Shilo Ben Zeev’s entrepreneurial journey is a multifaceted narrative of resilience, innovation, and a commitment to making a positive impact. From revolutionizing diabetes management with Dario to redefining motherhood through Emulait, Shilo’s ventures reflect an unwavering determination to address pressing challenges and create meaningful change in the world.
Emulait has attracted funding from a top-tier investor, Roembke Manufacturing, and informal investors like friends, family, individual investors, private investors, and family offices.
In this episode, you will learn:
- The journey from the streets of Jerusalem to global entrepreneurship underscores the transformative power of resilience and vision.
- The groundbreaking venture, Dario, not only went public but reshaped the landscape of diabetes management by introducing smartphone-connected devices and emphasizing user experience.
- Juggling three ventures simultaneously, Shilo delved into genetic research, microbiome engineering, and continuous glucose monitoring, each leaving a distinctive mark on their respective industries.
- The candid critique of traditional venture capitalist dynamics highlights the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in gaining support and recognition, especially in the medical device and consumer sectors.
- Inspired by personal challenges, Emulait blends deep camera technology with a 3D-scanning app to revolutionize breastfeeding support, reflecting his commitment to addressing fundamental parenting needs.
- Emulait’s unique blend of hardware and software faced fundraising challenges, emphasizing the importance of perseverance and securing support from investors who recognized its potential impact.
- The vision for Emulait extends beyond innovative products for mothers; it envisions capturing a significant portion of the parenting market, redefining the global landscape of parenting support within the next 12-16 months.
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About Shilo Ben Zeev:
Shilo Ben Zeev is a veteran entrepreneur with 18.9 years of experience in the healthcare and medical devices industry. He is the founder and CEO of Emulait, a personalized infant feeding system.
Prior to Emulait, he was an innovator in the diabetes and Pharma industries. Shilo has a strong background in start-ups, product development, and business strategy.
He is based in the United States and has a proven track record of improving the quality of life and well-being of users of his products.
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Connect with Shilo Ben Zeev:
Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a really amazing founder a founder that has done it so many times that day I was getting Diy and when when when I was here about all the number of companies that he’s built scale finance sold I mean you name it all the above. We’re gonna be talking quite a bit. About everything you know in the journey in that journey that we like to hear obviously in the case of this founder. We’re going to be talking about when he decided to become an entrepreneur in his life. It actually happened in his childhood also aboutescs and the support that they provide or that they don’t provide to founders. And then also how to build teams as well as the development site. You know when you’re thinking about an idea and how you really put it into a product that you bring to market so without further ado. Let’s welcome our guests today Shelo Band Steve welcome to the show.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Ah, thank you for having me such a pleasure to be here. Thank you.
Alejandro Cremades: So originally born and raised in Jerusalem there in Israel so give us our walk through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Shilo Ben Zeev: It was actually pretty nice jerusalem back then very small city a today. It’s Youed. It’s a cost to 1000000 people. But when I grow up it was very small a city a actually israeli in Arabs. We all grow together which was really nice. And I um I grew up in a very in a religious feminine in Jerusalem. Um I went to a school there and then I left for the high school I left the house in the age of 12 and I went to a school that you know. You stay there for three weeks and then you’re going home for a for 24 hours and but it was it. It was fine. My childhood day. It’s a big story. It’s it wasn’t a regular childhood. It wasn’t so epi childhood do from the family side from my relationship with with my father. So this is really impact my a I would call my ability tools to study I let’s be honest, didn’t really study anything and I didn’t finish my high school but I think in this process I actually understood or um, you know about myself. That I need to find my my own way and they to be independent and do what I want to do and because I type 1 diabetic from very engaged from the age of 8 and we’re talking forty years ago when it was completely different from today.
Shilo Ben Zeev: It was kind of a mission for me to to start a changing this this this market changing the way people with type one diaability live and the quality of life. And that’s it. That’s was my first company. This is always start my entrepreneurship journey.
