Neil Patel

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Having already started and sold two companies, Omer Davidi is now working on his biggest project yet. One that he believes will be responsible for most of the food production in the world. His startup, Bee Hero, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Firstime, Rabobank, Cibus Capital, and General Mills.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • Building a company on a remote workforce
  • Convincing investors as you progress through different funding rounds
  • Pollination technology

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About Omer Davidi:

Omer Davidi is the CEO & Co-founder of BeeHero. He previously worked at Squad technologies as a CTO & Co-founder. Omer Davidi attended Reichman University (IDC Herzliya).

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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So very excited about they guess that we have today from startup nation. We’re gonna be talking about building scaling financing exiting I mean all the good stuff that we like to hear some of the issues about scaling on agriculture tech and then also the the. Things that come with it when you are raising money as well. But I think that we’re gonna find you know the interview today very inspiring so without farther ado let’s welcome our guest today Omar da welcome to the show.

Omer Davidi: I Welcome. Thank you so much for having me.

Alejandro Cremades: So originally from Israel so give us all of our walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.

Omer Davidi: I it was pretty good. Israel is great born and raised. Um, you know the the ability even though it’s a tiny country you get to see a lot and you get to experience different people. Um, you know. Be part of the army which is also you know part of life in a way. Um, and yeah, it’s been a while.

Alejandro Cremades: Um, I mean the army it’s it’s it’s incredible discipline that that it gives you guys over there I mean what? what? what did you get out of your experience with the army there.

Omer Davidi: Ah I think it’s actually an interesting part of also in in the reason israeli is becoming some sort of ah you know a high tech hub I think the fact that you are brought when you’re pretty young like 18 years old to an environment where. No one asks you anything I mean especially in the beginning you you build this discipline you learn that there are different things and it’s not the soft and a comfortable environment that at least I had you know at home and then you also get to experience connection with different people that usually you might not have. Experience if it were just in your own bubble. You know in a certain area. So I think this combination and then of course the ability to work with the most advanced technology in the world in some aspects just open minds to to what can be achieved.

Alejandro Cremades: Now Software you know on the engineering side. What really sparked the interest towards that because that same what you ended up studying to.

Omer Davidi: So I think since since I remember myself I used to take apart you know computers and try to understand how they work I remember this day of which I opened I think 3 or 4 different computers trying to look at the cpu and and you know broke some of those tiny pins that needs to go in.

Alejandro Cremades: And.

Omer Davidi: And I remember my mother being very pissed in the fact that they just ruined 4 computers. Um and and and and and and I guess it developed in a way so you know I was trying to figure out how those things work I became some sort of a geek. Ah. Very young age and or even before I finished high school I actually worked in one of the hyte companies focusing on knowledge management and and some other things so it was always probably a passion of mine. Um, and yeah, it’s a big part of my life.

Alejandro Cremades: And also a passion is starting companies because I mean you started so many I was like losing count. So let’s go ahead with the talking all the first company. How did the ah the idea come about and was that company.

Omer Davidi: So many years ago I was involved with some you know investors coming from the real estate space and looking to invest more into the technology space and I find myself acting as some sort of ah you know a person doing some sort of a due diligence or giving some more access to knowledge. Into those group of investors to understand the technology better and what’s challenging and so on and while I was doing it I you know I was focusing on the tech companies but they have experienced some other opportunities in different domains and and one of the things that came up is. Ah, you know, ah recycling of energy and like different challenges and opportunities that can come up in those things and I guess you know I was quite keen into business opportunities in general and I find myself actually diving into a space that they didn’t know much about and and found the first company um span. 2 a little bit more than 2 years Brought it to some sort of a success sold it and and moved forward so it was like you know an opportunity that comes and you just want to take it in a way.

Alejandro Cremades: And I guess that that gave you as well. The full visibility into how the full cycle of a company. You know, really works now. So what kind of disability did that give you.

Omer Davidi: So I think there are a lot of things that you learn you know doing things hands on that though, not necessarily can be taught or at least can be taught to a certain point. But once you experience it, you learn that you know real life is ah is a bit different and the pressure and like the. Other drivers that affects your decision making. But I think it also gives you the power that even though I was quite young when I first you know got into let’s call it the business world a lot can be Achieved. It’s a question of attitude. It’s a question of you know managing risks. Ah, it’s a question of bringing the right people that can support you in the areas that you don’t have enough strength or experience. Um and I think it helps to build up to to success in a way or or even a failure at least you learn from this failure. So.

