PV LP Q&A Interview with Yishay Waxman

Yishay Waxman is a Senior Executive and entrepreneur with successful experience building and managing business operations at early and late stage companies, both domestically and internationally. His areas of expertise include Sales, Marketing, Business Development and Corporate Development. Today, Yishay is an active investor, start-up advisor, and President & Co-Founder of Platterz.

Previously, Yishay was part of the founding team at JumpTap, Inc. In his role as Senior Vice President of Business & Corporate Development, Yishay helped to scale the company to over $100M in sales prior to exiting to Millennial Media for $240M. He later went on to become the Director of Sales at Comverse (Nasdaq 100).

Yishay Waxman

Yishay Waxman

Co-Founder & President


Yishay Waxman is a senior executive and entrepreneur with successful experience building and managing business operations at early and late stage companies, both domestically and internationally. His areas of expertise include Sales, Marketing, Business Development and Corporate Development. Today, Yishay is an active investor, start-up advisor, and President & Co-Founder of Platterz.

Q: What is your technology investment thesis? How does PV fit in?

A: My investment thesis is to invest in people before ideas. Each time I’ve lost out on an investment opportunity that would have been very financially worthwhile for me, it’s been a consequence of not betting on the people. I hated the idea, so I allowed the people to walk away. Unfortunately for me, those people went on to pivot a few times and eventually got the idea right. If I had focused on the bigger picture and bet on the people, I would have won. Big time. It’s been a good education.

PV approaches investments very differently than I do. I like that the team doesn’t make 100 bets and wait to see if maybe 5 will stick. Instead, their funds make 5 bets that are supported by thorough due diligence of the management teams and companies. The PV partners are also very hands on with the companies that they work with. They don’t bite off more than they can chew. If you’re investing in 100 companies in one fund, how can you be effective in helping the entrepreneurs? PV’s thesis allows them to truly get involved and help their entrepreneurs, whether it’s with hiring or recruiting, strategic partnerships or additional funding down the road. This model is not for every entrepreneur, but it seems to work for the companies within PVs portfolio.

I really like the PV model, the team, and the fact that other folks that I know and am friends with are also invested in the funds. I also love the opportunity for follow-on funding in companies.

Q: You recently completed a Series A funding round (US $15M led by Aleph). Can you tell me about your capital raising strategy, and how it shaped your experience during the fundraise? What advice do you have for companies looking to complete their Series A?

A: I’ve had past experience raising capital and went into this Series A round looking for “smart money”, meaning who can I bring in that will add real value. Sourcing capital is easier today than it was 10 years ago, so finding the right VC or strategic partner was crucial.

I asked the following questions of the VCs that I spoke with. First and foremost, do they have enough capital to support us during our Series B round? We are a long-term play. We have a huge vision and plan to scale quickly. Our Series B is well within site, so it is critical that our partners are able to support us through our next round of financings. Second, can they bring additional partners to the B round that may be able to create value outside of Canada? Third, can they help to grow our team by providing assistance with recruiting? We are currently an organization of 65 employees in five cities, but plan to expand to 100+ individuals in at least two new cities by year end. Examining my investors reach and networks in the cities that Platterz plans to tap into next was a prerequisite.

One piece of advice that I have for companies for Series A financing is to do your homework and validate who your board members are. Don’t be afraid to call other companies that have worked with prospective investors to ask about their experiences and to learn whether or not they added any value to the board seat. Talk to people. You need to know what you’re getting into. And if you feel like it’s not the right fit, remember to put your business first. It’s not personal. You need to do what is right for the company.

Q: You’ve had a successful career and have held a number of different roles. What do you consider to be the DNA of a winning team, and how do you hire talent to complement your strengths and weaknesses?

A: The DNA of a good team is unique to every company. In order to build a strong team, the management team needs to evaluate how their company is structured. At Platterz, we are set up as a tech software company. On one side of the house we have our technical team, and on the other, our business team. The fabric of both teams is different.

While it is important to have qualified tech people, I always like to ensure that these individuals are entrepreneurial in spirit. Maybe they’ve tried a start-up in the past and failed, or maybe they have an idea that they plan to execute on when the timing is right. I think they individuals can benefit greatly from gaining practical experience.

