Photo Credit: Courtesy
Hillel Fuld at an NCSY events in New York.

Hillel Fuld has always been passionate about technology. After graduating with a degree in political science, he found himself writing user manuals for a large company, which he admits is not an optimal career choice for someone with ADHD.

At the time, Fuld started a tech blog. It was still in the early days of blogging, and his blog blew up. Israeli tech entrepreneurs reached out to him for marketing advice. He provided advice, free of charge, thereby exceeding their expectations. Subsequently, some of these entrepreneurs requested a client-based relationship, and Fuld began to build his marketing business.

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Today Fuld wears many hats. For one, he advises a gamut of businesses – from startups to multinational corporations to non-profits, banks, and even venture capital firms – on company growth, specifically in the realm of PR, social media, content creation, business development and fundraising.

He also contributes to a variety of publications, including Tech Crunch, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, Calcalist and the Jerusalem Post. He began a Vlog four years ago to acquaint his listeners with the founders and executives behind well-known Israeli tech companies, and he hosts a podcast called Bootstrap.

Fuld is also a sought-after public speaker, and more recently became a corporate ambassador, promoting products from his ambassadorships, such as the Google Developer Program, to his audience.

I spoke to Fuld from his home in Israel to learn more about his work and to hear his insights into the tech startup world.

On Startups: I wanted to understand what differentiates a successful company from a mediocre company. Since Fuld advises a myriad of startups, I wondered if there were some elements a startup could incorporate to help create a formula for success.

According to Fuld, the biggest mistake entrepreneurs make is neglecting to do comprehensive competitive analysis and thorough market research. They have what they believe is a phenomenal idea, and they’re gung-ho about implementing it. While passion is admirable, Fuld suggests entrepreneurs take a month or so to get to know their competition.

Another crucial element for success is creating a ten-second “elevator pitch.” Fuld advises entrepreneurs to determine the one thing that will cause an investor FOMO (“fear of missing out”). This can be anything from the product, the team, the technology, the market, or any other quality that stands out about the company.

The key, Fuld explains, is to create a pitch that gets the listener to identify with the problem, and to subsequently explain how the business intends to solve said problem. Hence, starting a pitch with, “We have an algorithm,” may lead to a loss of interest, whereas saying something along the lines of, “Remember yesterday, you lost your daughter at the park, or you landed at the airport and couldn’t find your suitcase,” will most probably cause listeners to nod their heads as they identify with the pain point.

Fuld also strongly encourages entrepreneurs to build and maintain business relationships. He suggests entrepreneurs spend considerable time networking, even if it’s merely receiving feedback on their products from those already in the industry – after all, one door can lead to many others.

Fuld is well aware that some might find his final piece of advice somewhat controversial. Nevertheless, he notes the earlier a business raises capital, the bigger stake goes to investors, since they’re assuming risk, and he therefore recommends avoiding external investors early on, whenever possible.

On Comparing Yesterday’s, Today’s and Tomorrow’s Tech: The tech industry is an immensely different space than when Fuld began his tech blog a decade and a half ago. I wanted to understand how Fuld views its evolution and what he believes the future will bring.

For one, Fuld believes that the tech market is highly saturated. Entrepreneurs who have an idea for a product today can safely assume it has already been done in some form. Fuld doesn’t necessarily think the noise is a bad thing, although it makes it more difficult for a company to stand out.

Another difference, he says, is that valuations are much higher than they were 14 years ago. Tech companies are achieving numbers and scale like never seen before.

As for the future, Fuld expects “the next big thing” to be drones and a more sophisticated form of human-computer interaction. He believes our fraternization with our phones, which look like slabs of glass in the palms of our hands, will be seen as primitive and archaic in a few years, and instead we’ll be using some sort of wearable device that enables us to interact with our computers more intuitively.

On Interviews: Among the people Fuld considers most inspirational are two legends that have had a deep impact on the tech and business worlds: Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, and Marc Andreesen, investor and inventor of the first widely-used web browser.

Fuld shared some lesser-known stories these individuals recounted to him. For example, Wozniak told him about the time a teacher came into the garage where Apple started to ask for a computer for her students. Steve Jobs, another co-founder, declined the request. Wozniak disagreed. Jobs still refused, so Wozniak took money out of his own pocket and bought the computer he had just built to give to the teacher.

Another example: While Andreesen invests in Israeli ventures, his company has a “one office rule” (Silicon Valley), and he doesn’t have an official presence in the Jewish state. However, Fuld noted that Andreesen mentioned to him, when his company decides to open a second office, it will be in Tel Aviv.

Mental Health: Fuld is passionate about mental health. From a business perspective, mental health is one of the few industries that tech hasn’t yet disrupted. However, Fuld purports that some of the Israeli tech companies focusing on mental health are producing incredible products and/or services.

On a personal level, Fuld’s brother, Ari Fuld, hy”d, was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2018. Before collapsing, he chased and shot the terrorist, thereby ensuring he wouldn’t injure others. This horrific tragedy, coupled with Covid, propelled Fuld towards the mental health field. Fuld recognized the pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges in a general sense, and he felt he had a choice. He could either sweep his mental health challenges under the rug, or he could use his platform to de-stigmatize mental health. He chose the latter.

In Fuld’s opinion, we will have reached full de-stigmatization when it will be as acceptable for a person to say he is declining a dinner invite because he is sad as it would be for him to say he is declining a dinner invite due to a broken leg.

Final Thoughts: As our interview winded down, Fuld shared that, prior to Covid, he looked to work with companies that produced solid products or services and had good, smart people at the helm. Today, he says, the most important thing to him is working with good people who have a long-term vision and an impactful and meaningful mission.

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Bracha Halperin is a business consultant based in new York City. To comment on her Jewish Press-exclusive tech columns -- or to reach her for any other purpose -- e-mail her at brachahalperin@hotmail.com. You can also follow her on Instagram or Twitter at: @brachahalperin.