Alejandro Cremades: Now now in your case, 1 thing that is incredible is I mean companies that you’ve started. They’re like so different in nature in terms of the segment I mean you just jump from one segment to the rest to the next I mean how are you able to do that because typically the the learning curve is pretty. Pretty high I mean typically you would see people that have had you know so many years invested into really understanding things right? You just jump. How do you do that.

Omer Davidi: Ah, so I think you know they’ll probably smarter people than me dealing with you know, super specific sophisticated stuff I think I was always keen to find and and I did actually this process because I was asking myself the same question like what passion at me. In terms of deciding what I want to do and so on I think looking into broken markets where technology can make a big difference and with my experience with technology and my ability to be hands-on and to try and get some sort of a sense of the problem or a sense of potential solutions. Ah, it is what led me and I guess the other part is that I don’t like to miss an opportunity. So if something comes up and it’s interesting enough. Let’s play with the problem. Let’s see where it goes and in many cases. It didn’t go you know and and I just stopped off for spending few months. But in some of those cases that you mentioned 1 thing led to the other and I find myself learning a new and new ah market and you challenge and again it’s about bringing the people who are more familiar with me that with with the problem and can help you know. Guide how a solution should look like.

Alejandro Cremades: So the next company that you did you didn’t really raise money for it. But it sounds like you were at it for about 3 years or so and you ended up also doing a transaction. So typically I mean I guess the question there is what were you guys doing. And what have you learned too because it sounds like here you go 2 companies for 2 exits like what have you learned around timing when doing an exit.

Omer Davidi: Who you know it’s sometimes they feel like if you’ve done something once or twice then suddenly you have all the answers and you know how it works I can tell you that every time I look back and I see mistakes that I could probably avoid you know thinking about them. But I think. Timing is is probably a big thing I mean when we look at the history of you know some companies that succeeded and you look back. Sometimes you find companies that were trying to do exactly the the same in some cases you can identify. You know, small things that they did differently but in many cases it’s about timing and they. Ability of the market to to accept some sort of a solution and so on and I think that especially now when we see the market you know changes quite a lot I mean once it was covid now is the financial markets that it’s a war. So a lot of things happening in the world and I think it’s about, um, you know. Working with ah um, timing in mind. So if you have something you want to achieve try to pursue it as fast as possible and you don’t know how the world is going to look like six months from now or four months from now. Um, so I think it’s about getting to a point they say okay I brought the company to a point that probably others can take it. Failure or it got to some sort of a proof of concept. Solid unit economics now they are probably smarter and and better people to take it from here and then you just just like look at the options say okay should I be here can I achieve more or what can the company achieve more or should I focus. Follow.

Omer Davidi: You know on the next challenge. Um, and now I’m in the next challenge.

Alejandro Cremades: And we’ll talk about the next challenge in just a little bit but as the saying goes you either succeed or you learn your next company was squat technologies and the outcome was not the one that you had hoped for so at what point do you realize? it’s time to pull the Plug. What does that thought process look like I’m sure he’s painful. And what did you take with you from this experience.

Omer Davidi: Um, so maybe I’ll start from the the latter question I think what I I’ve taken from this experience is the ability to kill ideas fast. So one of the feedbacks. The main feedbacks that I have for the process in in squad was that it took us me and my co-founders. Eight months to decide that we don’t that we want to drop this idea and the problem was that we spend a lot of time with senior management to get a better understanding of the problems and exploree the potential solution and we got you know such a good feedback and we were like and. Top of the wall saying. Okay, we just nail it and understand exactly what needs to be to happen and it took us few months until we got down to the you know to the to the field level in a way I would say to get the real experience of what’s happening because sometimes the senior management might have. Ah, perception of how things are running in their business but in practicality it’s not really the case and some of the assumptions that we’ve made in the early days just started to fall and I remember I had this chat with my co-founder back then I think it was after four months and he was like I don’t think you know our assumptions hold enough. And then we stop and we say okay we need to have like a group of assumptions. Let’s say six ten assumptions and as long as x amount of those assumptions holds. We continue. But if those assumptions fall we’re out and it’s not about emotions. It’s not about you know the baby that.

