Neil Patel

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Aviv Leibovici took a different route than many of his peers. Yearning to have a real-world impact with his work, he dove into a big industry that has been begging for modernization. His venture, Buildots, has acquired funding from top-tier investors like TLV Partners, Future Energy Ventures, Maor Investments, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Company culture
  • The fundraising journey
  • Proving your business idea


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For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash. 

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

About Aviv Leibovici:

Aviv Leibovici works as a Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer at Buildots, which is a Database & File Management Software company with an estimated 80 employees and was founded in 2018.

They are part of the Product Development team within the Engineering & Technical Department, and their management level is C-Level. Aviv graduated from and is currently based in Chicago, United States.

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Connect with Aviv Leibovici:

Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have an entrepreneur entrepreneur that is joining us. You know, originally from startup nation. We’re gonna be talking about building scaling financing all of the good stuff that we like to hear. Especially on transforming you know something that has to do with our old and outdated industry and getting into an industry where you have no idea you know you have no experience nothing you haven’t done it before or no ties and there is also you know an environment that doesn’t really facilitate that because people are on something else but without further ado. Let’s welcome our guest today so that we can learn everything about it. So let’s welcome Abbi Levichi welcome to the show.

Aviv Leibovici: Hi and ah thanks for having me glad to be here and yeah, happy to speak about all those things and more.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally born there in Israel so give us a little of a walk through memory lane. How is life growing up there.

Aviv Leibovici: Well grew up in Israel. It’s ah it’s ah it’s a fantastic face in many many ways you know weather wise especially well except for the summer which is a pain in the Middle East but but pretty much a pretty standard childhood. But. In Israel like in Israel everybody. You know you you become 18 at some point and you do this thing where you join them. You know? Yeah the army your service. So. That’s where it pretty much starts.

Alejandro Cremades: And how did you get into computers you know before the army and before all this I mean what? what? what? What was that the that trigger to computers.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, that’s a good question. You know I don’t think I’ve been asked that almost ever. But I guess well both my parents come from the field so that surely had something to do with it and it just always interested me.

Alejandro Cremades: So in your case, you know you see when when you’re in Israel. You need to do the army and in this case, you did a program that combined training and education. You know all in 1 and you did that for 9 years I mean that’s ah, that’s a long time I mean. Typically it’s doesn’ it last that long is said les I mean did you were you liking it so much that you were like I’m going to just take it to a whole nother level or what? what? what was going on there I you.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, yeah, no, it’s actually no, no no standard service would be 3 years and it’s actually quite a crazy thing because they offer you this program if you’re you know if you’re accepted to it which is for your 3 years where you’re meant to serve. You’re not. Exactly serving. You’re more learning. You’re getting a university degree and you’re learning about technologies and you’re being trained and you’re you know they’re building your skills and and and leadership and presentation and and all sorts of things and you do that for 3 years but the deal is that you then. You know have a proper role for 6 years so if you think about it. You’re an 18 years old kid and you sign up to a program that is basically signing up for nine years. So you’re signing up for a duration that is 50% of your life. But at that point thus far. It’s quite a crazy thing. But I I don’t regret it.

Alejandro Cremades: And what what did you gain out of this program and obviously you met your co-founders Roy and and you care about the but what did you get out of out of this programming. What what were some of those lesson I’m sure that the ethic and the discipline was of the charts.

Aviv Leibovici: For a second.

Aviv Leibovici: Well, ah, yeah, many many things. First of all, there are many many israeli founders that have come from that program even though it’s not that big a program and I think that’s a lot to do with the sort of training that happens and the sort of people that are recruited and it’s meant to build. You know it’s meant to build people that can go then and lead technological efforts in you know in the israeli defense defense industry. So obviously that means that you need to understand technology and you need to understand leadership and you need to understand how you know to motivate people and need to understand how to manage and and as such. So that is very good prep for you know, starting a company but not just the skills and the the learning that you go through all of my best friends in this world are from that program as you said my two co-founders are from that program who also happen to be 2 of my best friends and it’s Ologist. You know it’s it’s it’s.

Alejandro Cremades: So when you meet your cofounders there I mean they they they stayed for a little bit longer. You know you got out you were doing your consulting your skiing. You know they good life. They good life. You know waiting for your cofounders to come out and yeah, yeah, yeah, so so I guess say.

