Oz Alon’s entrepreneurial journey is an exciting story that started with meeting his wife Naama at 13, sharing formative experiences together, and going on to build a huge business side-by-side. Both of them are co-founders of HoneyBook which they created, with the help of their third co-founder Dror Shimoni, to empower independent business owners with the tools they need to be successful. Their story is exciting, inspiring, positive, and filled with many lessons for entrepreneurs.
Oz shared his life story and how he built HoneyBook with his wife on the DealMakers Show. The story is unique and may be a big lesson on how we can create businesses together with our loved ones.
Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.
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Oz Alon was born and raised in Israel. He met his wife, Naama at 13 and they have been close ever since. They’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and used to throw parties together with up to 2,600 people in attendance. As Israelis, both of them joined the military. Oz was in intelligence while Naama joined the airforce.
They both went on to complete the Commanders Course and Officers Course with each reaching a leadership role. Oz commanded 50 people while Naama commanded a platoon of 200 soldiers. This early leadership experience would come in handy later on as they began their careers.
After completing military service and wanting to study engineering, Oz was persuaded to study law at university. While Naama studied UX Design. Oz went on to work at a law firm while also running a neighborhood bar and Naama opened her own web design studio.
Oz attributes his study and practice of law with helping him to analyze hypothetical situations in business. This small piece of business management expertise is what gave Oz and Naama a segue into entrepreneurship and moved them into the next phase of their success.
Though the pair enjoyed running their own businesses, the bar, and design studio respectively, they didn’t like doing the mundane and repetitive tasks that come with owning a business. Time spent on bookkeeping, payment tracking, and agreements took them away from doing the work they cared most about—serving their customers. See How I Can Help You With Your Fundraising Efforts
They knew other entrepreneurs must feel the same and saw an opportunity to develop a software solution to handle these challenges.
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HoneyBook is a software solution that helps independent businesses handle repetitive and sometimes difficult administrative processes. The all-in-one platform helps business owners manage leads, send agreements, process payments, and everything in between. The business has been running for the last eight years though its formation is much more humble and intriguing.
After coming up with the idea for HoneyBook, the couple was offered $25,000 to move from Israel to Palo Alto to start the business. While most families would have been afraid to make such a deal, the Alons jumped at the chance to turn their idea into a reality and moved to the U.S. immediately.
HoneyBook uses the SaaS model and charges their members a monthly or yearly subscription for access to the platform. Independent businesses such as interior designers, business coaches, or photographers use HoneyBook to run their businesses from first inquiry to final payment. The platform allows them to track leads, send proposals, agreements and invoices and accept online payments. In essence, HoneyBook helps business owners manage their client flow and cash flow. The service is reasonably priced and costs independent business owners as little as $9 a month for the starter plan.
Through prudent management, the business has grown from the initial $25,000 investment to $250,000,000 in investor funding over the years.
As business continues to grow and the team plans to develop new solutions to continue meeting the unique needs of independent business owners. The dream is to make HoneyBook a one-stop solution that enables any committed person to turn their passion into a successful business.
Oz and Naama, the co founders of Honey Book, were new in a country and didn’t have many friends to help them achieve their dreams. However, they set themselves up to the challenge. One of the first successful investments was from Ben Ling.
Like many other founders presenting the pitch, Oz had been nervous the entire night and was unable to present effectively. Midway through presenting he felt that he could not get the deal and wanted to just conclude the meeting and prepare for the next.
However, as luck would have it, t Ben liked the business’s design. He asked Oz a simple question: how to scale $10 million to $100 million. Oz’s cheeky answer was to just say “by multiplication and, believe it or not, the joke landed the company their first investment of $100,000.
The next meeting was equally successful and the pair got another funding from Michael Birch.
Storytelling is everything which is something that Oz Alon was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thieu (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.
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Along their way, Oz and Naama met some teams and investors that were willing to support a husband and wife start-up and others that were adamantly against it as they thought it was too risky.
Despite that sentiment, those investors who had experience with founder couples in businesses like Eventbrite and Cisco were optimistic. Luckily those that believed in the business supported it and HoneyBook has grown to reach a more than a $1B valuation and more than $3B in business booked on the platform. .
Some other things that could only be learnt from experience as the business grew include how to keep internal communications intact with team members split between offices in the U.S. and Israel.
Oz also learned that it’s always important to keep the customers’ evolving needs top of mind. HoneyBook has integrated and developed new products to continue providing value over the years.
Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:
- Starting a business in a foreign country
- How to build businesses together with a spouse
- How to be successful in funding rounds when you only know few people
- Taking advantage of opportunities when they strike
- How to handle business growth and handle transition over the years
- His top advice on how design can be the key to business success