Hi, I'm Iris. After two successful startups, I'm busy growing Oribi, a startup I founded and am CEO of, Backed by top VCs - Sequoia and TLV partners.

Have you ever noticed that while every startup thinks it's disruptive, they all look and behave the same?

The goal of this blog is to rethink culture, marketing, product and HR. It's time to face the fact that some of the things we've been doing for years just don't work.

Why “You need to let go” is a crappy advice

The Organizational Culture of the Startup world operates under pretty explicit rules. One of the most often preached rules is “You need to learn how to let go”.

 

Letting go = good

The more independence the employees get = the better

A CEO getting caught up in the details = bad

Micromanagement = even worse.

Is it surely the right thing for the company and its employees? Not necessarily.

Not letting go is not about ego, but rather about the company’s vision.  

I was always involved in all of the company’s fields- starting with almost every detail in the product, all the way to its development. But, I was also constantly trying to ‘let go’.

Not ‘letting go’ is usually seen as indicating an inflated ego as well as the inability to trust others and as almost petty meddling with insignificant details. I was always finding myself caught in the tension between making sure that everything is perfectly fitted to the company’s vision and trying to ‘let go’. In the past couple of months I decided to stop doing that and went back to a hands-on approach. I’m back to designing the product, running the marketing, and mostly allowing myself to be more ‘petty’ and to not approve anything that doesn’t feel right for the company.

We’re all struggling with lack of time. Every CEO of a Startup company is left at any given moment with way too many things to do, usually an almost endless list of truly important tasks. Actually, it’s also true for every manager and employee at a Startup. When there’s a section of the company that functions wonderfully without me it frees a significant amount of my time that allows me to focus on other important issues and I really appreciate it. So, why nevertheless shouldn’t one just ‘let go’ a large part of the company’s sections and focus only on the most crucial things?

I think that the basic premise about ‘letting go’ is wrong. The assumption is that if you choose not to, it means you don’t trust others enough. My perspective is completely different — no one else has the accurate vision of how all the parts of the puzzle should fit together. There’s a profound difference between ‘good work’ and what is precisely right for the company at the moment.

Ever thought why it’s so crucial to keep the original entrepreneurs a part of the company? Why it’s difficult to replace an entrepreneur with a CEO who’s an outsider when the company’s in its early stages? Why no investor invests solely in the idea itself but mostly in who is going to bring it to life?

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A company blog isn’t relevant anymore.

And why hardly anybody managed to nail it during the last couple of years.

 Knowing what the new trends are, is always important – just as important as knowing what’s not working anymore.

 I practice marketing from all different angles – from paid acquisition to branding. Content has always been my favorite part. It has a magical combination of creativity, providing real value and being data-driven. Throughout my 3 startups, I’ve built a blog for developers which attracted more than 200K unique visitors a month- a successful personal blog, a Facebook page with over 500K organic followers and much more.

Content ≠  Blog

Why did all companies start blogging?
Content is still the king. But in most cases, a company blog is a waste of time. There are better paradigms to produce content. Let’s start with the bottom line. Content works well but the format of a blog is limiting and not relevant anymore.

A few major trends have changed the content marketing landscape in the last couple of years:

  • Google’s algorithm constantly evolves. A few years back, it was enough for good organic traffic to buy links, use the right terms on your homepage and select the right headers. But it has reached a point where in order to rank high, companies need to produce content. The rise of content marketing was mainly due to Google becoming ‘smarter’. Simple ‘cheats’ didn’t work anymore and companies had to start writing high-quality content to get organic traffic.
  • Social media used to be one of the main traffic sources. About 7 years ago, 40% of the traffic to my site was from Facebook and Twitter. Today, unless you’re using paid acquisition, traffic from social media will be close to zero. It means companies had to look for reasonable alternatives.
  • All companies have a blog. Giving new companies the impression that it’s mandatory to have one.
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Goodbye, pizza and beer. Hello, personal growth. Why feeding your employees won’t make them stay.

I love the startup ecosystem, and I’m proud to be part of it. But there are definitely a few parts of it that I resent. When I founded Oribi, it was important for me to not only identify those parts, but also, more importantly, to figure out what I was going to do about it.

The first thing I decided to change is the superficial and “cheap” ways in which companies buy their employees: pizza, beer, a stocked refrigerator, ice cream, fancy parties, massages. I feel that all of that is a legacy companies carry from 15 years ago, without really knowing why.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve interviewed over 300 candidates for different positions. Developers, marketers, designers, product managers. I’ve heard from 300 different people on why they decided to move on, to take a bold step and seek out their next challenge. What I’ve found is that it’s almost always about personal and professional development. About not getting stuck.

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Stop using Personas. And holding too many user interviews

One of my favorite things about being an entrepreneur is that every year the center of gravity of the company changes and so does my focus. So every year or so I change hats, from marketing to product, from sales to management. The last year has definitely been ‘the year of the product’. I changed lots of my current product management perspectives and finally said goodbye to some methods that should have been long gone.

Why using personas and interviewing users can lead your product to fail?

One of the main frog leaps I had in marketing was understanding that people are complex. Much more than we can predict. There’s no way we can actually place them in boxes.

Marketers love spending days (and nights) sharpening the messaging, picking the right words to tell the story of the product. The basic assumption is that people want a product which will help them to do X. The reality is that people act from much deeper motives – and it’s usually not just what they need.

In marketing, you don’t really have to understand what makes people tick. There are A/B tests and the ability to run multiple experiments, even with limited resources.  

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Rethinking startup office design – why did we close up the open space and opened up the meeting room?

One of the most significant decisions in developing a company’s culture relates to the division of office space. Office planning is an issue I’m passionate about. One of the reasons is probably my background as an architect, but the main reason I find it so important is that I’ve seen the huge difference it makes and how a different space generates a different culture.

Open space, division into offices, team-based division, mixed offices, a small or a big kitchen – each one of these decisions will probably affect the way the company functions.

The myth of ‘the CEO who sits in the open space’, and what is an open meeting room

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Every now and then, I'm sharing my perspectives on the startup world.
It's always relevant & never BS.

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