Prabalta Rijal

The secret behind a successful IT startup revealed

This is the era of unicorns with loads of successful tech companies mushrooming across the world and changing lives. We hear about sassy tech startups with incredible ideas that sell like hotcakes every day. But even then the studies on startup success tell a different story, According to Forbes magazine, 70 percent of upstart tech companies fail and 97 percent of consumer hardware startups ultimately die or turn into zombies. 

So, why do startups fail? Why is it so difficult to make a product work? Well, according to Amos Raber, a quality assurance expert from Israel, who has been working with IT startups for over 17 years, the main reason behind a startup not doing well, is its failure to meet customer requirements and solve their problems. “I feel that founders have ideas which they think are brilliant. They look brilliant on paper but in reality, they mostly fail to meet customer needs. I will never stand behind a product idea I cannot relate to; for me, it is important as a consumer that the product or service solves my problems,” said Raber, who has been responsible for the success of 80 percent of the startups he has worked with.

Founders have ideas which they think are brilliant. They look brilliant on paper but in reality, they mostly fail to meet customer needs.

Over the past decade or so, Raber has judged and mentored and invested in several startup companies like Datorama, which within a short span of time merged with Salesforce, one of the industry’s giants.  “The first thing I pay attention to when it comes to deciding if I want to work with the company or not, is if the founders are passionate about their idea or not,” said Raber. According to him, apart from a brilliant idea which serves customers well, there are several things that he takes into consideration before working with startups:

  • Are the founders passionate about their ideas?
  • Will the product solve the problem?
  • Does the idea click with me?
  • Can I be passionate about it?
  • Is the company customer-oriented?
  • Will they choose customers over products?

The quality assurance expert and software product developer was the main-mind behind the success of an IT startup called Eyeblaster, which he joined in 2002 as the quality assurance manager. “When I had joined the company, it had only 19 employees. However, after implementing the changes I suggested, its earnings rose from $3M annually to $60M, in the span of just 8 years.”

In 2010 the company re-branded itself as Mediamind, and a year later it was acquired by Texas-based DG FastChannel for $517M. “I have always loved working with startups because I believe in helping others,” he said.

Raber, who is rather modest about his achievements, thinks he has struck lucky, “I have worked hard but I have also been lucky,” he said before adding that luck comes to those who try and not to those who just sit and make a wish and do nothing about it.

While advising young entrepreneurs who want to start their own tech company, he said, “Figure out what people need, then work on it passionately. If you aren’t passionate about what you do you will surely fail.”


About the Author
Prabalta has done extensive reporting and handled desk teams at various levels of the media. She began her career in journalism as a volunteer at a government-run National English Daily, Rising Nepal. After working as a reporting volunteer for about a month, she was hired as a reporter for the tourism beat in 2006. By 2014, she was working with the Government daily as Desk Editor. In August 2014, she began working for the Norway Based Human Rights news portal The Oslo Times, where she worked as the Chief International Correspondent till 2018.
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