In the latest episode of the Dealmakers’ Podcast, Eylon Etshtein, a visionary entrepreneur, shares his remarkable journey from army service to founding successful tech companies. Eylon’s story is a testament to the power of persistence, innovation, and a relentless pursuit of what truly interests you.
His latest venture, Perfect, has raised funding worth $13M from top-tier investors like Provident Trust Group, Firestreak Ventures, Young Sohn, and Snap.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Army service provided the structure and discipline needed to be a cornerstone of success
- A journey that highlights the power of pursuing what truly interests you, as opposed to following conventional paths
- The army taught the value of recognition, instilling in the belief of being able to achieve extraordinary things.
- Unwavering persistence through challenging times ultimately led to the success of ventures.
- Experiences underscore the importance of adapting to market realities and refining strategies for success.
- A stark reminder of the impact external forces, like media pressure, can have on a startup’s trajectory.
- The latest venture, Perfect, exemplifies how innovation in AI can revolutionize industries, solving fundamental challenges in recruitment.
For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here).
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About Eylon Etshtein:
Eylon Etchtein is an entrepreneur who focuses on founding internet companies. He has founded several companies, including AnyVision, Emka Digital, and Puzzle Interactive.
He is CEO of AnyVision and acted as CTO of Emka Digital and Puzzle Interactive. He graduated from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. His latest venture is Perfect.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: All righty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a really exciting founder I mean he’s done it so many times that I get disy you know with say how many companies he’s done but they we’re going to find you know quite inspired. We’re going to be talking about culture. We’re going to be talking about consistency also about fundraising and why it’s. It’s own art. There’s not nothing there that really teaches you I guess you know until we listen to this episode you know to what our guest is going to tell us about it and then also about force maure. But again you know building scaling financing and all of the above that we like to hear so we like without further ado. Let’s welcome. Our guest today. Alon Edstain edtain welcome to the show. So originally born in Israel anyway, startup nation give us a walkth through memory lane. How is life growing up there.
Eylon Etshtein: Thank you Alicandra. It’s a pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.
Eylon Etshtein: It’s ah it’s really nice. The food is really fresh and you need to go to the army but beside that it’s really nice sometimes the neighbors don’t doesn’t like us too much, but it’s It’s okay.
Alejandro Cremades: So what happened with you in high school.
Eylon Etshtein: I I don’t know I was preferring to build website and play soccer instead of going to school I don’t know the the teachers were teaching unnecessary stuff at least for me.
Alejandro Cremades: So then you you ended up paying out finishing high school.
Eylon Etshtein: Yeah in in in Israel they do like 12 years and I did 10 ah and the last two years it was more me in the sea me deejaying me doing projects and websites and now let’s go into school. And my mother was really not happy about it by the way. But.
Alejandro Cremades: It it sounds like fun it sounds like fun now now your case you ended up going to the army and team. You know the army obviously is mandatory there in Israel and there you were in the infantry unit. So I’m sure that this brought a little bit of discipline because from being in the. You know at the beach you know deejaying to then all of a sudden you know having to follow or there’s some instructions I’m sure that was quite a humbling for you.
Eylon Etshtein: Yeah I think I was always looking for some structure in my life. Some discipline that grew up without a father. My parents was divorced when I was like 2 years old. My mother was a very successful cmo. So. I think the army was for me like um, you know and hand a hand and a glove in a way. Um, and in the army you you discover a lot of things about yourself. Basically you know, um, you have your teammates. You have your commanders and it’s like but it from 1 hand give you a very structure formation but on the other hand you have a lot of time where you need to execute by yourself in a way. Ah, depending where you go and I think for me, it was really good I mean I really enjoyed army I even went to officer course and it was really good for me I really enjoyed that time in my life I still claim. It was one of my the best periods in my life.
Alejandro Cremades: So what do you say when when you said earlier, you discover a lot about yourself. What did you discover about yourself.
