was able to meet with Founders and Top managers of startups and companies in various fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Internet of Things, Fintech, etc. Not only did I try amazingly cool gizmos but I also got a few minutes to let them open up and express their demands and aspirations.

This transcript is a mash up of these interviews


Why are you here ?

I am here because it is the place to be. I can present my product, demo my prototype, network with VCs, talk to incubators ,meet foreign delegations. My company is part of this ecosystem and therefore I need to be here.

Most importantly we came here to do business development. For me as a CEO there are few key goals: meet business partners, be they distributors for our solution or suppliers from abroad or investors to help us expand. We are looking to make connections.

How is that working out so far ?

It’s pretty good. Conferences such as this one have their pros and cons. They allow a concentration of key players, a kind of one stop shopping. But as it is spread over a limited amount of time, it’s quite hectic and it is tough to have meaningful conversations. Most of the time it is a business card swapping race, a calendar juggling feat to schedule follow up calls or meetings and a promise to catch up soon. It is a pity because especially with foreign partners we lose the face to face time which is crucial to evaluate the person you might do business with. Also not everyone can make it on that specific week, so I know there might be someone crucial for my expansion that is not here today. You have to also realize that attending one conference is not enough. I need to plan at least 5 or 6 a year to get significant feedback and find the right opportunity or partner. This is not a cheap process.

What do you look for in a business partner ?

Essentially I look for someone I can trust. Ideally myself , from another country. I want someone that is not going to make me lose time, that is my equivalent  -can understand the problematics I am facing-and that won’t back off, disappear or underperform when it’s time to get things done.

Trust not only in the person but in the company. When I look for a supplier or a distributor, someone that will help me penetrate a new market, region or country, I want to make sure I am not betting on the wrong horse. Are they really that well connected, can they really work so well the channels of distributions, do they really have access to the best raw materials, workforce etc..?

How can you make sure of that at a Conference ?

This is one of the biggest limits of any conferences. For everything that is local, it is very easy for me to do quick efficient background checks. Israel is a highly connected place , everyone pretty much knows each other in the Startup Nation. It becomes tricky when I want to develop my business internationally. All the foreign delegations here have great startup development program but how can I check the people I am introduced to? Am I gambling with my company ? It s a high risk, one that I am certainly not willing to take with something that I worked day and night to develop. It wouldn’t be fair to my partners, my employees. Even my banker would kill me.

What if told you that while you can still keep going to events,fairs and conferences, there is also a platform where all members are invited by their respective banks which assures you that they have been KYCed and that their businesses are reliable and strong, and that you can post your opportunities anonymously and connect privately and that the access to this platform costs you less yearly than what you pay for only one conference ?

Unanimous answer: Then just show us where to sign….

About the Author
After seven years in investment banking (London, NYC and Tel Aviv), Nicolas Pocard launched three companies and is now the Head of Business Development for Israel for Opportunity Network an exclusive online networking platform for CEOs around the world who want to grow their business locally and internationally.