When hiring individuals on the business side, I look at the characteristics of the person, not their degree. Are they driven? Are they able to manage themselves and get things done on their own?

That gives you a bit of a sense of how we hire. With respect to the actual DNA of the team, I expect everyone on our team to leave their egos at the door. I like confident, self-driven and motivated individuals that contribute to the greater good of the team. We’re all in this together and building our platform together.

Q: As a start-up advisor, what metrics do you use to evaluate the companies that you devote your time to, and what value do you add to emerging companies?

A: I’ve had more failures than successes in angel investing. Early on, my biggest mistake was falling in love with the idea before the team. I got caught up with the product and neglected to observe what was behind the scenes and who was running the idea. In many cases, I invested in co-founders that were too similar and it always had the same outcome: disaster. Management needs to be comprised of individuals with complementary skillsets. If teams don’t bring differing perspectives to the table then it is very challenging for them to make decisions.

From the failures I’ve learned and shifted my approach to investing. Now, if at least one individual from the core team has not sold and scaled in the past, I choose to walk away. I want to see another Yishay Waxman on the other side of the table. Someone who has gone door-to-door and fought tooth and nail for their company.

I think the value I bring to my advisory roles is the twenty years of business relationships that I have built. I’m happy to pick up the phone to introduce companies to executives that they might otherwise not gain access to. My level of involvement varies. With some companies I’m relatively hands off, and with others I play a more active role. I like to help with funding, structuring on valuations and cap tables, and identifying strategic partners.

“Great founders understand when it’s time to put up the white flag. The ability to let go is critical.”

– Yishay Waxman

Q: What attributes do you feel are the most important in a successful leader? What sets apart a good entrepreneur from a great entrepreneur?

A: In my opinion, good leaders are individuals that have an open door policy and are perceived by their colleagues as being accessible. Often, people try too hard to separate their personal and professional lives. While I don’t pry, I make myself available to my team. I recognize that everyone has personal pain points and struggles, and I’m happy to share my experiences, advice and support when people need it. Building relationships and good rapport is important to me.

I also think good entrepreneurs encourage their employees to fail and grow. I want my employees to make their own decisions and to take ownership of the consequences. That is the only way that they can learn and become an even more vital addition to your company.

As for great entrepreneurs, understanding when to put the white flag up is very important. Time and time again, entrepreneurs get stuck on their ideas even when market validation is not there. They keep going and don’t know how to let go. I think great entrepreneurs have to be able to take a step back, recognize that their passion is not resonating with others, and move on. The ability to let go is critical. On the flip side, if something is sticking, I encourage entrepreneurs to not get too excited. Continue to take small bites of the apple, one step at a time.

Q: What has been the toughest professional challenge you have overcome to date?

A: I take things personally. I’m a people person. I value the relationships that I build and always try to treat people fairly. But sometimes in business you have to do what is right for the needs of your business, not yourself or the other party. So learning how to separate the personal from the professional has been a challenge.

I think another professional challenge, especially in a start-up setting, is focus. As entrepreneurs and leaders we have so many distractions. I am inundated by partnership opportunities, and people who want to utilize Platterz for this, that and the other. So, staying on track and taking small bites of the apple as a business owner is challenging because there are so many distractions.

Q: What has been the best piece of career advice that you have received and how have you implemented that advice into practice?

A: Don’t burn bridges. Twenty years ago, a wise man told me, “try not to screw people along the way… karma’s a bitch”. It was probably the best advice I’ve ever received and I’ve stayed true to that course throughout my life. If you don’t screw people along the way, you will sleep better with yourself at night. Be genuine, true to who you are, and recognize that opportunities perceived as missed may come back around when the timing is right. I try to instill this within my team.


Yishay Waxman - Platterz Logo

About Platterz

Platterz is a corporate catering platform designed for ordering and sharing delicious food platters in just three clicks. Platterz makes it incredibly easy for businesses and consumers to order large dishes online from different restaurants and caterers.

Visit the Platterz website and follow them on Twitter.

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