Alejandro Cremades: And that company ended up being Dario which a win public and they actually at the peak of the valuation of the company. It was about three hundred to four hundred million so pretty amazing to have um first day.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Correct.
Alejandro Cremades: Outcome you know first company first outcome like that I guess as part of that journey. You know how long did it take for the company to go public and and most importantly, like how how was that process of developing it and bringing. You know the product you know of Dario to market. What did you learn there.
Shilo Ben Zeev: So it was really interesting because when we started out, you try to convince investors and Vc to invest in the company was airpress. They didn’t they didn’t invest. They didn’t want to everything understand why. Anything needs to be changing this market. You know they’re looking at the big companies selling drugs and insulin and they think this that’s all, but when I actually look this market and they give you an example, you know when you use the startup key to check your blood level and you’re a teenager is cool. You don’t want to go around with a big kit and everybody see you test your blood and when I look this said. Okay, let’s change this. Let’s have a product that actually connect to the smartphone when it was the beginning of their you’re talking about 2011 and let’s let’s help the young generation the young. People with type one diabetic to have make sure they keep growing healthy because they check the blood sugar to use the insulin the right way couldn’t convince any Vc. How important is this not in the first time and not in the last time for me so a. We actually connect with a bankcaer from New York they told us let’s do what’s called back then s one s one was when you actually and I don’t know if you remember I I don’t think it’s actually exists today anymore. But you became public company by sending shows and get money from investors.
Shilo Ben Zeev: So we actually it raised $6000000 in this way and we became public company and then when you became public company. It’s much easier for you to raise more money so all together before I left the company raise around $40000000 and tito today I think the company raised more than hundred and fifty million dollars and what we create in dao which was really amazing because think about this that was the iphone number 1 number 2 and we came in and said we’re going to use the iphone as medical device company a medical device device and what we did. We created a product that. Connect direct to the a like to the smartphone so you check your blood live sugar len when it’s connected to the smartphone. So just imagine going to the Fda and convince them that you can use smartphonees medical device that’s along took almost a year to go this process. And I still remember the first question. What’s happened if the batteries of you know it’s a medical device what you’re going to do so my answer is you’re going to charge it and it’s taken long time to get to this you know way of thinking this is where we’re going. And then together with the product. We build the the first diabetic management app and I really believe the da um made a big change in this world because I think after daio the big company is actually understood that user experience.
Shilo Ben Zeev: It’s very important and from that day I think we saw a big shift in the medical device in and the diabetic world and today it’s completely different world. You know is the cu continuous glucose monotonian in this in the in all the different. Perhaps and and everything it’s really a different say a different board and I’m very happy to be to see that and and then to know that I was part a part of making this change.
Alejandro Cremades: So then so then for this obviously you know like you ended up shifting gears after are you and rather than you know you see as they say once an entrepreneur entrepreneur always an entrepreneur entrepreneur now in your case you know you you went all out I mean after Dario you literally win at it with 3 companies at the same time I mean obviously. Doing one company is is already difficult doing 3 is really absolutely incredible. I mean that was amindo you had the smart time and then also my biotic so so what what were you doing with those 3 companies if you could really quickly tell us you know what was the ah business model on each one of them.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Correct.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Yeah, so first of all, it’s It’s a bit different because for example, a Mendo and my biotics. It’s not my area meaning I’m noticed and I’m not you know a really someone who study Hemiun and became expert in genetic. It’s not really me.
Alejandro Cremades: You know that will be awesome.