Aviv Leibovici: Ah, very big part of my life.

Aviv Leibovici: Um, yeah, please be good life.

Alejandro Cremades: Ah, what point you know when you guys men and you guys were discussing There is it really clear that you guys are going to be doing something and that it was worth the wait for you to wait for them to come out and build something. So.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, well that’s actually that’s pretty crazy because we were good friends and we thought that we know how to you know, cooperate that we have completing personalities and we can cooperate together quite well and so I finished my service this was like 2016 I knew they still had a year but in any case I wanted I wanted to do my skiing time and I could consult remotely so I went off to live in France and the alps ski when you when there’s sun work when there’s not work by the hour as you say the good life I gotta tell you to this day. Obviously being a co-founder is quite the you know the stressful and the busy life and I have these days when I say man you were living in a ski resort what was wrong with that. You know what was the problem with that. but ah but then they actually came to visit me. Um, then in other friends you know for a week of skiing and Roy’s wife said you know gathers gathers the three of us in a room and says well come on. You know you’re doing it. You’re not actually saying it just say it and do it and then we’ll well yeah, okay, we’ll do it. Ah, so then I came back. We started just chatting because they were still in their roles and then towards the end of 2017. They finished their roles and we started you know started actually doing this looking into it.

Alejandro Cremades: So what was that process of looking into it. But what? what? what would it? What did that look like until you guys were like okay, let’s go.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, we didn’t know at first what the industry will be what the technology will be what the product will be. We didn’t know anything really we knew 2 things we knew it’s going to be the 3 of us together and we knew that we wanted it to be solving a very much real world problem. So we were looking into all sorts of Industries Healthcare Agriculture Automotive Transportation all sorts and we were basically the nice thing about being in Israel and from talpiot is that you can very easily. Speak to a lot of co-founders and we just went through meetings and meetings of you know learning from people’s experience. How did they go about starting their company. How did they go about deciding what they do, um, such a process and looking into things regularly and then suddenly at some point we got to construction. And sort of it started caught from there receiving a bit more focus.

Alejandro Cremades: But construction. You know it sounded like not the typical segment that someone would do there in Israel because I mean there in Israel is more like cybersecur and stuff like that construction. You know it’s a a little bit you know out of left field. So why. Did you guys have the fear of um, you know, maybe hey you know we don’t have like this crazy experience or maybe we’re not in the right type of environment or ecosystem to be able to build this.

Aviv Leibovici: Well I think we should have had it. We didn’t but you probably should have. Um, we again, we wanted this to be very much real world. You know and we thought we actually what happened is yakkiir a good friend of his from like from like yeah the age of 6 or something. Works for 1 of the biggest construction companies in Israel. He told us man you got to meet this guy who works with him. We met that guy and that guy just sat with us for an hour and told us why it is that we need to come to construction why that is the right thing to do why this industry. Has a lot of room for innovation. Why it wants innovation. Why it doesn’t have enough of it yet and the such and the such and we said okay, we’ll give it a go. We’ll give it two months and if in two months we don’t feel like it’s real. We will step back now. Obviously when you say that. That won’t necessarily happen when those two months come but later down the line. We found that? yes, we are the odd duck. You know we would get into once we already had an idea and you know we knew what we were doing. We knew what the product was going to be. We knew what the market was going to be well to an extent. And then we started meeting with investors and some of that experience was telling certain people. Oh we’re doing this thing in construction and they look at you and say construction seriously because it’s very you know, weird and unique.

Aviv Leibovici: We actually had 1 experience which was extreme obviously I won’t name the person but where we sat in a room with an investor and said said look I don’t know anything about construction and I’ve never had a construction tech company and honestly I won’t invest in you guys if you do construction deck. But if you say right now that you do cyber security. Without knowing what it is that he will do I will give you a seed round of $4000000 and now and you go figure out what you do with it.

Alejandro Cremades: Wow and I mean that’s ah, a really nice sweetener that’s like putting money on your face. Why didn’t you guys take that.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, because we didn’t want to do cyber security because we wanted it again. You know for me, it was all about seeing.

Alejandro Cremades: But what conviction I mean what conviction did you guys have to because I mean it it sounds you know like you get four million bucks in front of your face and you know I’m sure that you guys thought about that and and and and you had a thought process there or some type of conviction. You know that they it was just like a no-brainer to keep going I mean what? what was that.

