I stood at home the size of a 9-year-old when I was a child, not giving in an inch while arguing with my older brother. We shared a fascination with technology, but we didn’t share much that day. We both wanted to have the latest device in our hands.
My brother and I shouted back and forth. Finally my parents entered. They gave both of us CorelDRAW, the latest graphic design program that we quickly installed on Windows 95. There was an extensive manual that showed all kinds of designs you could create. At the time, in a pre-Photoshop world, it felt like magic.
We absolutely fell in love with design. We studied the manual day and night, sharpened our English skills and decided to make money from our new passion. It didn’t take long for us to create sticker designs that we sold to schoolmates.
I later worked in the elite visual intelligence unit of the Israel Defense Forces and founded two successful cybersecurity companies. My brother is now a successful interior designer who shares his love of design and creates beautiful things.
We agree that our experience selling stickers as kids taught us some valuable entrepreneurship lessons that we both employ today.
1. Your passion and your unique skills are your differentiator
When I was 9 I needed pocket money. So I did what I did best, and that’s what I liked best: design.
It was a natural evolution. Our mother was a former graphic designer, and I’ve worked on computers and tinkered with a Compaq Deskpro 386 since I was six. I found that creating different types of stickers was both satisfying and lucrative thanks to my unique design skills.
When I co-founded my first company, I had the same overwhelming sense of exhilaration that I had when I was 9. I still cultivated my passion for design, but I also had a new passion, supported by the unique skills and expertise I had acquired from my time in the military.
Basically, by developing my passion for cybersecurity, I’ve been able to do what I love, make money, and make the world a safer place.
Pursuing your passion will keep you going through difficult times. Your unique skills and experience enable you to identify customer needs and wants and meet them in ways that others cannot. This combination of motivation and willingness is essential for serial entrepreneurs, especially in an uncertain business environment.
2. Experience is invaluable, but embrace learning on the fly
I am grateful for a childhood where I was encouraged to dream big and had access to the tools that could help me develop advanced skills. CorelDRAW was complicated to use at first, but I learned and practiced my design skills day and night.
When I started selling stickers I had a good background in design but learned some practical lessons related to monetization and selling.
When I turned to cybersecurity, I had years of experience in the school, military, and business sectors. I was better prepared for the challenges of a startup, but as an entrepreneur you never stop learning.
My design skills enabled me to get my hands on the product we developed with co-founder Amit Bareket in the first few months. Through this process, I improved my coding skills while traveling, much like I acquired new skills as a sticker seller based at my school. Only this time I was selling subscriptions to users all over the world.
3. Feel the love, lose the fear
Perhaps the most important lesson I learned at the age of 9 was not to fear failure. If you do something you love, do it responsibly, and make an effort, you can make your dream a reality. Nothing can stop you.
As a serial entrepreneur who was almost three decades away from our sticker startup, that feeling gave me the tailwind to deal with many storms.
The real world experience can sometimes disconnect you from the inspiration you started with. But I can honestly say that I get the same joy in design, from graphics to products, as I did when I was selling stickers.
Because of this creative passion, I can help develop products that offer a simple and seamless user experience and user interface. Designing new initiatives or projects is a daily routine these days so my creativity can take me and our company to a place where we may not have realized we need to go.
If you are an entrepreneur with passion, skills, and ideas, and you can effectively listen to and add value to customers, you create a similar self-nurturing path to startup success.
Even if that means an occasional argument with your brother.