Neil Patel

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In the world of business, there are individuals whose journeys exemplify resilience, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to turning ideas into reality. Simon Litsyn, a seasoned entrepreneur with a background rooted in academia, is one such individual whose story is as inspiring as it is insightful.

In this interview, Simon talks about the relationship between business and academic activities and the transition between the two fields. He also reveals his experiences making deals worth $1B and raising funding for his company XtraLit.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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Early Life and Education

Born in the former Soviet Union, Simon’s early life journey laid the foundation for his future endeavors. Raised in Ukraine and later moving to Russia, he pursued his education at St. Petersburg, Leningrad, where his academic pursuits set the stage for future innovations.

In 1990, Simon moved to Israel, holding the position of a professor at Tel Aviv University. Side-by-side, he was pretty active in industrial activities as a consultant and then as an entrepreneur, founding and executing companies.

Building USB Memory Cards at M-Systems

Simon’s transition from academia to entrepreneurship began with his involvement in M-Systems, a company that would later be acquired by SanDisk for a staggering $1.5 billion.

As one of the chief scientists at M-Systems, Simon played a pivotal role in developing technologies that revolutionized flash memory storage.

After the acquisition, Simon stayed on at SanDisk for another six years as part of the integration process. He considers it an interesting experience since he was a purely academic guy with some experience in writing papers.

However, he had almost zero experience in having the results of his papers implemented.

Simon recalls how he simply had an idea that eventually became very productive. He had been working on ideas related to increasing the density of memories from the beginning.

The flash memories were much more expensive at the onset. To be competitive, it became necessary to increase the density of the memory.

Simon had actually come up with an idea that was difficult to grasp, even for his colleagues at M-Systems. He had to overcome people’s resistance since they were not convinced this technology would work.

More so, they were not convinced that a small startup could compete with giants like Toshiba, SanDisk, Samsung, and others. However, Simon and his team drastically increased the voltage levels and density in the memories.

Their technology made flash memories and storage much cheaper and affordable, ultimately leading to the widespread adoption of USB sticks. Simon relates how the journey was challenging because he had zero experience making his scientific ideas work in electronics.

He had to present a lot of things to relay that the rules are quite different, but he was eventually very successful. This technology has become ubiquitous; now, all devices use flash memories or USBs as they are more commonly known.

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Challenges of Working in a Large Corporation

Working at SanDisk made Simon realize that working as the leading scientist in the field in a relatively small company is very different from working in a very big corporation.

Implementation and testing in a small company are easier since he could directly interact with the people responsible for testing.

In larger corporations, the process becomes quite bureaucratic and difficult. While SanDisk was a good place for innovation, implementation and risk-taking were challenging.

After a time, Simon decided that his thought processes were not a good fit for the large company. That’s when he considered transitioning to entrepreneurship.

Transition to Entrepreneurship – Founding StoreDot

Simon embarked on a new journey, co-founding StoreDot in 2012. StoreDot aimed to address the critical issue of battery charging time, particularly in the electric vehicle industry.

Simon’s research showed that each battery being charged may store one, and mean discharge may store 0, or you may have some intermediate value of the voltage.

Simon also realized that no one had thought about the concept and saw the potential for further developing the ideas even while he was working in the field of storage. He started thinking about extending the field and developing ideas of how to charge batteries faster than existing ones.

Simon also realized that the issue of fast-charging batteries was the critical bottleneck for electric vehicles. In 2012, the charger would take a lot of time and caused range and anxiety in the vehicles.

People were afraid to find themselves without juice in the car. The possibility of having and charging similar to gas feeding into a car would be a fantastic feature that will make electric vehicles much more appreciated.

Leadership and Fundraising for StoreDot

Simon faced many challenges with the idea catching on and remembers pushing through for eight years with his co-founders. Through innovative research and strategic financing, StoreDot garnered significant attention, raising over $200M at a valuation exceeding $1B.

That’s how they were able to capitalize on the business and growth because the concept was too capital-intensive to go in parallel with the business. As Simon explains, such ideas, by definition, are knowledge-intensive and require effort and a lot of time for implementation.

Proving that the technology works is not sufficient in the field of electric vehicles when you know that the design of the new vehicles will take five years. Simon explains how he knew he would see the product in the next generation since it will be a long time before the car goes on the road.

This is why it’s a complicated, financially intensive field, but eventually, it worked, and they managed to raise a significant sum of money. The company is still struggling to make it to the final products, But Simon believes that users will soon have this feature in every electric vehicle.

He is hopeful that the company StoreDot will be the first to promote and propose a solution for fast-changing batteries.

Venturing into XtraLit

As StoreDot continues to push the boundaries of battery technology, Simon has set his sights on his latest venture, XtraLit. Building on his expertise in materials science and lithium extraction, XtraLit aims to revolutionize the process of lithium extraction, a critical component in battery production.

Simon recalls how he was fascinated with lithium while working on batteries. He was involved with material studies for a long time and often posed the question of why lithium was the main and critical material involved in battery production.

Simon was curious about how it was produced and manufactured. He started to explore how other materials can mimic the same reaction as lithium. Interacting and working with other scientists in different fields, Simon came up with XtraLit, the material that is able to absorb lithium.

Simon reveals how he raised $30M for the company, and his extensive experience navigating the funding landscape helped him get there. Even though he is traditionally the technological guide, he has successfully organized the company’s business.

Storytelling is everything, which is something that Simon Litsyn 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 Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

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

Simon reveals how, in just two years, they have managed to arrive at a rare working solution that is now being tested on the upscaled pilot level in several locations in the world. However, investments have significantly decreased, especially at the last stages.

Even so, Simon has persevered and convinced lithium source owners and oil and gas companies working on extractive minerals in the Deal Sea, Great Salt Lake in the US, and Salt Flats in South America.


In a landscape marked by uncertainty and rapid change, Simon’s story offers valuable lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs. From his humble beginnings in academia to his groundbreaking contributions to the technology sector, Simon’s journey embodies the spirit of innovation and resilience.

As he continues to chart new territory with XtraLit, one thing remains clear: Simon Litsyn’s entrepreneurial journey is far from over. With his unwavering determination and visionary mindset, Simon is poised to leave an indelible mark on the world of technology and beyond.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, Including:

  • Simon Litsyn’s journey from academia to entrepreneurship highlights the power of bridging theoretical knowledge with practical innovation.
  • His pivotal role in companies like M-Systems and StoreDot underscores the transformative impact of technological advancements in flash memory storage and battery technology.
  • Simon’s ability to secure significant financing for StoreDot reflects his strategic acumen and leadership in navigating the complexities of the startup landscape.
  • Through ventures like StoreDot and now XtraLit, Simon continues to push the boundaries of innovation, particularly in the fields of battery technology and lithium extraction.
  • His transition from technical specialist to CEO exemplifies the importance of adaptability and visionary leadership in driving entrepreneurial success.
  • Simon’s journey serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and resilience in overcoming challenges and achieving breakthroughs.
  • As he continues to chart new territory with XtraLit, Simon’s entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to innovation inspire aspiring entrepreneurs worldwide.



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


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Neil Patel

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