Aviv Leibovici: It was never really about completely the money you know I’m and um, um, with I won’t see the here and and Lie. There’s there’s that’s an aspect of it but we wanted to do something that we feel. Um, we feel is right for us. We feel. Big We feel affects something that we can feel and see and changes processes in the real worldl of people We can really see and and relate with and we wanted it to be something along you know along those lines and be in in a more call it concrete excuse the pun.

Alejandro Cremades: So what? what on those two months that you guys gave yourselves to see if you could do something here or not what was the goal. What was the validation or the signaling that you were trying to to find or to look for to say okay I think that they will keep going.

Aviv Leibovici: Industry.

Aviv Leibovici: It was first mainly just understanding what this industry is you know we don’t have didn’t have at the time any background from this industry. We did not have any family ties in this industry or anything of the sort. It was about learning. Okay, what is a construction company. What is a construction project. What does it look like how does it operate so that we can understand if we find a problem that is a worth solving and b we know how to or hope we know how to solve so that was the 2 months we’re saying we’ll see if in two months we have a good idea in this industry did we really have the idea in two months no did we feel like we are really on the you know on the path to get it. Yes, so we stuck around.

Alejandro Cremades: So then tell us about that day where all of a sudden you are trying to go to sleep and you’re looking at the ceiling and you can’t because you know you’ve stroken gold. You know you finally found what you were looking for.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, yeah, it’s um, we were. We came here to London to a it’s called open doors the construction industry and in London arranges you can sign up online for guided tours of construction projects. It’s a very unique thing. It’s not meant for. Software people from Israel. It’s mormon for people who are considering to work on site or for people from the area but we signed up and we came and we were weird I remember 1 guy you know doing this tour asking everyone where they’re from what they are and we’re like we’re software people from Israel and he looks at us like shocked like. Okay, moving on. Um, and as we did that we also managed to get a couple of them to allow us to just sitting sit in on their meetings of the construction project like weekly ones and you’re sitting there and you’re seeing how they’re trying to. Discuss what needs to happen next week but they cannot agree on what has already happened up until now there are 4 people in the room. There are more. But anyway 4 people discussing and there are 4 different views of what has actually happened and what has not and for me coming from you know. The back day we came from we like how can you manage a project when you’re trying to plan next week but you don’t actually know what is already done so how can you plan? What’s gonna happen next week. It can’t be done you know and then you start discussing it with them and you walk around side with them and you understand just how difficult it is.

Aviv Leibovici: I will say impossible to really know fully truly what is done and you realize that this is a big issue and we need to solve that.

Alejandro Cremades: So obviously you know at that point build dots you know is born and you guys are off to the races. So I guess for the people that are listening to get it. What ended they up being the business model of build dots. How do you guys? How do you guys make money.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, yeah.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, so the tool is is simple and complex. You capture a video of the construction project. Our Ai will analyze that and will tell you what is done what is not done what is missing what is delayed what was done incorrectly everything you need to to you know. Information that you need to make decisions and to manage the process. We sell it to companies on a per project basis. So if they do 1 project with me. They do 5 they do 10 if they do 50 and it’s just um, a monthly you know software as a service subscription which they pay for and and that’s it. Typically or I’d say 90% of our customers are construction companies. So not say real estate developers or anything 1 else, but the actual construction company.

Alejandro Cremades: So So then going back to the Story. You know when you realize that you guys are into something you know now big and and and you see that you know you have the validation you know, especially you know after interacting with all of these you know industry people. What were the next steps that you decided to take because I mean obviously you needed to build this thing. You know that that cost money I mean what? what were the next steps that you guys decided to take to to really bring this to life.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, so obviously at that point you want to start this company and you say well. My first milestone is to get a seed investment and start building a company. So what do I need to do to get a seed investment and going back to what I said before construction is. Especially at the time was weird for investors especially in Israel you know most of them have never heard of a construction tech company. So we fought ourselves we need to have some level of showing that it can be done. We need to have some level of showing that the industry is interested in it. Those were the two pillars so we started building and yakkiir started building. You know the the the very first ai algorithms that we’ll be able to to do some of this um and at the same time we started interacting with construction companies so we were doing that in two ways one is. Whoever would let us you know, walk around with them or be with them and learn I actually had a I had a deal with ah what is called a construction superintendent has a different name in Israel. But anyway I would come in in the morning I bring coffee and pastries if anything needs to be carried during the day I carry it. And his side of the deal was that I get to walk around with him and I get to ask as many questions as I want so you’re doing things like that and of course we wanted to start approaching these companies and saying you know this is what we’re going to do and get to some level of.

