Founders, Makers, Doers — Adi Ronen
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 incredible Adi Ronen
A Brief Intro to Adi Ronen
Adi Ronen, CEO & Co-Founder of buywith.
Adi is a B2B and B2C digital marketing and e-commerce expert. She is an experienced corporate executive in product management and marketing. She was the manager of the Bloggers division at Tapuz — the Israeli ”Reddit”. Adi combines creative talent with strong commercial and business savvy and understanding. Her true passions are to create value with innovation and to move mountains.
How can you find Adi?
How can you find buywith?
10 Things You Never Knew About Adi Ronen
10. What I am working on right now
You know how sometimes it’s hard to decide whether or not to buy something online? Well, I established buywith two years ago, the idea behind it was to enable people to get opinions from their personal surroundings in order to help them make smart decisions whether or not to make a specific online purchase.
A year ago buywith was chosen to participate in the New York Fashion Tech Lab program. It was an amazing opportunity. One of the resounding takeaways from the experience was the decision to pivot the product. Right now I am working on a platform from which influencers, experts, celebrities and store representatives can host virtual shopping events with their followers on e-commerce sites, shop online and use their power to influence other consumers. Our clients — brands and retailers — are using buywith to launch new collections and sales via livestream shopping sessions, and to conduct livestreamed sessions with experts. This not only increases the ROI for online retailers and retail brands, but also helps them to sustain and nurture their following, to create strong user communities, stay engage with their audience virtually, and most important to monetise. Those things a crucial now more than ever during COVID-19.
This live-streaming trend began in China, and has a $63-billion-dollar market value. The trend is now making its way to Western culture. It is especially relevant and significant in light of the pandemic, and the upsurge in e-commerce. It is very exciting. This pivot was instrumental in helping us to raise our pre-seed round of $1 million dollars successfully.
We have paying clients from all over the world. The way it works is that the influencer can initiate a session from any e-commerce brand, invite his or her followers to the session and enable them to not only help the followers decide what to buy, but also to enable them to buy at the same time as well ask questions and put comments. The user experience is like Live Instagram but on the e-commerce site. Our next step is to build a platform like twitch for e-commerce.
I feel blessed and lucky to be doing what I am doing and to be working with an amazing team, including my one-of-a-kind partner & buywith's CTO, Eyal Sinai who is not only a gifted and experienced software developer, but also was the head of engineering of SAP Portals where he managed 100 software developers. Eyal knows to be hands-on and also how to lead teams and processes. In addition, we have an incredible passionate team with us including marketing, development, investors and advisors.
9. A few significant event(s) that has shaped my professional self
Wow. There are several events that are significant to me. Firstly, my entry to the New York Fashion Tech Lab. This really set the ball rolling for our startup. It enabled me to present the venture to very serious retailers and people in the business, who — in turn — helped me to define who are my “ideal customers” and to really hone in on our product market fit. This not only changed the direction of my business, but also helped me to grow personally. It forced me to out of my comfort zone. I moved to New York far from family and friends. Living alone in a new country forces you to become stronger and to deal with things head on. I feel like it was a real rite of passage.
If I am to go a few steps back, the decision to go into my own startup was also a very significant event. In my “previous” career I was an executive online marketer, and now I am an innovator and entrepreneur. These two things complement each other, but are worlds apart. Innovation is limitless. There are many risks, but there are so many opportunities for growth. I use all of the knowledge that I have gained in the past. I am grateful for my past experience, but on my new path, I have the place to shine. With persistence, grit and determination I have discovered that this is my destiny. I have no doubt that this is what I will continue to do. To innovate and grow. To be a serial entrepreneur.
8. The leadership trait that I admire the most
I have many people in my life that I have learnt from about leadership:
Eyal Sinai, my co-founder, has taught me that to be a leader is not to dictate or instruct, it is allowing people around you to be a part of the discussion and to influence the decision-making process.
From my husband Amit, I have learnt to be calm and collected. It is important to check your emotions at the door, to come in quietly, but with confidence. It shows your people and your investors that you are in control. It gives everyone around you confidence.
