Finding the Right Fit in Tech Start-Ups
Benny Lakunishok, Co-Founder & CEO At Zero Networks
Like many tech founders, Benny Lakunishok’s career kick-started while in the Israeli army, where he served as a programmer within its intelligence unit. His work there ultimately led to an integral role at Microsoft in 2007, serving as Senior Premier Field Engineer, and eventually a Senior Product Manager there.
After over a decade at Microsoft, Benny spread his wings and co-founded Zero Networks in 2019, where the business focuses on tackling the root cause of some of the most successful cyberattacks. The business was in its infancy when COVID hit, but has gone from strength to strength, reflecting a winning strategy aong the way.
In a recent episode of Tech Salescraft, he sat down with James Hounslow to talk about his journey and the highs and lows along the way.
Starting up is a battlefield
After the first four to five years at Microsoft, Benny found the situation too bureaucratic, lacking innovation, giving him that itch to go off and start something on his own.
First, he went for a start-up which was tackling a clear challenge, in its early stages, and used it as a springboard to experiment.
Microsoft ultimately bought the business, bringing him back into the fold, but eventually, the itch to go his own way to build a start-up grew too strong to resist.
Benny speaks from experience, when he says that having the right partner is the most important thing to get right when going into what he describes as a battlefield when building a start-up.
A good fit
That partnership and the core team one hires both have to be a perfect fit for an early-stage start-up, or otherwise it will simply not succeed. Benny sees too many entrepreneurs who lack the real passion to identify a problem and solve it meaningfully.
Some of the best founders, in his view, have a personal connection to a pain point which gives them that drive to find a lasting solution.
When picking his partner and team, plenty of interviews took place, but Benny admits not having much involvement in these.
Nowadays, he insists on being involved in the interview process, even though his presence isn’t required. Making good decisions on hiring early on is difficult, as chemistry in the core team is integral.
The cascade effect
One of the boldest decisions Benny had to make early on was to replace his fellow co-founder, as there simply wasn’t a good fit as he discovered. Finding a better fit in a partner had a cascade effect, allowing for Benny to work out what the core team should look like.
When looking to hire for US based staff, Benny sought advice from investors and advisors to help adapt lines of questioning to ensure new hires overseas were precisely what was required as Zero Networks scaled up.
In making that leap to start selling in the US, Benny reveals the importance of not moving to hire abroad as a means to outsource problems, saying it requires CEOs to get their hands dirty ultimately, even if sales aren’t their thing.
Want to hear more about James and Benny’s discussion?
Watch the full episode of Tech Salescraft on YouTube, or across all major podcast streaming platforms.