Shilo Ben Zeev: But I had a partner that he was the the scientific eye and my job was on the business side meaning building the company raise the money and and building oh the side of the company. Why e was in the lab and make sure that the company actually you know going through the development process of engineering. And in microbiome so my site was more on the business. We actually got for a mentor and smart time a Vc money on the same time to the 2 companies. So it’s actually it was also something very unique. They the same vc one of the biggest in the world for farmer world. Invest in 2 companies on the same type Amanda was sold two years ago to a very big form japanese phtheical company and a micro in my biotics which a microbiome company still running studies I’m not involved in the both companies anymore. I left them on 2017 and a mento still running is a part of this pharmaceutical company and my biotics running as a separate company doing studies right now. So. A smart zme was a different story. What I tried to do in smartyme is to make the continuous glucose monotonic much more accurate that was back then a huge problem because the difference was 20 to 25% every time you did that sugar.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Which if you use insulin. It’s very dangerous because it can create hippoglychemmi all the time so we took the enzyme that actually take the blood and convert them to the electronic electrics in going and give you the number and we try to do direct evolution. And protonin of the enzyme to make it much more accurate. We actually achieved that and the plan was to take this enzyme and create a new continuous glucose monotonin. And the Vc that invested in the company decided they want to shut it down because probably one of the reasons because Decom came with the g g six a cgm which was really accurate I’m not sure it was the right decision but that that did it. That’s the risk you take when you have Vc you know they make decision for you. So um, they yeah they that was the decision. So this is these 3 companies and then I start the current company with call.
Alejandro Cremades: And we’ll talk about that in just in just a little bit because I want to unpack you know a few things here. So I guess on the um for example with the Mendo which you guys sold for 3 for about 350000000 what did you learn there. Ah when it comes to acquisitions.
Shilo Ben Zeev: So I was actually in the process of the acquisition on the little bit on the sides a sidewalk because my partner was the one who am running the same a deal. But I watch from side I was involved a little bit but not I would not say that I was deep involved. It was more im a what I learned to be honest that sometimes you needs more patient because if we wait probably another year or two. It would be a billion dollar exit so sometimes you need to have a little bit more patience on the process. A but also I must say you know when you have 70 people seven zero they actually get $1000000 or more from this exit and they can go and buy house and you change their life. It’s actually a very good finnix. So. You know it’s about size when you’re going to set the company and and and if you wait and then maybe we take the risk and nobody will be happy and enjoy the exit or you you want quickly to do exits I can tell you about myself if I my the way I like to do stuff. It’s bit the company and save the company. Because I don’t see myself if as the best Ceo out there I don’t think my quality is is is you know coming as a Ceo I I know very well how to comes the idea how to be the team around idea how to actually develop the idea and make it a product. But.
Shilo Ben Zeev: If someone will come to me and say come be a Ceo of a company I will say it’s not me I’m I’m really entrepreneur I’m unless someone won company. So my approach with my company is let’s build a company and sell the company let other people that actually know how to grow companies do the job. And so this is but this is who I am I know other entrepreneurs they really likes you know, running companies and saw them going and going and going but it’s not me.
Alejandro Cremades: And what about with smart time. Obviously you know with the mendo it was a really nice outcome but with smart time obviously quite disappointing. You know to see you know Vc shutting it down I guess you know. What? what What would you say that you got you know out of that experience, especially when he came to vcs perhaps not supporting really the ah the entrepreneurs there.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Yes, it was very clear to me to do everything in my power not to take money from vs. That’s that’s was my yeah you know to summary my experience walker with vs and and I need to tell you something I met. I did a list one time I met more than 300 vss in the us alone and I must say from that point I try my the hardest I can not to take any money from visas. The disappointed and I’m talking in my area you know, maybe in in you know in the tech area. It’s completely different I have no experience. But when I’m speaking about you know pharma medical device and consumer area I have almost zero appreciation for the vis and in it’s from.
Alejandro Cremades: Now.
Shilo Ben Zeev: The the moment you sit in front on them and and they zero respect to the entrepreneurs. They always no better than you and sometimes you sit in front someone who’s 25 years old and you know his father play golf with a you know main partner in the Vc. This is why I got the job. Have no idea what you’re talking about but he knows better than you the way they invest money which it’s completely wrong if you ask me? we don’t we don’t not don’t need a Vc money when you have $25000000 says you need the vis is money when you need to start this when you need to push when you need to develop the product now we can say that’s the business model. But the problem is it’s dangerous. We live today until eighty five Ninety ninety five in its cats getting long and long life right. We need the solutions and if entrepreneurs will not get the money to create develop these solutions in 25 years or 35 years we’re going to having a big problem but you cannot do that today because nobody give you money if youre a new entrepreneur and you have a great idea. And you’re going to the vcs you have no chance you have no chance they will tell you go develop sell and come to me when you have $25000000 revenues I will give you some money who needs this money when I have $25000000 revenues I need the money when I start the company I need to seed money.