Omer Davidi: We we brought together of those kind of things putting emotions aside and when that happened we just decided we’re out. Um I think it’s you know, like many different things that you need to do sometimes in the business wall like laying off people is never nice. But after you do it several times and you understand that’s what the business needs. Ah, it doesn’t become easier but it it makes more sense and I think also here once once you have this experience saying. Okay, yeah I did spend eight months maybe I learned I probably could have learned in three months what I’ve spent just eight months on so it’s not like it’s all positive. But spending more time on something that I don’t think holds anymore wouldn’t make it better so just move on.

Alejandro Cremades: That’s it now 1 door closest another one opens and in this case, it was a rocket ship that opened so why? how do you come across? You know they say next idea with be hero and and why do you thought? why? Why did you think you know that it made sense to pursue.

Omer Davidi: I.

Omer Davidi: So I think in general you know when we when we close squad and we decided to look at something else. The the challenge was to experience you know problems or to experience industries that might require solutions and it’s always about you know the processes of doing idea ideation of different things. Usually you want to encounter the problem or you want to be in a market that you learn about the problem for many years we joined um a program in in idc herzulya one of the universities in in herzalya that was building some sort of a singularity university concept. Trying to bring people from different domains that already have some sort of an experience ah in the outside world and then put them in a room and see if they can figure out and deal with some significant challenges and one of the people that I’ve met in this program was it I cano. Who is one of the co-founders of Bee Hero and he’s a second generation commercial beekeeper so his his family owns one of the largest be farm in Israel and he was born in raised into beekeeping. Um, you know most of us heard about colon collapse. He sold it on the fact that bees are dying so you know one 1 thing led to another. And I found myself diving into the beekeeping wall with some other team members that were looking into the same issue and trying to figure out whether technology make a difference in this world.

Alejandro Cremades: So then once say you had an idea there you know and you thought it could make a difference. It could make a difference you know in in what you guys are up to what were the next steps that you decided to to take care.

Omer Davidi: So unlike the you know squad that we just talked about I think it was about getting out to the field immediately like okay technology in most cases can can be built. Ah there’s a question about unit economics. There’s a big question about the ability to scale. But you want to experience the problem you want to see it in your eyes and and we spend a lot of time out there in the field speaking with at the beginning beekeeper. So 1 aspect was trying to learn more about beekeepers challenges in dealing with the you know, changing environment. Ah, with the industrialization of agriculture and how it affects you know, mortality rates of bees unit economics of beekeepers and so on so that was one angle. The second angle was to start and play with data. So you know we we used our academic hat to try and get some. Collaboration with big companies and try to figure out what they’ve been studying about bees and colon collapsepsy disorder and we’ve learned that everyone use very sophisticated hardware components. You know to collect data and and and we need to think of a different approach because we’re looking to build a business. We’re not just trying to make a research. Um, so we started to play with with sensors like you know the off the-shelf. Easiest simplest way to just start and collect data. So the more time we collect data. We can later on sense. The the feel for it and see whether collecting data from inside hives can actually say something about the hive because.

Omer Davidi: Sometimes that’s not that’s not the case. Ah, and the third part was trying to understand why hive monitoring companies that we’ve seen so far didn’t get to the scale that you know we are even looking at the problem like colony co collapsepsy saw it was not something new five years ago it was probably. 10 years before that we we introduced it was introduced to the wall. Um, but we didn’t see a lot of hive monitoring companies that are focusing on the commercial domain the majority of highs most of them have shifted towards the hobbyist beekeepers. And there was a big question marks whether you can actually build a scalable company that dealing with hive monitoring. Ah and I think the outcome of those 3 things that we’ve been doing since the early days of being hero led us to focus on pollination optimization. And how we can utilize technology and work closely with beekeepers but not only help beekeepers to deal with their challenges but also introduce different concepts of pollination that will allow. You know, seventy seventy five percent of the crop growers. Um. To pollinate better and increase output.

Alejandro Cremades: And obviously you know the rest is history. What what for the people that are listening to really understand that Why ended it up being the um basically the business model of be hero. How do you guys make money.

