Getting a Grip of the Founder Game

Lior Yaari, Co-Founder & CEO at Grip Security

At the age of 16, many people are studying hard and wondering what the future will hold for them. For Lior Yaari, it was an age of discovery in the field of cybersecurity. He was helping NYU students with their homework, and got the itch to enrol on a cybersecurity course.

He wound up working in cybersecurity roles during his stint in the IDF before jumping from start-up to start-up before becoming a CTO for YL Ventures, one of the biggest cyber-focused investors globally. These experiences all helped shape Lior into the CEO he is today at Grip Security.

 

The road to CTO

In one of Lior’s roles, he was project led on automotive security, working with a number of large brands, helping them build cybersecure vehicles. Lior wanted to make a career jump away from a more research-based role into a start-up role.

He wanted to be in the weeds of a start-up environment, and while it was a big jump, he has no regrets.

At YL Ventures, he became a CTO, in a business which wanted to be best-in-class and have a vast network of CISO advisors to help them understand what to invest in and when to invest in a company in a hyper-focused way.

Lior’s role as part of the investment team was to join any conversation between a CISO and a start-up regularly as a ‘technical translator’ as he calls it.

 

The value of experience

His work as a CTO gave Lior a lot of exposure to entrepreneurs as a side effect. Lior agrees YL Ventures was an integral step in his journey to becoming a founder, but admits the typical founder journey often emerges having worked in start-ups rather than on the VC side of the coin.

Working for a start-up before founding one’s own venture gives perspective on challenges, but Lior still gleaned some of the issues entrepreneurs faced while at YL Ventures.

Like many founders, Lior identified two conflicting trends: traditional solutions for SaaS were underwhelming and ranked poorly in cyber. At the same time, these solutions were growing very fast, suggesting room for innovation. The second trend was that YL Ventures were looking for high-interest problems which customers wanted to hear more about, which had the trajectory to become a budget line item or category.

 

Scaling up meaningfully

Lior admits that one of the disadvantages of the US being such a large market is that it is less network-oriented, something very common in Israel to enable speedy hiring.

Getting the right people faster has a materially positive impact on start-ups, Lior believes, and networks can only go so far in markets like the US.

Moving Grip Security out of Israel into the US, Lior was motivated to leave a market the size of Rhode Island, and branch out properly.

Lior wanted to acknowledge that half the company would be US-based, but potentially wind up with a more US-based presence. One of the biggest challenges Grip faced was scaling, and needed good leadership where the new customers were.

Want to hear more of Lior and James’s conversation?

Watch the full episode of Tech Salescraft on YouTube, or across all major podcast streaming platforms.