Shilo Ben Zeev: I Need the money the money to create to develop the product and where you actually needs the money The vis is no there and and I think this is needs to be changed and I can tell you about for the company that I’m running now emulate that was amazing. This is a product that literally. Change the life of mothers around the world change the life So you know I was little bit naked. Still.
Alejandro Cremades: Oh so like like let’s let’s talk about this because obviously this was the next stop in your journey. You know after you were done with those companies. You know we emulate you know, basically something happened with your daughter that they made you think so so walk us you know and the folks that are listening through.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Um, yes, so.
Alejandro Cremades: What happened and why you decided to take action.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Sure. So so my wife start breastfeeding my yeah, my first daughter omaia and she didn’t add enough milk so in some point you know theation consoling say this and you need to go um for Mula because you don’t have milk.
Shilo Ben Zeev: And then we 5 bottles and she didn’t took any buts and it took us months which try everything and you know you see your wife’s struggling and it’s became like it’s a mental issue because you have a little baby. The crying. Don’t stop. She’s angry. You cannot feel. And it’s all they also it’s it’s really hard so in some point I look at the doctor and they said let me ask you a question if I can three d print my wife breast andippes this is going to help the baby and he said yeah definitely but you cannot do that so that was the first time I understand okay this is the challenge we need to face. It’s took me a few years because you know we needed to wait until the deep camera was introduceding the smartphones especially iphone as soon the deep camera introduced what we did we start building scan on the app. That actually can scan the mother breast and the pen and we scanning. We’re not taking any picture that’s important to understand we’re using 7 different data points on the breast and we’re taking this data and we emulate this size and shape and skin tone. 1 of our 5 shapes and shades now why we have 5 shapes we actually did a very big study more than 1000 women’s that we scanned the brush and nippets from different stages. You know young, a.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Teenagers mothers before pregnancy after giving Burroughs all these stages and and by the way it was published in the academia magazine I think three or four weeks ago ah we did this study and when we did a study we defined the 5 shapes that. Doubt the most I will say 95% of the womens around the world era and we developed this s nippet that actually what’s really amazing about nippers that it’s a fill and and act like a modern nipple and that means. Of course First of all theyvefining when you touch this kneepper. You actually feel that it’s like a mother like a woman nipple but it’s also acting like this meaning when you take a body regular body that the baby drink. It’s like he’s drinking here in it actually to walk it needs’s to suck. In order to get the myrk. So all the benefits of breastfeeding by developing the oral size of the baby. The jaw everything you get the same benefits from this nipple of course breastfeeding itself. Always the best who can for the mothers who can breastfeed but when you cannot. This is the best solution and what we also did in this company we said okay, that’s beautiful, but let’s close the loop are we closing the loop here so you have the app because you need to download the up and you need to scan your breast and you press in it pin in order to get the right shape and shade.
Shilo Ben Zeev: But then you also can use the app for all the activities breastfeeding butterfeeding all this information but we also know that mothers are very tired and stop typing and it’s very hard so we said okay, let’s try to help them. Of course you have voice comment. Can talk to the app you can tear the up your activities and it’s going to the up but we also build a woer to warm the milk. But this woer it’s like sensor machine and I give you an example. So so you understand what I’m meaning in America as you know. You give birth you have martintenity for few Weeks you’re going back to work so today the mother sitting in the office texting the care give you and asking did the baby heat. How much eat. Do I need to pump more milk. Our product. What’s happening is soon as the caregiver put the button on the warmer. The mother gani toification warmer activate when he finished to eat she will know exactly how much you eat and how long it took then she can go and pump more milk then she using our bag. With scanning it. Go direct to the app and next time she taken mick from the fruit. We actually telling girl which ones the latest the the first coming first going. So we’re closing the loop for the mothers using this product so she get all the information in needs now just so you know.