From my mother, (may she rest in peace), who worked in the high-tech industry as a software manager for many years, I have learnt to strive for excellence and to have a high work ethic. Success is important, but the journey is as important as the destination.
7. Something that I would do over if I could.
I believe that everything that I do, even mistakes that I make, like wrong choices of partners — there is always something to learn. These setbacks have lead me to where I am today, and I am grateful and happy for them. Mistakes are part of the process. When you are a first time founder you will make many mistakes. In the end these will turn you into who you are meant to become. Every scar and every mistake is a critical step in the road.
6. A few opportunities that propelled my career forward
My first role was at Tapuz — the Israeli reddit. It was an amazing position which set me out to discover and work in the world of Internet, media, advertising and marketing. The first door that is opened for you is the hardest to open. I appreciate that someone opened the door for me and I am happy that I am now in the position to open these doors to buywith's employees.
As time passed, I was promoted within Tapuz, and got the ownership of defining and managing the blogger vision, strategy and community for the company. This experience was invaluable for understanding the influencer and content creators' community and gave me a wealth of experience in product management that we harness in buywith.
At the beginning of my road to innovation. I did an Entrepreneurship course set up by the Israeli Ministry of Economy, where I learnt about innovation and how to establish a startup via the Lean Startup methodology. The more I learnt, the more I felt connected and the more I got excited. I began to feel that this is what I want to do. It was a sort of an epiphany to realize that this is what I wanted. I was also surrounded by people who believed in me and encouraged me.
I left my day job and started a journey that has changed my life forever. The journey is never simple, but that is part of what makes success so much more rewarding.
5. What motivates me the most
I have faced many obstacles: crises with co-founders, ups and downs, but I never gave up. I surround myself with people that I love and appreciate. Each time I face an obstacle, I find my people and get strength from them – and vice versa! When a friend needs my help and advice – I am always there. I am motivated by the communities of founders and innovators who support one another and give sympathy and advice.
For instance, so many entrepreneurs struggle to find investors and we reach a critical point wherein we need to make vital decisions: to change direction or to change the makeup of the team, etc. The people who love and support you will motivate you to press forward during those crucial times. We should understand that the road is challenging, because we are doing something new and irregular. We are doing something that no one else has done before us. We are – in many ways – changing the world. It wouldn’t be a challenge if it has already been done.
4. The most challenging professional obstacle(s) I have overcome
One of the most challenging things that every entrepreneurs will agree on is to fundraise. To sell the vision in such a way that professional people will invest in you. By the way, success is not just in the investment – investment and money are only the tools you get to build your company and create value. The key for fundraising is knowing how to leverage the momentum of the moment in order to proceed optimally.
Working with investors is about creating a relationship. You can’t put on a show and then disappear: you need to get people to believe in you and your leadership abilities. Investment can be seen as a gamble, so entrepreneurs need to reduce the risks and to prove that they have what it takes to lead and grow the company.
3. A few words to people beginning their professional career
I have been a mentor on the subject of innovation in a program for gifted students, and they asked me the same question. What I told them is to think long term and to strive for actualisation. We tend to spend too much time on quick gains and fire-fighting. This invariably leads us to being stuck: in the same place, position, pay grade. We need to have the courage to imagine beyond this. For me this means doing something I am passionate about. I love coming to work. It never feels like a job, and I don’t stare at my watch wishing the time will just pass already. If you aim for self-actualization you will have a life-long pursuit – not just a job.
2. Something that I would like to learn in the future
buywith started with two founders. We now have seven people and we need to grow some more. What I would like is to grow with my company more and more on its way to success. To learn how to optimally bring my company from stage to stage, from strength to strength. I feel like I have been very lucky that my skills are matched with the needs of the company, My goal is always be a few steps ahead in order to scale the company and our growth.
1. The question that I wish someone would ask me…
How did you manage to do a successful pivot and not break before your venture became successful?
And, the answer to that question is...
Determination. Never give up. Be adaptable. Meet the market, listen to it, change and measure. Face challenges with true grit and resilience. That’s how it is done.