Neil Patel

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Leor Catalan is an innovative founder whose story embodies curiosity, resilience, and relentless innovation. Join us as we delve into his remarkable trajectory, from his formative years in Tel Aviv to the helm of a global company with over 600 employees.

In this exclusive interview, Leor talks about building his startup and scaling it by reinvesting $100M worth of revenues as against raising from external investors.

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

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Early Years: Nurturing Curiosity in Tel Aviv

Leor’s childhood in Tel Aviv in the 80s and 80s, amidst the early age of personal computing and the internet age, laid the foundation for his insatiable curiosity.

Encouraged by supportive parents, he spent his days dismantling and rebuilding gadgets, nurturing an engineering mindset that would shape his future endeavors.

Leor remembers wanting to rethink how the gadgets were made with, perhaps, a better design. Despite his inclination towards architecture, Leor’s academic journey led him to explore business, economics, and law, keeping his options open for the diverse opportunities ahead.

Even during his academic studies, he wanted to learn as much of the world as possible and build international relationships beforehand. It seemed like the logical step to take. Eventually, after getting a degree in engineering, Leor was ready to start a career in corporate.

From Public Sector to Consulting: A Path of Impact

Embarking on a journey through the public sector, Leor gained invaluable insights into decision-making and its profound impact on society. His two-year tenure at the Ministry of Finance honed his ability to navigate complex challenges and make informed, responsible choices.

Transitioning to the consulting world, Leor immersed himself in solving intricate problems, laying the groundwork for his entrepreneurial aspirations. He spent five years at Deloitte Israel as the Head of Financial Advisory Services, helping with valuations.

This position helped shape Leor’s thought processes around resolving and addressing problems. He also worked closely with the management to solve problems and rebuild processes to bring information and discovery into decision-making.

In Leor’s opinion, consulting is a dynamic world since you can see so many industries quickly, solve problems, and work with fantastic people.

It’s about looking into the background of problems and assembling things that align with his childhood interests. The transition to the venture world was a natural segue.

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Venturing into Entrepreneurship: The Birth of PassportCard

The genesis of PassportCard emerged from a convergence of expertise and innovation. Inspired by a novel idea from a client in international health, Alon Ketzef, Leor seized the opportunity to revolutionize the insurance industry.

Leor remembers how Alon came up with the idea to make insurance easier for people by using or combining a debit card in claims payment. Alon offered Leor the opportunity to join the founding team and completely reverse how insurance is run by building PassportCard.

The duo set out to solve the inherent conflict between an insurance company and the insurance member. As a rule, insurance is a bad industry because, from the company’s perspective, paying claims means to incur losses, which is not in their interests.

To resolve this problem, Leor and Alon put the insured member in control of the process. By intertwining fintech with insurance, PassportCard empowered individuals to regain control over their insurance claims, bridging two disparate worlds with seamless efficiency.

The duo essentially wanted to create a new ecosystem where a person could walk into any service provider worldwide. Instead of paying out-of-pocket and then getting reimbursed, they can just hand out a debit card issued to them and pay for the claim.

A lot of logistics needed to be worked out for that to happen, including the engineering aspect, without compromising the controls that are critical for the insurance space.

The PassportCard Business Model

PassportCard controls the entire insurance ecosystem from A to Z, starting with selling insurance plans to members, mostly international health and travel Insurance.

It operates the entire business in a completely seamless way for the member. Members only deal with PassportCard and can avail of its benefits regardless of where they are in the world.

As Leor recalls, the first challenge was convincing two different industries and players in distinct ecosystems to collaborate and create a seamless product. He remembers walking into offices across the US and Europe and talking to different entities.

Although they were fantastic professionals, they didn’t understand what Leor and Alon were trying to achieve. Finding stakeholders was a long process, mostly in the financial services space after the credit crunch.

Challenges and Triumphs: Forging a Unique Path

After the recession, Leor and Alon faced doubt and pushback as they tried to change the insurance industry. They had to keep going and strongly believe in their goal to convince others to support their idea.

