Todays's interview is with Michel Abadi, Managing partner at Maverick Ventures. Prior to joining Maverick at inception, Michel was the Global Head of Product Development at Gems Fund of Funds, which at its peak managed over US$7.5 billion, for over a decade. From 1995 up to 1999, Michel was a portfolio manager for local and off-shore Brazilian hedge funds totaling US$ 1.5 Billion at Banco Patrimonio, a Salomon Brothers joint-venture in Brazil. Michel became Head of Products for the Local Private Bank after its sale to Chase Manhattan Bank, and soon after, J.P. Morgan. In this function Michel was responsible for the designing, structuring and implementation of local fund of hedge funds worth US$ 1 Billion, as well as for an advisory desk for local markets, trading currencies and creating structured trades. Michel holds a Production Engineering degree from the University of Sao Paulo, and a Master of Business Administration conferred jointly by Kellogg School of Management and Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration. Michel is also the Chairman of Aish TLV, which bridges the gap between religious and non-religious young leaders. He is also the Chairman of Beit Brasil, which helps brazilian Olim in their first year in Israel.
Read the interview below; to learn more about Maverick Ventures, click here.
|Michel Abadi (on the right) and Maverick's founder Yaron Carni in the Western Wall, Jerusalem|
What is Maverick's story? How did everything begin?
Maverick started as both myself and Yaron Carni my partner met for the first time in a Torah class in Tel Aviv. We were both at career turning points, and we discovered that we had the same goals and very complementary skills, and then we started to explore the possibility of joining forces to get there. From that point, it took some time to get the strategy right, the economics, and soon we hit the road for the fundraising. It's never easy, but we made it and are now already two years and a half into investing the Fund and with 10 very amazing companies in the portfolio.
What does a day in Maverick look like?
In a typical day, we meet two/three companies pitching their ideas to us, and then we spend one or two hours with some of our portfolio companies helping them either with Strategy, Hiring, Biz Deving or introducing them to potential investors for their next investment round. Lastly, we also spend some time researching themes that are connected to companies that we own or fields that we see ourselves getting involved with.
For you what are the most attractive types of investments? What is Maverick looking for in the moment?
In our business, there is no recipe, as it is not an exact science. It's all about the team, the idea, the click, the incentives, the timing, the sustainable technological edge, the potential market, the creativity, and a lot of pure luck...
What differentiates Israeli entrepreneurs from other entrepreneurs around the world?
I have a theory, not proven yet. I think that the Israelis are, in general, so bad in marketing their company that the good ones compensate that with a lot of creativity and a real strong technology behind the scenes. As such, even with the obstacles that end up existing, the backbone is so great and creates such a demand for the product that in the end they reach the golden path. In other places, as much as I have seen, the emphasis is usually more on the go to market strategy, network effect or business model creativity and less on the tech itself, which comes naturally as in these places the human factor is string exactly in those areas and less on the technical side. As such, since I see these complementary skills, one strategy that we are trying is to take the best of both worlds and combine wisely the good tech backbone from Israel with savvy entrepreneurial business models from abroad. Let's see the results in the coming years...
In your opinion what is the strongest factor that makes Israel the Startup Nation?
If I had to choose one factor only, I would say that is the experience that these geeks acquire in the tech units in the army. There is no parallel to that in the real world, to be given such huge budgets and responsibility in such a young age and be able to experiment - without failing - fears is something truly outstanding that these youngsters get the opportunity to live through, and it gives them tools and experiences that nobody else has.
What are the advantages of being an investor in Israel? And the disadvantages?
The main advantage is the more realistic valuations that companies usually go for here. The second best advantage is that companies are born already with an international mindset, which facilitates a lot the strategic discussions and developments. There are many others like the strong legal system, the relatively small community that facilitates all the personal checks, and especially that all the eyes in the world in our space are looking into what happens here. The main disadvantages are related to the Israeli physche and infamous business behaviour, which in our case translates in the usual over negotiation of investment rounds and distribution agreements and these sorts of things. But there are ways to overcome that too.
What do you miss most about Brazil?
Mostly the good typical food (pão de queijo, água de côco e requeijão)...rsrs. Seriously, I miss the good friends and the very dynamic financial markets where I was bred. You don't find those almost anywhere else.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I would love to be managing Maverick's 5th VC fund, and hopefully a little bigger than our current fund, but not too much, as I don't want to change the essence of our investment strategy (although I am surely open for innovation!!!).
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