Business Management

An outsider's road to entrepreneurship: How I moved my company from the Middle East to the East Coast

Doron Gordon, successful entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Samanage, shares his experience of expanding his business from Israel to the US.

While the United States is the global nexus of innovation, the dream of entrepreneurship reaches every corner of the world and from a half a world away, it seems baked into our DNA, too.

As an entrepreneur from Israel, the experience of starting a company and migrating that company to the United States has provided me with a unique understanding of how to better support new entrepreneurs in their desire and efforts to expand their own businesses.

It may sound surprising, but just like the US, Israeli entrepreneurship is the norm not the exception. Israel is known as a “startup nation,” rivaling the US new company birth rate and boasting more companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange than any country outside the US. As I looked to build an innovative global company, there have been three steps I have taken to make this dream become a reality.

The beginning: Entrepreneurial culture in the Middle East

Israeli entrepreneurs looking to break into US markets have a slightly different path to entrepreneurship. The Israeli entrepreneurial culture originates from a military-based education instead of a formal collegiate path that is commonly found in Western societies.

My passion for technology started in elementary school and significantly accelerated during my service with the Israel Defense Forces in an elite computer unit. After completing my service, the military experience and friendships developed helped me forge my own strategic framework for building a company and leading a team of highly-qualified engineers to create amazing products.

From a business standpoint, a military-based education instills a profound sense of responsibility. I remember as a fresh recruit being given the keys to large scale mainframe systems and being told, “It’s all your responsibility now. Don’t break anything.” This went a long way toward shaping my young mind. Through experiences like this, not only did I learn how to handle enormous responsibilities, but I was also able to align my own actions with a much greater purpose.

It taught me to be tenacious when life demanded that I step up and that giving up is never an option. It’s this same self-reliance that stays with me today as a CEO of an emerging company, an attitude that is shared by other top-level CEOs and progressive innovators.

The business idea: Finding an industry need

While the initial path of entrepreneurship may vary from continent to continent, the need to find and fill a void in the market remains universal. Entrepreneurs should leverage their own personal experience, educational background and resources to assess where the biggest needs lie.

When it came to starting my own company -- Samanage -- my military experience showed me how to think about bringing improvements to existing business processes, especially when it applied to modernizing IT management. For example, it was clear there was an industry need for IT service management that was built in a way to address the key issue of delivering greater visibility into all of the services within an enterprise. That’s how we were born.

Customer feedback is pivotal to growth. We listened well. From that kind of intelligence, we were able to create an agile approach to being hyper-responsive to customer needs, creating a framework that enables us to turn around fixes and updates in a way that was previously prohibitive, if not impossible.

Finding the right new home

Once we developed a product that was responsive to the industry needs of Israeli enterprises, we knew it was time to build a go-to-market arm that would allow us to start acquiring new customers in our primary target market - the United States. Like many other Israeli companies, we established a significant operation to broaden our reach.

Moving to the US was designed to get us closer to the customers and ensure that we are tuned into their requests, as well as to lower costs to the company by having greater access to resources that would sustain the business and increase the exposure to investors and funding opportunities in America.

Despite the technology glamour of Silicon Valley and New York City, it was more important to find a place where our company could disrupt and stand out as a market leader. Equally important was finding a region with an established technology acumen, universities to feed the job pool and a low cost, high-quality living standard to help recruit top-tier talent.

Analyzing all of these components led our company to Raleigh, NC. The city and its surrounding areas are a technology and innovation hotbed with vibrant access to high-quality tech talent, prominent universities and established tech giants such as Cisco, Lenovo, EMC, NetApp and Red Hat. Although our technical team remains in Israel, our executives have formed an exceptional team that calls Raleigh home. To stay involved with the customer facing teams on a daily basis, hear what prospective customers are saying about the product, and understand how the team is building partnerships and company culture, I made the move to North Carolina, along with my family. Overall, our decision to base US operations in North Carolina has helped our company successfully grow our American presence.

To present and future Israeli entrepreneurs with a startup journey ahead of them, my best advice is to know that starting a business and leading it into new international markets is a very difficult task. You’re going to have days where you start at the top of the roller coaster then in the afternoon you’re at the bottom. I say - simply focus on the big picture and know that the top is coming around again.



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