Founders, Makers, Doers — Yael Oppenheim
Founders, Makers, Doers is a series of blogs about incredible people who are key players and leaders of significant change, ventures and initiatives. Can't you just feel the energy? Today: the wonderful Yael Oppenheim
Who is Yael Oppenheim?
I am the founder of FitMyTime, a platform for remote personal fitness and yoga classes. I am also a market and user researcher, and I specialize in utilizing social and digital data for qualitative and quantitative research. My work includes planning and executing research projects that are aimed at helping brands, organizations and startups identify their audiences and their needs and understand their competitive landscape.
10 Things You Never Knew About Yael Oppenheim
10. What I am working on right now
Right now, I am working on FitMyTime, which is a global marketplace for online live personal fitness and yoga classes. We connect trainers and trainees from around the world for online live one-on-one fitness and yoga workouts. Unlike the majority of online fitness portals, we offer live and not pre-recorded lessons.
We believe that receiving real time feedback and personally tailored sessions benefits both teacher and student alike. Imagine working out with a YouTube trainer that not only tells you what to do but also sees you, gives you a personal feedback, and you can consult them and ask questions during the workout – just like an in-place personal training – only this is online.
Our mission is to enable people to exercise with a personal trainer from the comfort of their home - anywhere, anytime. For instructors, we offer a simple and effective way to expand their work opportunities, so they can focus on what they love to do.
9. Some significant events that have shaped my professional self
Serving as an officer in the army – I served for almost 5 years in the IDF (Israeli Defense Force), most of them as an officer. I had the privilege to serve with inspiring people, who set an example for me and taught me a lot about leadership.
Deciding to take a leap and start a startup. I took the bootstrap way, which really forced me to be very focused and carefully validate each assumption I have about the market and the users.
8. The leadership trait that I admire the most
I admire a leader who knows how to empower subordinates, providing them with mentorship and the resources and support they need to achieve their objectives. This also means giving people a chance to take responsibility in order to learn and grow.
7. Something that I would do over if I could.
As Edith Piaf sings – “Je ne regrette rien”. I think that regrets are not very productive in general (except maybe for their learning value). I think that everything that we do has value and happens for a reason.
6. A few opportunities that have propelled my career forward
For the past few years I have been privileged to work with various types of organizations – private companies, corporations, NGOs, startups and government institutions – helping them to find solutions to many types of problems. Some projects are focused on increasing profits, and some are focused on finding solutions to national problems in society. Since each project is different – different types of industries, different types of users etc., I have learnt a lot from each one of those research projects, and I have met great people along the way. Each project has been an opportunity to learn and grow.
Joining the WeWork labs project – I joined “WeWork labs” (WeWork’s program for startups) in order to work on FitMyTime, after winning at a WeWork’s pitch contest. It was a great experience, and I got to meet amazing entrepreneurs and mentors who really helped me to grow and develop my startup. The power of the community created around this program is extremely valuable.
5. What motivates me the most
I am motivated when I am in an environment that challenges me. I need to constantly be outside of my comfort zone and doing things that arouse my curiosity. I love to analyze things, to meet new people, to learn from data, and to grow from experience. Any work that involves continuous learning and research that has practical aspects and that influences and impacts people are all huge motivators for me.
4. The most challenging professional obstacle I have overcome
In general, I try to see challenges as opportunities. The path that I have chosen for myself usually involves several challenges simultaneously. I guess I need to be doing a few things in parallel. I have done research and consultancy alongside academic studies (I am currently working on my PhD.) and alongside building a startup. It is all very exciting and fulfilling, but it can also be hard to balance. It is a challenge to set boundaries between the different activities and to know how to properly divide time and energy between different professional pursuits.
3. A few words to people beginning their professional career
The most important thing about building a career is building relationships. Find ways to be around and work with inspiring people. It is hard to choose the right profession and the right job. Your field of interest may change many times throughout your career. But, if you are surrounded by people who inspire you and provide you mentorship, you will make better choices and you will enjoy the ride.
Always remember the importance of endurance. Most of the time, most things will not succeed. It’s a statistical fact. What does succeed is usually determined by the endurance of the person who is behind the concept. The more obstacles you face, the more practiced you get in dealing with them. I always recall the story about the “Aeron” office chair. This was a new type of office chair that became popular in the 90s. When it was made it looked different. It was “ergonomic” – a new concept. People called it ugly. Corporations wouldn’t buy it. All research indicated the “Aeron” chair should fail. But, the manufacturers remained obstinately determined and in the end the market changed and came to them.
2. Something that you would like to learn in the future
I would love to deepen my knowledge about yoga and meditation. The need for FitMyTime came from a personal pain point: when I was on the go, I couldn’t find a way to do any professionally supervised yoga. I came from the standpoint of a consumer. Now that I am building the marketplace, I am immersed and I’d love to learn more.
1. The question that I wish someone would ask me…
What is a characteristic of some people and organizations that I don’t like to see?
And, the answer to that question is...
I don’t like it when people or organizations as a whole are dogmatic. This is a restrictive and limiting quality. Imagining that something can only be done in one way, researched in one way, sold in one way, designated for only one type of audience – that’s very short-sighted.