Eylon Etshtein: I Think up until the Army I didn’t had a recognition from let’s say the outside world that I’m good in something and I think something that really been built in you especially in commander units. Is that you’re special. You’re Unique. You’re above the average. Ah you get wings. You get this, You know like all the the shiny things on your chest and it’s give you something Also after the military where you think you feel and you know by the way. Also. You know to handle things in a more under pressure. Um, than most people in a way.
Alejandro Cremades: Now after the army. Basically what you did is say you did a bunch of stuff but eventually you know that led you to university to the mit ah there equivalent in Israel. And you were looking too much through the window. It sounds like you’re not excited. You know too excited there but they looking through the window ended up landing you with having a tough conversation with your mother. What? what what? What happened there.
Eylon Etshtein: Told you too much before the interview. Ah I think it’s something that symbol a lot of entrepreneurs. We have obsession and we are only good or sometimes even very good. Only in things that really interest us and I think for me the army was very interested. Um, school was not and when I went to the technon which is kind of ah like the same like mit in the us in Israel um, it was really boring I mean they teach you physics they teach you all kind of things. And in the night I was coding and parties and um I was like um, you know, um, like being a party organizer like ah was the biggest party organizer in my hometown and you know it’s like.
Alejandro Cremades: I.
Eylon Etshtein: I Think it’s something really a skill that and tepaur really have it’s about if it’s interest us we will go all in if it’s not we will be. You know it’s it’s it’s it’s not for us.
Alejandro Cremades: So then in your case I mean this was the um, the segment that really brought you into the venture world. So tell us about you know, getting to startups. You know how did that happen.
Eylon Etshtein: In a way. It’s happened my mistake to be completely honest I think it’s just the course of my life led me towards there I really wanted to build things the tool that I had was coding and designing and. You know, probably in in the in the old days. Um, you know that was the people that I don’t know like harvesting and things like this but in the modern age we are. It’s about building projects like websites and apps and things like this and that’s our that’s how I was. Ah, able to to bring myself into into basically creating things through coding and building apps and I started like um this ah this small agency and this agency was you know like. Um, Facebook just started with their fbml. It was like you know you could build apps inside Facebook and it was a big trend to make it for businesses and the business went quite well for a young you know a young grownup trying to you know to find his way and. After a while. um um I had this partner and and then we we split it and um I got I started I started to get some offers and at the end I find myself going into this larger company.
Eylon Etshtein: Ah, big operation for me as well and starting to do to to be working with them as a Ceo in some in one of their um subcompanies so was it was basically based on instinct and kind of a mistake and based on the skills that.
Alejandro Cremades: So just.
Eylon Etshtein: Let me help help me to create things and at the end I find myself there.
Alejandro Cremades: Now with this first company that you did that was puzzle interactive. You know, basically as as you as you were saying you know you you got really involved with the social networks with Facebook you know and doing stuff for it and in the end you know, ended up being bought by a larger corporation. So I guess the um. The question that comes to mind. There is what kind of disability did that give you into the full ah lifecycle of a company you know where you were able to do it from the idea all the way up to the finish line where you know you finally you know hand the reins to ah. Larger player I mean what? what kind of disability did that give you.
Eylon Etshtein: I Think you yeah back then I I started to understood the power of creation I mean once you work hard you create something at the end. It will have kind of a value in like like value or like a currency into it. Um, and and and then that basically it and and then you you know you started the next journey and you learn a lot of new things right? So It’s like yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: Now for you the next thing the next new thing was emka digital I was your your next company. So what were you guys doing there. How do you line there I mean you were the Ceo there.
Eylon Etshtein: Yeah, so that was ah like a very large industrial group here in Israel um, and I was like the youngest by 20 years from anyone in in the floor. Um, and it was a great experience because it’s so like.
Eylon Etshtein: Real business people. Not tech people doing business negotiating was a great school for me.
Alejandro Cremades: So at what point with mka didal. Do you decide. It’s time to turn page because I mean in this case, you know you’re a company to I mean you were a cofounder there and you were there for almost three years so at what point that’s it you know come. To you that thought that hey maybe it’s time to turn page here.