Instead of going down the conventional path of venture capital, PassportCard charted its course with self-reliance, reinvesting profits to fuel organic growth and innovation. As Leor describes, the business was quite unique and experienced hypergrowth.

PassportCard became well-established from a financial perspective, and this allowed Leor to start looking into different growth initiatives, including new ideas, products, and markets. The business also created significant cash flows that allowed them to invest heavily in new ventures.

Leor reveals how they ended up reinvesting more than $100M into the business. Disregarding the offers for investment, term sheets, and acquisition, Leor and Along continued to push on. Their objective was to bring value to their customers.

Leor Catalan was able to master the best strategies for funding his company. 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.

Cultivating a Culture of Innovation: A Testament to Values

PassportCard’s success is due to its focus on new ideas and customers. Leor’s strong dedication to creating a workplace where everyone’s ideas are heard and appreciated helped the company grow.

Even though it has grown a lot, PassportCard still acts like a small, new company with the goal of helping travelers around the world.

When training new recruits, the focus is on employees, members, shareholders, and partners. They inculcate the mindset of being dedicated to what they do and achieving the highest value for everyone involved.

As the company continued to grow, Leor and Alon started to broaden their product portfolio with car insurance and home insurance and growth into cross-border spaces.

This strategy created a methodology where they adopted a three-pronged approach: global expansion into new markets, constant building of new products, and incubator of new technologies.

That’s how PassportCard is dedicated to expanding the value proposition to its customers. The company is also focused on never taking anything for granted, which has become a part of its DNA. Leor does not believe in never taking answers from consultants or other people.

The company now has 600 employees and is constantly looking for strategies to expand its footprint, and this by itself creates a very flexible thinking that flows through the organization. They are constantly introducing new stuff, and people are constantly on their toes.

The company is all about creating a culture that goes all the way to the last and youngest person who was just recruited to join the team. They make sure their mindset, opinions, ideas, and the way they challenge what the company does is taken into account with every inch of seriousness.

Employees understand that they are partners in something bigger than each individual in the company, which makes them engaged and excited about playing the game. The vision is what keeps people rowing in the same direction.

Lessons Learned: Insights from the Entrepreneurial Odyssey

Reflecting on his journey, Leor imparts invaluable wisdom gleaned from years of entrepreneurial endeavor. He underscores the importance of focus, humility, and a relentless pursuit of customer feedback.

Because it’s all about the long-term relationship that they build with them, which will drive the best decisions.

In a world driven by constant change, Leor’s steadfast dedication to listening, learning, and adapting is a guiding light for aspiring entrepreneurs. This commitment makes PassportCard people’s first choice when they travel across borders.

The card is their point of confidence when they travel, and that’s what Leor and Alon are working toward. They are constantly adding more capabilities and services to fulfill that vision.

The Future Unfolds: A Vision of Empowerment

With a steadfast commitment to innovation and customer-centricity, Leor and his team are poised to shape the future of insurance and redefine the traveler experience.

In conclusion, Leor Catalan’s entrepreneurial journey is about the essence of resilience, innovation, and unwavering determination. From humble beginnings to global impact, his story inspires us to embrace curiosity, embrace challenges, and forge our path toward a brighter future.

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

  • Leor’s childhood curiosity laid the groundwork for his entrepreneurial journey, emphasizing the power of inquisitiveness in driving innovation.
  • Leor’s transition from the public sector to consulting underscores the value of diverse experiences in shaping entrepreneurial vision and strategy.
  • PassportCard’s approach to reinvesting profits over traditional venture capital highlights the importance of challenging conventional norms in business growth.
  • Leor’s emphasis on listening to customer feedback and fostering a culture of innovation underscores the significance of customer-centricity in business success.
  • PassportCard’s entrepreneurial spirit thrives on a culture of collaboration, where every team member’s voice is valued and contributes to the company’s evolution.
  • Leor’s emphasis on focus, humility, and adaptability serves as a guiding principle for navigating the dynamic landscape of entrepreneurship.
  • PassportCard’s vision of empowering travelers worldwide reflects Leor’s commitment to creating meaningful impact through innovation and customer empowerment.



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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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

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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