Omer Davidi: So bee hero is actually selling precision pollination as a service. So if you are growing a southern crop that requires bee pollination which again is approximately seventy seventy five percent of the crops out there. You need to bring bees to introduce bees during the bloom season. And those hives that are being brought on tracks to the field might pollinate millions or tens of millions of flowers a day or they might pollinate zero flowers a day depends on the quality and the strength and the welfare of bees. Ah, so we focus on how can we ensure that they will pollinate those tens of millions of flowers a day and you get a full cover because a flowur that is not pollinated will just dry and fall a flower that was pollinated is an opportunity now you need to use irrigation. Smart. You need to use nutrients smart and other things that has been. Have been optimized over the years in order to achieve the the maximum outputs possible. So we’re selling precision pollination as a service and behind the scene we’re establishing partnership with commercial beekeepers to support their efforts to introduce better hives so we work with both players.

Alejandro Cremades: And for something like this I mean you guys have you know, raised ah a bit of capital to to support the operation. How much capital have you guys raised today.

Omer Davidi: So until today we raise approximately $64,000,000 in the 3 funding round. So we’ve announced our series b approximately six months ago. Um, and yeah.

Alejandro Cremades: And what is the process like for raising money for an arctic I’m sure it’s a little bit different than from the traditional Sas you know type of company.

Omer Davidi: Yeah, so I mean I’m I’m originally kind of coming from the cyber security space and and a lot is different I know that you know in the early days of be hero. It was. It was extremely challenging. So you know you come up with this. Concept or idea on a field that most people don’t even know about and you don’t have any traction in the early days and you’re you’re trying to get you know investors to believe in what you’re building and and it’s quite hard because everyone is afraid of the Arctic space. Can you actually build scalable companies in the Arctic space. Ah, we haven’t seen a lot of axes I mean again, going five years ago Four years ago haven’t seen a lot of exits in this space. So there’s a lot of question marks of whether you know investors want to take their money and invest in something that they’re not well familiar with and and.

Alejandro Cremades: Um.

Omer Davidi: The early day was were quite tough I mean I remember you know for the seed stage. We. It felt like we spit blood you know in a way and we actually had a date on the wall that we say okay if we cannot raise money by that date. It’s it’s over I mean maybe we have something but we need to have those resources. And after we raised this money and we got some good strategic investors to join and we started to feel more traction and to see some some more you know revenues then the discussion changes Now. It’s about you know unit economics and about how fast can you scale? Um, versus. Is there something interesting here or not or can you overcome some of those technological challenges that you need to do um and and I definitely see you know a better experience going through series a and later on Series B bringing most Litage investors to help and to push forward the company. Um, but but yeah, the early stage for an actor company is I believe one of the most challenging parts.

Alejandro Cremades: Now in Acttic why is it so complicated when it comes to scale. What are some of the issues. You know that they typically founders would encounter and perhaps you know some of the ones that you guys have encountered too.

Omer Davidi: Um, so it’s it’s a question of the you know the valuable proposition and the validation. So I mean think of a grower. Let’s say you’re growing citrus and you speak to different companies that you know tells you how they going to help you to increase yields or help you to do. Something eventually, you want to make sure how much money does this brings in and you cannot try everything at the same time so you’re going to pick few and you’re going to run some of those experiments and if the value proposition is increasing yield then how many years you want to see. Um. Consecutively that will show you this increase in yields and can you actually ah be confident that this increase in yields is a result of this specific solution and and one of the things that I had the privileges to meet with. 1 of the probably the most successful farmers in the world and and to talk about you know the strategy and the valuable position and he told me that you know companies are coming and say okay I’ve I’ve walked with I mean I’ll give you farmers that I walk with and they will tell you how well the. You know my solution is and how they seen the value and that’s going to be some sort of you know evangelist to support the solution but he said yeah, you probably go to 10 goalers you’re running experiments 5 of them will see better yields because 5 of them will just see higher reels. This is how it goes.

Omer Davidi: And some of them maybe 3 of them will be convinced that you’re the reason of of the yield increase and suddenly you have 3 evangelists but I don’t trust it I mean I want to be able to have my own confidence that the solution that you’re providing is actually as a result. So. Think a lot of companies are struggling in the cycles and and there’s a seasonality so it’s not like you can do things on a monthly basis and then you find yourself spending sometimes 2 3 years to move from. Let’s call it the proof of concept to commercialized solution and then to scale it. Ah, and for startups two or three years it’s sometimes it’s a lifetime. Um, think that one of the things that we took from those those meetings and and trying to to do a bit differently I would say is to to focus on things that can be validated on the spot. So if we want to talk about the accuracy of the system we want to be able to show you know on a screen. Okay, this is the status of this specific hive. That’s what’s happening in this hive. Let’s open the hive together and see inside and this is something that can be validated on the spot and it helps you to build the credibility that at least you know what you’re doing. Now. There’s a question how it’s going to support me and so on. So maybe you’re not trying to um you know trying to monetize your solution in the best way possible. But you’re also taking into consideration that you you need to scale. You need to scale. It will help you to improve it will help you to show the value on ah on a brother.