Eylon Etshtein: So I think after 3 years I wanted to do something more global because back then we were like kind of an incubator for doing mini startups for the group portfolio meaning like a large brand from Israel can come and we can fit to him with a startup or a project. Um, and I wanted to do something global and I came to my partners over there and they didn’t want to do anything outside of Israel or something global. Ah they wanted to continue and um, you know, bringing the the group businesses and enriching those. Um. And then that’s the that’s the date that I decided that I’m I’m stepping aside and I’m like leaving the company. Um, and yeah, and and I left.
Alejandro Cremades: And you left and you started another one so innovation innovation actually 1 of ah 1 of the most one of them. You know a people tell moments that you had in your career. No I mean a really successful company a company that. You actually were there. You know for quite a bit you know close to 7 years so how did the idea of innovation come to come to fruition you know and how did the ah that the band come together as the founding team to really execute on this.
Eylon Etshtein: Um, um, think it was around 2015 and deep learning and gpu outside of gaming just started and.
Eylon Etshtein: Understood It’s it’s going to be like the next thing it was very clear that you know once you go outside the world of cpu into Gpu you have like multiply more of of computation power and. And yeah, and and then it’s like you know I scouted the the vertical and in industries it’s going to be effect in and I discovered that facial recognition going to be a very very big part of it. Um, it’s even before face a D and all those facial recognition applications started in all those devices right? It was like um and we start and and then I started the project.
Alejandro Cremades: So then what was the what ended up being the business model. How were you guys making money with innovation.
Eylon Etshtein: So the first two years we’re not making money. We’re not even getting salaries. It was really hard times. Um, not a joke but I was like um, eating food worth than I was eating in the army. Um. Think one day one of my friends came to my apartment and he went to the second floor and he told me it looks like a landmine because there’s only like pizza and like things on the on the floor. It was looking horrible and I was looking like ah like like someone like um, you know with a very big beard and like um.
Eylon Etshtein: Yeah, it it was a very very dark period in my life and um and a lot of terrible moments where you think it’s all done and this company not going to be what it’s going to be um, but um.
Eylon Etshtein: To your point about consistent. Um I’ve been very consistent and persistent and they keep and believing and I keep on selling and I keep on developing and in and the end we manage to get like. Some seed funding and later on major sid funding and then the rest become a history.
Alejandro Cremades: And and how are you guys making money with innovation for the people that are listening to get it.
Eylon Etshtein: Um, ah sorry I’m making money not raisingising money. Um.
Alejandro Cremades: Well, it’s both both things say you got you got to make it to then raise it and they always say you gotta do something of value to extract value. So in this case, what were you guys doing a value to extract it. How were you guys doing that.
Eylon Etshtein: So um, we it’s exploration right? So go to market pricing product. It’s it’s a lot of instinct but also a very large portion of tri and arrow and exploration. So. We started with this and the company that the period in time that I’m now speaking about we were like already 35 employees and we go into the market and we start selling it and we’re charging like seven thousand us dollars per license which is per camera. And the market was not well receptive for that and then you start to have like a pushback from the market about what the price should be right because everybody wants to make like from the first deal like a million dollar but it doesn’t work like this and then you get pushbacks and you start to understand the pricing should be around. 4500 something like that and you should bundle it and you should do all those things and and then you start to be structured about your price and then you understand what your price should be and also what the verticals you need to be selling your product in. Because in the beginning for example and this is like a nice story everybody in their dreams because of all the gems bond movies. We all believe that facial recognition cameras are like should be in airports right? I will tell you a small surprise most airports doesn’t have a lot of facial recognition. Um.
Eylon Etshtein: Other verticals have um and and we thought that this is going to be a huge vertical for us and again we start trialing other verticals like retail and casino and Smart City and Airports and all kinds gambling and all kinds of things like this and then we discover a sweet spot. Where the verticles that we need to be sending in what the price we need to be sending in what they go to market the right one should we go with the partner should we go alone, etc, etc.
Alejandro Cremades: So so in this case I mean with innovation you know the company ended up being quite successful. I mean it has raised over 350000000 which is a really remarkable I guess 1 thing that that I that I like to ask you here. You know about innovation is. You know, tell us about the go to market you know instincts there that you guys had for really making it happen the way that you did.