Shilo Ben Zeev: In this market. This is not exist and think about this. It’s crazy because you have 4000000 new customer every year in United States and 4000000 in Europe nobody took this market through the 21 century. So if you’re talking about company like proctan and gamble. They sell diapers but they don’t know how much diapers they you you use. They have no idea when the box of diapers are finished without product. They actually descend toification to the model you have 5 last typers in your box. Can we ship you in your box and they ship her a your books this does not exist today. So when you look at emulla in 1 end, it’s a product company with a beautiful battles and paciierers and almost a a 12 different product but it’s also software company. They collects lots of data to help the the the parents. And also have the companies that actually sell to the household. Whatever they need in order to grow the babies and and manage the house. So. It’s actually a beautiful company that combines software and product together and we are the market we setting.
Alejandro Cremades: So so obviously you know tremendous journey here now you guys have raised about $20000000 but given your pre prior experience. Obviously you did things in a different way when he came to raising money. How did you go about it and how did you make sure that. You are getting money from the right people for the right reasons.
Shilo Ben Zeev: all right so First of all first money I invest the first money in the company was the first $ $1000000 then I am I met a couple from from Honeyton Beach in California they this couple sold 3 companies in the baby area. So I sat with them and I told them the story I said what I want to do and they look at me and say this and this is going to be big. We wants to be part of this that was the next money coming in the company and this is how we raised the first $6000000 it was friends friends. And really good people so the base the base of our the foundation of our investors. It’s a very smart people the the each one of them was entrepreneur build a company sold the company make money from these companies and. So I um, actually survived myself with a group of very smart people and entrepreneurs they can end and and this is how slowly slowly we grew up our investors at list and then the the next one was $11000000 and we actually had 1 a 2 big investors. 1 of them is the owner of the third largest a logistic company in the world I will not say his name because I did ask’s for permission but this family invested more than $3000000 in the company and amazingly our manufacturer from Indiana.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Greg Invests $3000000 in the company too and bring his friends for another $1000000 so we add $7000000 just from two groups. The one is our manufacturer and 1 is a big investor and then the car it investors and and. And and friends of friends. So there’s no vc and I actually must tell you I approached this is and what I did I actually approached this is own by women’s owned by fe mothers i. You know it was clear to me that I’m going to introduce them what we’re doing and they will see the benefits for the mothers and for the for the families and you know, even even you know one of our big a consumer we can see it’s a it’s a same-sex couples they they wants to use this product. And let me tell you something? No one of them show off to the column. No one even no one from this vs female ons show to the to the to the presentation to see what we are doing.
Alejandro Cremades: So.
Shilo Ben Zeev: This is something I cannot understand it’s it’s something that over my a limit to understand out. They don’t even care to come and see a poor. They’re actually going to help so many mothers around the world I think they don’t care.
Alejandro Cremades: So what do you think happened? What do you think they didn’t show up.
Shilo Ben Zeev: I Think these people from the vs they fall of themselves and they don’t care and let’s be honest, this is a this is this podcast of entrepreneurs right? dead nothing to do without us take the entrepreneurs out of the picture what are going to do with the money. Nothing.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah.
Shilo Ben Zeev: But they don’t understand that they believe they are in the top of the food chain and we are the the bottom of the food chain but it’s the opposite. We are the entrepreneurs of the top of the the food chain they are on the bottom because they don’t come with any ideas without us. There’s nothing to do nothing.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah.
Shilo Ben Zeev: But the way they’re look entrepreneurs and it’s not just me. You know I’m speaking with my friends I met lots of Antionos in my 20 years of journey and I I have friends all they have the same stories. They didn’t respect us.
