Yoav Schwartz is the CEO and co-founder of Uberflip. A unique combination of a creative and analytical thinker, Yoav has combined his love of technology with his inherent talent for product and design for over two decades. Dynamic speaker, a product architect, thought leader, and amateur musician, Yoav truly believes in the power of delighting customers through innovation and content. In his spare time, Yoav likes to kick back with one of his guitars in hand.
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Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Yoav Schwartz: Uberflip is the leading, cloud-based Content Experience Platform (CEP) that empowers marketing and sales teams to create engaging, relevant content destinations quickly for every campaign, audience, and stage of the customer journey in their business. One of our latest priorities is a huge migration project. We rebuilt the main front-end technology, so it’s better for SEO and it’s faster. It also introduces the capability of templating and leveraging Uberflip out of the box with very little upfront work, which was one of our core issues. Before, you could leverage Uberflip effectively, but to get started required a lot of finicky work to get everything on brand and looking exactly the way our customers wanted it to. Now customers can gain really quick benefits and value out of the platform. It’s an exciting next step in our journey.
Another exciting milestone is that Forrester and Aragon have recently recognized Content Experience as a category of software. As the pioneers of it, we’re of course leading this category. This recognition is a really impressive milestone in our story. Content Experience is now widely accepted as a category of software, which is really, really exciting.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Yoav Schwartz: Why we’re succeeding and continuing is really just perseverance, especially at the early part of a journey. There are just so many reasons to quit. When I got started with the predecessor of Uberflip, it got to a point where I was basically the last man standing. I was doing everything from software development to technical support, to running credit cards, to just about anything. At one point, we were hosted in a colocation facility and I had to literally go and steal my own servers back from a facility that was holding our servers ransom.
Our database was sitting there and it was about to be lights out on the business. It was quite an experience. It was definitely a moment where it would have just been very easy to give up. At the end of the day, it’s about perseverance.
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Yoav Schwartz: The most obvious one that always hits home is founders trying to perfect the first version of their product. It’s a futile exercise because you’re never going to get it right. Maybe your first version is not what you wanted to put out there, but you would have gotten crucial feedback and you’d be a lot further now versus waiting.
Another mistake is that you can’t sell a new category product to the SMB market. If you’re a category creator and you’re trying to break into a market, it’s almost impossible to do that with a lower-priced product since no one is searching for it. For example, if you want to have SaaS revenue where you’re just charging $100 a month, you need a very established category with various established players where you’re offering something slightly better than your competitors and therefore millions of people are searching for what you do on a daily basis.
Initially, we made that mistake trying to start out as a freemium and low-cost option, but really the volume wasn’t there. Over time we organically moved upmarket and started charging a more substantial amount. However, there’s obviously a balance there because you can’t charge big dollars for an immature product.
Resilience is critical in critical times like the ones we are going through now. How would you define resilience?
Yoav Schwartz: I define resilience as perseverance. It’s the ability to keep moving forward and finding a reason to be optimistic. As entrepreneurs, we carry a lot of optimism almost to a fault because where everybody sees the end, we see the beginning. That’s one of those key ingredients that you need to have because each day is going to punch you in the face with a new issue and you need to be able to adjust the course.
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Yoav Schwartz: We saw an opportunity to help marketers create experiences and to help them personalize all the different demand gen campaigns and ABM programs that they’re putting out there, and a CMS just wasn’t going to cut it. That’s really why we created this category of Content Experience. How do you manage the infinite source of content? How do you dynamically personalize for all of your different audiences and segments? How do you do this without IT? We created the category, but we’re not alone in it anymore. We have a lot of competitors or ankle biters who are trying to break into our space, which is actually great because we need more people screaming “content experience” for it to grow.
What separates us from them, aside from the fact that we pioneered this space, is we really built ourselves as a platform. The first thing you do with Uberflip is you bring in all your sources of content. We brought in all of your content and created a standard way of viewing it no matter where it came from, because ultimately what we care about is our customer’s customer experience. If we want our customers to be successful, we need to provide a really great user experience using Uberflip with the characteristic of being a platform that really normalizes all forms of content and provides a way to bring them all in. Being able to add content from various sources separates us from the pack.
The other major difference is that our entire platform is built on a set of APIs that either our developers or 3rd parties can leverage to push the capabilities of Uberflip forward. A lot of those capabilities get realized via our App Marketplace.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Yoav Schwartz: I say this a lot, but perseverance. The other one is about being self-aware. This is a very, very important trait to being successful because everyone’s got their faults and unless you can navigate your own faults, you’re going to be limited by them. That is an ongoing exercise. The third character trait is being able to articulate complex problems clearly and effectively.
What have you learned about personal branding that you wish you had known earlier in your career?
Yoav Schwartz: For me, to be consistent with your personal brand, means your true character needs to show up. I’m very cautious not to be a different personality to different groups – that just sounds exhausting. Everyone gets a very similar version of me. Obviously, there are always subtle differences depending on the audience, but being genuine is the best recipe for success.
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Yoav Schwartz: As I say to everyone who I hire, I hire people to do their job and I don’t want to get in the weeds of what they do. I hire you to do your job. I’m here to support you, so let me know how I can support you. Otherwise, let me know how you’re doing and what you need. I don’t micromanage. In fact, I don’t want to. I find that really helps certain individuals because they want autonomy. It doesn’t always work for people that need a lot of support. I am not the right boss for those types of people, and that’s okay.
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What would you say is the main difference between starting a business at the time you started yours and starting the business in today’s age?
Yoav Schwartz: Something that is always changing is the barrier to entry. Even when we started there wasn’t a huge barrier to entry. Two decades ago, if you wanted to start a software business, you needed hundreds of thousands of dollars just to spin up a few servers. The other major difference that impacted us when we got started was the lack of a software community in Toronto. There were a couple of players, like FreshBooks and Shopify, that you’d hear stories about. Otherwise, it just didn’t exist. It was all in Silicon Valley. Fast forward to today, Toronto has got a huge tech hub now. The tech community has become a vast community with a much larger pool of talent.
What’s your favorite “leadership” quote and how has it affected the way you implement your leadership style?
Yoav Schwartz: There isn’t a specific quote that hits home for me, but influential people’s books help guide me in leadership. My favorite business book is The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, which is pretty common. It’s a really great example of perseverance and success. Most recently I read The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger, CEO of Disney. He wasn’t a founder, but he rose through the ranks of the corporate world. It’s another great story of persevering, how to look for opportunities, and the best way to leverage those opportunities. In reading all of these books, you can feel what the writers were going through. Obviously they’re massive successes, but there are takeaways everyone can relate to.
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Yoav Schwartz for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Yoav Schwartz or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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