Eylon Etshtein: It’s funny to look in it today with all the frameworks and all the like li about how to do go to market and everything we’re doing it very instinctive. We were very young. Um I was like set at Twenty seven Twenty eight when I started ah any vision today I’m 36 so I was like really I didn’t know a lot right? Not me and not the team or all like first timers doing it like in that scale for the first time. Ah, we had some decent investors that help us in growing up faster but still, it’s you need to try an error and.
Eylon Etshtein: You know it’s It’s um, there’s not like a magic trick for it to be honest, it’s like all of the above in a way if you if you get what I’m saying. Yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: Now now one of the things that they really came up while you were at any vision was the idea of the next one site x so so tell us how did this happen because I mean obviously you were in any innovation. Incredible success rocket ship. So. Why did you think you know that taking that distraction made sense at that point.
Eylon Etshtein: So it’s deeper than that. It’s actually what happened is around 2019 um, any vision being unfortunately followed by Bds which is an organization that tried to bioket. Um, israeli startups company technologies. Um, it’s kind of ah you know people that less like Israel let’s call it and Microsoft was one of our shareholders a major 1 um, you know I have photos with. Satya like this hugging and like um and talking about the go-tomarke and things like this and this group of of I don’t know how to call them beside modern terrorist. But sorry for my language and they started to demonstrate outside of Redmond and outside of. Microsoft biggest news shop in Oxford and they they they put a lot of pressure on Microsoft um, that at the end even though we didn’t do anything wrong. Um to basically do a divation from ah from any vision. Um, and that was like for me it was something really hurtful because the company had tremendous term sheets and tremendous offers from the biggest like ah vs of the world and unfortunately.
Eylon Etshtein: Um, these bad fellas actually managed to to hurt us and it’s it’s it’s it’s a big shame I mean it’s something that um I don’t think a lot of companies anticipate them to being biocat by you know, a group of anti-governmental. Um, you know. Ah, modern terrorist or how you call them but it was for me like I didn’t thought that something like this can happen in 2019 that a very ethical organization like Microsoft will the they they do his divation from startup. He invested a lot of money. Um, because of pressure. But ah, it’s it’s a lesson I learned that media have its weight. Um and you need to to also be you know and and by the way and not always the truth and what is right will will win. Unfortunately. And then we had to spin out our defense business because of this pressure and we spin it out and we created the site ticks we created it with the largest defense contractor from Israel which is Rafael it’s state owned. And sightis today is kicking ass doing a good job protecting the world.
Alejandro Cremades: I mean 20 plus million dollar raise there. So so good stuff now in your case you know it sounds like 3 years is really what it takes for you to ah to get antsy. Yeah about doing something. Yeah I mean in this in this case, 3 years in about June 2021 that’s when it was the perfect time to start a company called perfect. Why was that the case.
Eylon Etshtein: So and 2021 after all this experience in any vision which was amazing roller coaster ups and down I saw it like in probably the highest levels of of scale. Um, obviously I did my my. Fair amount of mistakes as the annual entrepreneur. Um, but 1 thing I saw is when you scale organization from 0 to almost five hundred employees is that the problem of recruiting your best next hire is still not solved and the data is out there. And obviously very advanced large language models and gen ai is here to to help us with that ah to analyze and and bring insights and I decided to start perfect to solve this problem this time. Um, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last two years
Alejandro Cremades: And how do you guys make money with perfect.
Eylon Etshtein: So perfect is something dramatically different from any vision and anyvision is a classic enterprise sales. It’s a go to market sometimes with partners. It’s like you know nine twelve months sales cycle very high acv sometimes millions of dollar um in perfectfect it’s more you know there’s all those methods today but plg product like growth pls product lead sales and etc etc. So we decided to take a direction. We take. We took the direction of pls to be very transe transactional. Ah, which means that the sales cycles should be very short around the month a month and a half um and basically um the acv is is relatively low on the land deal. And um, I find it really interesting this type of a go to market. It’s it’s nice.