Aviv Leibovici: You know, real validation from them that they’re interested and we wanted to you know, almost have them on board but we don’t have a product yet and we were actually you know we were building like pocs of that technology and doing captors ourselves and you know building like videos. With 0 obviously production budget because we weren’t even working we we didn’t have money. Yeah, so a 0 budget but we built quite embarrassing videos to be fair because we built them ourselves but they showed what this thing will be and how it will work and what it will do. And with that we started going to to companies and we got 2 of them onboard 2 very big construction companies here in the Uk like onboard to say yes, we’re seriously interested in this and we could allow then. And and 1 big company in Israel as well and we then could allow potential investors to speak to people from those companies and see that you know that’s a real thing.

Alejandro Cremades: So then you know obviously you know I could say everything becomes more real as days go by and you ended up you know raising money just for the people that are listening now you know to get an understanding of it. How much capital have you guys raised to date.

Aviv Leibovici: One hundred and six million dollars

Alejandro Cremades: My god I believe that’s a lot of millions and so um, so how how how was that journey of raising this money you know from the seat you know all the way to the latest round that you guys have done. You know what? what has been that experience going from one cycle to the next.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, well um, I’m sure we have entrepreneurs and I’m sure we have investors listening to this so they both sides would know that it’s a crazy ride. But you know we took the seed money in it was like about 3000000 late twenty eighteen started working on the product and we’re really just looking to get a first version of it and a couple of customers and that’s what we did and the very first customer started using this and paying for it like 2019 and we got a few more and some interest and discussions and then we raised another round which was about $11000000 this was actually just before covid like really a month or two before covid ah became a thing and covid hit and we started deploying all across the world. Really? um. Because it was all virtual anyway and started having a few projects in london in the states in elsewhere in europe in israel of course and then raise the next round if you’re getting some more traction and of course developing the product. Which was 30000000 more or less that would be ah satellite 2020 late 2021 mid mid 2020 or mid 2021 I’m losing track of thailines here. But one of those and.

Aviv Leibovici: And then continued and what we also did we we developed our you know the market but we also got one very big customer that I cannot really name but but but was a very big deal and that showed the potential that could be here because there are many possible. Such. Clients and therefore we raised another round which was late last not last year the year before so late um, late 2021 or beginning of 2022 which was the extra 60000000 which brings us to this total and here we are now.

Alejandro Cremades: So obviously to bring all those investors you know, trust needed to be present what does trust look like when he’s present and how do you work on building that with investors so that they you know, go over the edge and and and sign you a check.

Aviv Leibovici: It’s a good question I think we we treat investors and customers in much the same Way. You know it’s not about I’m not gonna tell you stories I got to do things that aren’t true and I’m gonna sell to you things that don’t I don’t have yet. I Going to say you dreams about this company that aren’t real I will tell you what my dreams about this company are but I will tell you that they are not you know reality yet and I think it’s just being a very real person and and I think people know relate to that and we allowed. Anything you want to speak to a customer you speak to a customer you want to speak to an employee you speak to an employee I mean it’s fine.

Alejandro Cremades: So then in that case you know too. You had to sell this investors on vision right? So when we think about the vision imagine you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of build us is fully real lives. What does that world look like.

Aviv Leibovici: Fully realized but I don’t think I’ve ever been on record saying what does it mean to be fully realized but let’s go um in a fully realized world construction Projects buildings are just built much quicker.

Alejandro Cremades: Fully realized first.

Aviv Leibovici: Much quicker I mean at least 30% less time if not 50 the costs are way down because there’s a lot of less waste of all sorts of kinds of time of effort of people’s time of a resource and that makes everything cost less. You know that makes apartments cost less that makes homes cost less this makes office spaces cost less everything um and very importantly, it’s a world in which construction companies make make real money because right now they’re making very very very tight margins and. It becomes an industry of a lot of stress and a lot of risk and I you know part of it is to make that risk a bit a bit lower.

