As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Yossi Cohen, CTO and co-founder, Quicklizard.
As the co-founder and CTO of Quicklizard, Yossi Cohen is responsible for the strategy and execution of the product and technology roadmaps. He leads their teams of developers, product managers, and data scientists in creating the best and most technologically advanced AI-pricing optimization platform. Prior to co-founding Quicklizard, he co-founded 3Base (acquired in 2012).
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always been passionate about computers (computer science, algorithms, the Internet) and economics, this was what I studied in college and the field I chose to engage in most of my life. Quicklizard is at the exact intersection of economics and computer science.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
In addition to all the standard hardships faced by all start-ups (funding, human capital, etc). convincing the first customers to trust the system and “let go” allowing the system to set the prices was the first major hurdle we had to face when bringing the platform to the market.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
We believed and still do full-heartedly that digital transformation and advanced technologies such as machine learning are an essential part of the future in general, in retail, and for price-setting and management within that. The truth was that we could relate. Digital transformation, like any change, is hard. Understanding our potential customer’s struggles helped us design a path that could take them through the transformation in confidence.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Today, we are experiencing ongoing growth with new customers and existing customers expanding their use of the platform. Quicklizard pioneered dynamic pricing and price optimization when the simple understanding of why it is needed was still asked. Today companies understand the why and are figuring out the “How”. We see it in the numbers of tenders, the level of questions we are being asked and the variety of retailers’ profiles.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think that the main difference is at the core understanding is that pricing excellence is a journey. We have built the platform to reflect that and designed our services and partnerships to enable the customer journey at every step and at any scale.
You can improve the way you are pricing your products along the way, there is no sacred end goal. There is an ongoing trajectory of learning and improving.
Over the years & especially in the last 18 months, we see more and more retailers approaching us looking to understand how they may benefit from dynamic pricing and price optimization. Not all have the same level of sophistication nor do they need it. We have seen all types of retailers from your classic supermarkets, fashion, liquor, etc. retailers to restaurants, car rental and event ticketing.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Choose a path and run the course. A quarterly evaluation should be enough to assess and implement changes if needed. You will encounter many skeptics, experts, and friends and well, they all have an opinion.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Many people, including our families and dutiful employees, share the success. But If I had to single one person it would be our current chairman of the board. He has had a profound impact on our ability to persevere through rough and challenging times. He has a distinct ability to cut through and get to the heart of a problem. Offering guidance and support for finding a resolution.
During the pandemic and the months of working from home, I held job interviews from home. At the end of each interview, my 15-year-old daughter would walk over and share her insights about the candidate (and of course being 15 she also had an opinion to offer about my skills)
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Wow, so many things….
- “Change happens over time” and then “It’s going to take longer ….” — the fact is that even if you have a great product and there is a real need, the likelihood is that it will still take time and realistically, that timeline is going to be a little longer than you expect. Quicklizard pivoted in 2018 from competitive data to a pricing platform following a shift we could feel in the market and in the needs of our customers. We believed at that time that companies would be fast to adopt agile pricing practices as the business value is clear. We failed to factor or understand the psychological and physical hurdles of such a transformation. Now, almost 4 years later we are seeing the clear path to mass adoption.
- Finding top talent is challenging — Finding the right people that have the professional and personal skills you seek is hard. It has become even more difficult since the beginning of 2022. Due to mass investments coming in, the talent pool in Israel is stretched to the limit and salaries are skyrocketing.
- Advisor vs. Manager — know the difference — As a founder, I am frequently asked for my opinion. However, it is not relevant almost as often as it is. I hire top talent managers to manage the company and although happy to mentor and advise it is important that they lead their departments and own their path. There is more than one way to skin a cat.
- Managing my time — Everyone in the company knows that I do not appreciate it when meetings are simply put into my calendar. With COVID I found that remote work has allowed me to increase productivity and better manage my time as well as create efficient, meaningful meetings with the teams. When a team member wishes to schedule a time with me, I ask that they send a short text outlining the need. I found that a lot of these “meetings” are actually a question or an issue that can be assessed over a short exchange of texts or a 5 min phone call.