Omer Davidi: Ah, sample set and then you can start and and maybe build premium models or different ways to monetize those solutions in a more efficient way.

Alejandro Cremades: So I sort thinking about scale to I’m thinking about team I mean how how many people do you guys have right now in the company.

Omer Davidi: So we’re getting close to 60 people now in the company which feels a lot but I guess compelled to revenues will feel still kind of a thin company. So I don’t know.

Alejandro Cremades: Now now in that case I mean you have the sixty plus spread across 6 different time zones. So how do you be a culture like that you know I’m sure that you know is is not easy.

Omer Davidi: It’s not easy I think that one of my main challenges like my personal challenges in in be hero is the fact that we’ll spread across 6 time zone as you mentioned and we have people coming from different cultures speaking different languages. And miscommunication is miscommunication and time zone difference are probably the the biggest barriers for some of the projects or some of the things that we are trying to push forward. Ah, there are also you know some advantages so you know a salesperson goes to sleep in the next morning then they have a solution because someone walked all night or. Morning in order to solve it. But I think when it comes to culture. It’s about trying to identify the maximum group of values that brought people to walk in the company. So everyone to join be hero cares about the environment care about bees. Want to see how. You know technology can make a difference in this kind of an old fashioned industry. Ah, and I think as long as you focus on those core joint values. It’s easier to create this you know joint culture and and bonding. I’m not saying it’s easy I’m not saying we’ve solved it I probably have more questions and and answers on this topic but that this does all the things that we focus on and and be here.

Alejandro Cremades: So imagine you go to sleep tonight omer and you wake up in a world where the vision of be hero is fully realized what does that world look like.

Omer Davidi: Um, so we have approximately 100,000,000 hives in the world that are responsible for most of the food production in the world. I mean I want to see. How technology is introduced to all those hives by the way whether it’s bee hero or other companies I want to make sure that we create sustainable food production system that we can ensure that bees are being used in food production for pollination. But they’re also being taken care of um I think that over the last many years we’ve managed to show how we can optimize food production. But I think we did it by mortgaging our children and grandchildren future basically taking resources. From the future and using them now and and and I think that’s not fair. I mean if we want to simplify it. Just not fair. We need to be able to create a sustainable food system that can support the growing population. Um, and and I’m sure that addressing the Bee problem is a significant part of it. It’s not the only part of it. But it’s a significant part of it.

Alejandro Cremades: So if I was to put you now you know, let’s talk about the past if I was to put you now into a time machine and bring you back in time back in time to that moment when you know you were thinking about starting your first business if you could go back in time and have a chat with that younger Omar. And be able to give yourself 1 piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.

Omer Davidi: Wow Um I think it’s about focusing on the people that you walk with in the beginning I think that we tend to work with those that believe in what we do. And those will always try to give us the confidence that we’re on the right track whether because their you know friends and family is trying to support our efforts whether they’re like extremely positive people. The things that everything can be achieved. I think I would focus a lot more on those that told me why that will not work and and you know you you never want to be in a place where people telling you why the things you’re doing and investing your life in wouldn’t work but those are the people that taught us the most and made us better. Um. And and even in be here I feel like in the early days we were trying to you know, push away those that explain why it wouldn’t work like um, let’s walk with those who believe in us. Um, so I think that would probably be the biggest advice or something that I would do differently? um. And I’m not sure I I will the next time but it’s definitely something that they want to focus more on in terms of just getting better faster.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing, Well honor for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to to do so.

Omer Davidi: So first of all, be hero website. So it’s behero as you can see here io and you can contact us I’m also on Linkedin so feel free to reach out I’m not as responsive on Linkedin but I’ll try to do my best. Ah, and yeah would love to connect with people who can relate to our vision and our mission.

Alejandro Cremades: Amazing. What hey Omar thank you so much for being on the deal maker show too late has been on on earth to have you with us.

Omer Davidi: Um, thank you so much and keep up the great work. It’s it’s exciting to hear about your stories.

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