Chief Business Officer
Asaf Nevo is an entrepreneur who will tell you the truth about running your own business, and he thinks it might not be the right fit for you.
He tells us that most startups fail to be successful. Others don’t survive after acquisitions and mergers. A million different things are always going wrong, and owning a business means you never sleep well.
According to Asaf, you need an invariably positive attitude, a detail-oriented mind, and a high emotional intelligence quotient to survive as an entrepreneur.
“Entrepreneurship is a disease, and I’m definitely infected,” says Asaf Nevo, a 39-year-old entrepreneur specializing in building and selling companies. With previous experience as a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Business Officer (CBO), and Head of Revenue for various companies, Nevo is a successful leader who has helped many companies grow in revenue before they sell for profit. Nevo says he’s the happiest when working on team growth, investor relationships, finance planning, and especially when working on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) for companies.
"As I’ve said before, (entrepreneurship), it’s a disease, and I am definitely infected. Entrepreneurship is so overly glamorized, but people should really understand it's incredibly difficult and not for everyone." — Asaf Nevo
Entrepreneurship and Beyond
Asaf Nevo started his entrepreneurial journey in Haifa, Israel, and launched his first business with two other partners. It was a pub Nevo successfully built from scratch that he ran for 8 years before moving on to the next venture. In 2014, a company he co-founded called Pico (a data-driven sports fan marketing platform) was chosen to participate in the Startup Bootcamp Israel 2014 acceleration program. The startup was then picked up by DreamIt Ventures in the US to participate in a rigorous 14-week program for success. Soon after, Pico expanded to the European market with the help of a program called EurpoeanPieoneers in Berlin, Germany.
“Building a company is super hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. I don’t know any entrepreneur who sleeps well at night. Everyone is concerned about what’s going to happen tomorrow. That’s the entrepreneurial life. It’s a rollercoaster ride, a hard journey, and it’s not for everyone.” — Asaf Nevo
After 8 years of founding Pico and serving as its CEO, Nevo made the decision to sell it to Infront, a leading European fintech company. During this acquisition process, Nevo served as the Head of Revenue at Infront Lab for a brief period to effectively hand over the company and ensure a smooth transition for all stakeholders involved.
Building a Safer AI Environment
By early 2023, Nevo had moved on to serve as the Chief Business Officer at Coach AI (now Korro), a market-leading human-centric AI engine that uses AI, computer vision technology, and behavioral science to provide remote healthcare for children through virtual clinics. Nevo’s time at Coach AI was short but impactful.
These days, you’ll find him back in his metaphorical entrepreneurial workshop, supporting new entrepreneurship projects and consulting for other startups. He’s also thinking of ways to use his extensive experience in the AI space to develop a system that helps establish ethical boundaries for companies working with AI. Nevo passionately advocates using AI for good purposes and working on finding an answer to all ethical concerns raised by the exponential growth of AI technologies worldwide.
“One of the companies I’m working with is still in stealth mode, but I can tell you we’re building a system that helps with community control of the usage of AI for good. It’s about ensuring AI is being used for good and not being leveraged for unethical purposes.” — Asaf Nevo
Nevo asserts the collateral damage of the fast growth of any technology can sometimes result in its misuse. He mentions that before the AI space blew up, tech companies were dealing with data, and regulations around data took a long time to be enforced for companies. He iterates that the pace of growth for AI technology is 50,000 times faster than what happened with technologies using data. He insists that companies in this space must collectively work to establish some community boundaries around what AI can and cannot be used for.
He insists community involvement is the solution to curbing the use of AI for unethical practices. Nevo is convinced that problems like the Cambridge Analytica Crisis involving issues with data privacy could have been avoided if the tech community had been more active in reporting data breaches and misuse. He insists that the solution would be much faster and smoother to implement if people from the tech community, who have all the knowledge required to solve it, got involved instead of waiting for regulatory bodies to develop the right regulations surrounding AI.
Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) and Post-Merger-Integration
Nevo previously worked on companies from scratch and built them up to be big enough companies to sell them. He’s recently switched that up and is now focusing on smaller businesses. He says his end goal is no longer to build a huge company. It’s now shifted to doing something small and then moving on. It ends up being a faster and smoother process because small companies don’t follow traditional hierarchies or have much of a bureaucratic culture.
In Nevo’s experience, startups are the hardest businesses to set up. Everyone thinks startups are about building a model, selling, and exiting with a lot of cash, but that rarely happens. He says the backbone of a successful merger is the process after the merger, also called post-merger integration (PMI), which focuses on change management. Usually, when a bigger company acquires a smaller business, it’s tough for the big organization to integrate with the infrastructure of a small startup. He observes that it’s an emotionally draining process, and that’s why most CEOs don’t survive mergers and leave.
For companies looking to merge with smaller companies or sell to a bigger company, Nevo’s advice is to have as few moving pieces as possible. The fewer the stakeholders, the easier the merger. One way you can do that is to eliminate the fundraising process and get your company funded independently. Save fundraising for your company’s growth, not for starting up. Nevo promises it will save you a lot of trouble when you’re merging with another company.
Advice for Startups and Small Businesses
Asaf Nevo has extensive experience working with both tech startups and, more recently, traditional small businesses. He says the difference is mostly in the mindset of the small business owner and the founder of a new startup. The small business owner’s mentality is hard to change with data and projections. Startups, on the other hand, are more open to community, advice, and mentorship.
However, he believes both business types can benefit from building their story right. Nevo believes the key to success for any business is understanding your business completely. A good way to check if you’re setting up your business right is to ask yourself whether you know your market, business logic, and unit economics. Things will always be chaotic in a business environment, but as long as you know where you stand with your business and have a good head on your shoulders as a business owner, you can manage any crisis that comes your way. For business owners, Asaf Nevo advises to always try and look at the glass as half-full. Stay positive, try to do new things every day, and listen actively when people talk. You never know when inspiration may strike.