Alejandro Cremades: And I and and I and I and and I and I agree with you if we were to generalize but we see there is some really great exceptions and really good people too out there. Ah yeah.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Um, in the tech in the tech site I heard from many interpreters on the tech side. They’ve an amazing vc is the really I the sta and E and and you know I heard lot amazing stories I can tell you for my experience in the medical device and consumer side.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah.
Shilo Ben Zeev: This is needs to have a big big change. It’s just.
Alejandro Cremades: Well hey you know it. It. It all comes you know with awareness now I want to ask you something here. Shilo. Ah when we’re talking about investment you know and this money that you guys have raised I want to talk about vision because obviously that’s what you’re enrolling people into now whether it’s investors ah customers or employees. So if you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of emulate is fully realized what does that world look like.
Shilo Ben Zeev: So the vision is to change this world in a way. The first of all, we give the mothers the best tools to feed the baby that that’s the first thing we want to do and there’s 20% 20% of the babies day this. What. Cold. It’s not the the scientific term but that’s the term everybody use nipple confusion meaning they they don’t lat on a butter when they need to la the butter on the breasts this 20% of the babies and the families going through a very hard times for me. The first people I wants to meet and I want to give them the opportunity to use this product. It’s this 20% of the babies then you have the rest the rest of the mothers that will give them break. You have managed the breastfeed and you know she wants to go to do yoga in the morning. In our case, she just can give the husband or the partner the button and it can it can feed the baby and when she’s coming back from a break she can keep breastfeeding. It’s not happening today because today if you give the baby a regular bottle. It’s almost 99% of the cases. It will never go back to the press. But it’s completely different snipping and completely differentlutch now our product they can go back and forth from the best to the butter for the but to the best so this is something. We’re really happy to see our mothers get the break and they go to do yoga or gym or whatever they want to do go with a coffee with a friend.
Shilo Ben Zeev: But still come back home and keep breastfeeding and secondly, it’s all the the support we’re be around this product that actually had the mother and the family running the dayto-day life. So that’s the vision from this part and if you ask me about the vision from the business side. So as I told you before I bid companies and sell companies and for me the the business idea is actually to set the company. My goal is in the next day twelve to 16 months to 1 of the big players that they can take it and actually make it worldwide a product and push it very out. A we build. The product will be the mass production 9 we launch in United States actually today today right now while we’re speaking we’re launching in Europe in 8 countries in Europe and we go and give every month to another hurrya. And hopefully in the next day twelve months I won’t and iop it to have a 5 to 10 percent of the market in the millions of families are happy. Yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love it now I Want to talk to you about the past but doing so with a lens of reflection. Let’s say I was to put you into a time machine Shilo and I bring you back in time to that moment where you were perhaps thinking about bringing your first company to life you know which was dar You let’s say.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: You have the opportunity of speaking to that younger self and you’re able to give that younger self that younger Shilo 1 piece of advice before launching a business. What would that be and why given what you know now.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Yeah I think the first day. The first advice I will give it to myself is don’t be scared. Everything will be fine and I will explain meaning whenever when you start your first company in the second and third you need money. And sometimes you you got the first round and you don’t have enough money and then you get scared. You need more money you have employees and what I’m going to do you don’t sleep. You’re going around like crazy I think the first advice I can give to myself and others. It will be fine if you have the good product and you have the right vision. You’re going to get the money so get scared and and not sleeping and you know walking ride like a zombie back then I even smoked a little bit so it’s like you know you keep smoking because you’re so stressful. No need if you have the right product. You did the right research and you can prove your vision. You going to get the money so keep focus on what you have and what you build and relax. It will be fine I think that’s the best advice I will give myself twenty years ago and I’ll give the entrepreneurs now if just make sure you have the right product. The rest will be fine.
Alejandro Cremades: That’s amazing I Love that was oh yeah, so Shilo 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.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Yeah, and find the right partner. That’s extremely important. Always find the right partner.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Mail mail SHA Ill O at emulla.com yeah
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing! Well hey, easy he know shitle. Thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today that has been an honor to have you with us.
Shilo Ben Zeev: Thank you very much for having me. Thank you so much goodbye.
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