Alejandro Cremades: Now talking about those construction companies. You know you guys literally are bringing innovation to a very outdated you know Space. You know an industry. How does it work to really you know pave the way be a trailblazer and most importantly. Educate people, educate people that have been used to a certain way of of doing things for so long where you know all of a sudden This is kind of like putting people outside of their comfort zones to to certain Degrees. So How do you go about? really. Getting that education getting people ramped up and in and and so that you guys can continue to grow right.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah I think you know going back to that guy that we sat with until this construction construction come to construction it needs it. He promised that the construction industry is looking for it and years after now I can say that he was right because the. The people in this world who most feel that the challenge of construction is unbelievable and that something needs to change is the construction people now. Yes, construction has been managed the same way for 50 years but they know far better than I do that. It’s extremely difficult. It’s difficult to get a good result. It’s difficult for them Personally, It’s a very stressful life to be managing on site on construction site and they know all this and I think they are They are very very very down to earth and they have very real problems and a lot of stress. So if you come with something that isn’t accurate. Will kick you out the door. But if you come with something that they can see will have true value for them for their company for them Personally all of it then they completely hug you and then yeah you need, but but you need to do that work of showing them that it’s a real thing. You know and that’s a marketing challenge. That’s a sales challenge. That’s a customer success Challenge. It’s all of it. But if you do that? Well and they and you succeed to send them the right message and explain what you’re really trying to do they embrace it.

Alejandro Cremades: So for the people that are listening. You know to get an idea on their scope and size. You know what do you feel comfortable sharing mean how how big is the company in terms of maybe like number of employees or anything else that you feel comfortable sharing. Okay.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, the company is of about 150 employees give a give or take um it’s the main office is in Tel Aviv that’s where about a hundred of the employees are based. We then have an office here in London of around 30 people. And others spread so we have people in the us we have people ah a few in Germany things like that.

Alejandro Cremades: So what does culture look like when you have people spread all over the world. Yeah.

Aviv Leibovici: Yeah, it’s a difficult one. It’s a difficult one you have people spread over time zones and you have people spread over cultures. There’s ah, there’s a funny, funny little slide I think it’s from Intel or somewhere where ah the american side explains to people. You know what israeli is are going to be like and why it’s it’s a different culture so it it requires a lot of work integrating. You know that requires a lot of work. We made mistakes at first like I say you know we were a company full of israeli people and started hiring people elsewhere and we. We didn’t necessarily do that ideally, first. But I think that right now it’s working very well and somehow we have Israelis working in London yeah, myself included we have british and american people working in telviv we have an israeli in New York so we kind of have people over from all sorts of backgrounds and it’s working quite well.

Alejandro Cremades: Now I Guess you know we’re talking about the you know, future earlier and I want to talk about now the past but doing so with a lens of reflection if I was to bring you into a time machine back in time and I bring you back in time. Perhaps that moment that you’re in a ski resource just enjoying you know, living your best life and you’re wondering at that point you know why you’re waiting for your cofounders. You know what kind of company. You know you guys were going to be building but you have the opportunity of all of us sudden than just sitting down right next to you right there and they. Being able and giving yourself the chance of giving that younger self that younger Abib one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.

Aviv Leibovici: Ah, it’s a good one I’ll tell you this our very first investor our very first board member told us the 3 of us that if we don’t have 20% of our time that we don’t know what to do with that is a problem.

Aviv Leibovici: And he said that because he said you are this company and you need to have time you know to think about things to think about the real issues to to digest and to to think about the big picture and what needs to change. Not just do do do and I think that was the best. I mean the most important thing I did not implement. It. Let’s be fair. Okay I was and am still extremely busy. But I think I’m better at it today than I was at the time and I think I think it means that it took me longer than I would have wanted to you know, identify certain things I think ah this needs to change. And if I had more breathing space that would have been better and of course that comes hand in hand with hiring everybody knows it everybody says it but I will say it to hiring the right people is just so much more important than anything else.

Alejandro Cremades: Wow That is so profound and so powerful avib I Actually love that now for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.

Aviv Leibovici: Well bill.dotcom is 1 option emailing a vi a vive avi v atbu dot dot com is another I’m happy to to chat to or basically anyone what interesting things. How.

Alejandro Cremades: Easy enough aviv well hey, well thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us.

Aviv Leibovici: Thank you! It has been an honor to be here.

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