Alejandro Cremades: So then with a perfect you know you guys have raised him quite a bit of money there. Um, how much have you guys raised so far and why did you decide to raise the money from the people that you did from because obviously this is not your first rod and now you know quite a bit on.
Eylon Etshtein: We raised $13000000
Alejandro Cremades: On dealing with investors. Why did you choose the investors that you did.
Eylon Etshtein: I did hear I did had my fair amount of bad investors. Um, and it’s educated me and taught me a lot and in this journey I try to take only people that I know people that I Trust. Um. Half of the investors are investor that invested me in the past. So Um I try at least in the seed stage to have people that they can trust and rely on.
Alejandro Cremades: Now I’ve heard you say that fundraising you know it’s an art of its own. Why is that the case.
Eylon Etshtein: Um, ah fundraising is a mix between storytelling being illusion like you know dreaming. Um.
Eylon Etshtein: Telling the truth and talking about the future and the presence. It’s kind of a mix of everything I think and to get a seed round. Um today in Israel. Um, it’s not easy. Um I think it’s driven relevant in in also like in the us and other territories. It’s not easy because it’s really hard to stand above the noise why you because when you’re a first timer nobody knows who you are you don’t have any network. Ah, unless you came from this unique department agency. Whatever it is. It’s really hard to stand above the noise and get the first the the first walk and let’s assume you get the first check. Um, then how you get the second check and it’s like.
Alejandro Cremades: Um.
Eylon Etshtein: And a time clock right? It’s like it’s it’s um, it’s like once you get your first check you need to do everything right to get the second check and you don’t have enough time to do mistakes so it’s by the way even today I don’t think I do it perfectly perfectly. But um, you know we keep on keep on learning from from the journey of life.
Alejandro Cremades: And obviously you know when it comes to investor Vision. You know like you were saying storytelling you know, but bringing them into really getting excited and and touch moved on inspired about the vision that you are and the future that you’re living into you know it is pretty important so in that regard imagine if you were to go to sleep tonight Elon And. You wake up in a world where the vision of perfect is perfectly realized what does that world look like.
Eylon Etshtein: It’s ah it’s a good question. Um, it’s a world where a I empower us humans to focus on what us humans What we do best which is being creative being relationship driven. Um, and all the hard. The hard labor ah tasks. Let’s call them like the tests that you do manual and you keep on doing them repeatable being done by machines. Um, so in a perfect world. Um, sourcing is basically almost automated. Which means people that you want for your company automatically will pop stop and also almost automatically you will be reaching out to them. Um, and then it’s the human factor to actually convince them and sign them. Um, but I think there’s like. 75% of the process can be done by machine and empower us humans to do what human does best.
Alejandro Cremades: Now Obviously we’re talking about the future here and that future looks and sounds amazing. But let’s say you had the opportunity of going back in time. Maybe I bring you back in time to that moment where you were still in University looking through the window and you know.
Eylon Etshtein: Okay.
Alejandro Cremades: Trying to figure out. You know what? that world would look like a world where maybe you would bring something to live on your own and let’s say you had the opportunity of you know, being outside of the window and and talking back to that younger self that is looking through the window And. You’re able to give your younger self one piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Eylon Etshtein: Are.
Eylon Etshtein: There is a sentence not not basically nobody knows I’m telling I’m telling that to myself beside my my shrink. Um, but I think now I’m going to tell it in the podcast because I think it answers the question really? well. Um.
Eylon Etshtein: It’s it sounds better in Hebrew it’s like as high as you can get and I always was saying that to myself, especially post the army as high as you can get and that’s probably what I was telling this. Kid that was looking in the window back in the technion as is as I as you can get go and do it I mean um, and probably I was also telling him don’t worry. It will be okay, but yeah, as high as as it can get.
Alejandro Cremades: So 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 that’s right.
Eylon Etshtein: Reach out to me. They can just email me at a loan at go perfect dot com.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing, easy enough for hey long. Thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been on on earth to have you with us.
Eylon Etshtein: Was a pleasure. Thank you for a time.
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