Uri Levine at T Entrepreneurship Week.Courtesy of Rotman
Levine spoke with budding entrepreneurs as part of U of T Entrepreneurship Week
From March 6th to 9th, U of T Entrepreneurship held its 7th Annual Entrepreneurship Week. Several events and speeches were held to celebrate U of T’s entrepreneurial spirit and connect budding student entrepreneurs with business he leaders.
I had the opportunity to attend a talk by Waze co-founder and Moovit’s first board member, Uri Levine. Waze is a Google subsidiary that helps drivers navigate the roads, and Moovit is a service provider and journey planner application.
Following the release of his new book, Preoccupied with Problems, Not Solutions: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs, Levine shared the insights and expertise he gained after founding Waze. Levine published this book to share his philosophy on entrepreneurship, failure, and success. He wants to teach others how to solve problems and create value.
Levine is a successful technology entrepreneur who has founded over 10 startups. To date, he has generated an enterprise value of more than $2 billion for him, and this figure is increasing year by year. He is best known for his Waze, which Google acquired for his $1.2 billion in 2013. His other startups, such as Refundit and Engie, are still small and may even fail, but they are focused on his one idea: solving a problem.
The first challenge Levine and co-founder Ehud Shabtai faced was funding. Acquiring a company that was considered quite ambitious for its time was very difficult. In his 2006, when Waze first launched, smartphones didn’t exist. Instead, Waze was running on a personal device his assistant, which greatly diminished the interest of potential investors. But Levine’s focus on the problem of traffic congestion allowed him to bring in several investors and expand the project.
Waze is entirely crowdsourced, so the only reason it was successful is because the team was able to convince people that using the app would ultimately benefit them. Waze’s first users were driving on a blank map. Waze was solving a real problem, so I was able to convince people to use it anyway. It eventually expanded all over the world and today is the leading navigation application.
don’t be afraid to fail
“If you’re afraid to fail, you’ve already failed,” Levine said in his speech.
People today are told not to fail, but Levine believes failure is an important part of the process. In fact, he tells every parent out there to teach your child to fail.Levine believes that one needs to fail fast. This gives you more time to try different things and eventually succeed.
Levine says you never know when you’ll fail or need to pivot, but you should always be ready. In building Waze, his team succeeded, failed, succeeded, and failed. However, they did not lose sight of the North Star and devoted themselves to solving the problem of traffic congestion.
Focus on the problem, not the solution
Focusing on the issue did more than just provide guidance to Levine. It was also part of the startup’s marketing and branding. When people asked him what Waze did, Levine told them he was solving the problem of getting rid of traffic jams.
Focusing on the problem allows people to actually empathize and understand the solution. If Levine was focused on solutions, Waze wouldn’t make sense. The solution was a crowdsourced artificial intelligence-based navigation app, and in his 2009, when ChatGPT and Tesla Autopilot didn’t exist, it wasn’t easy for people to figure this out.
Levine focuses on the problem because that’s what people care about. In fact, if you’re solving real problems, you’re almost guaranteed to add value to society, he says.
Today Levine considers herself a teacher. So he is someone who can share lessons and make the world a more entrepreneurial place. He could only discuss part of the book, but it contains the lessons he learned every step of the way, from his conception to scaling his company.
His insights help budding entrepreneurs with different aspects of their entrepreneurial journey, including fundraising, hiring and firing, and customer feedback. Although the book is written primarily for entrepreneurs, innovation is an important part of most companies, so there are several other business executives on the book talk ready for inspiration. bottom.
If you want to learn about entrepreneurship and innovation, Preoccupied with the problem, not the solution may be good for you