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Perfect is the enemy of good
Waze founder Uri Levine on gaining momentum to create, fund and scale a successful company
Uri Levine is not name you’d recognize, but something he invented is probably an app on your phone. He co-founded Waze, the world’s largest traffic and navigation app. More than 250 million drivers worldwide use it, and the company was acquired by Google in 2013 for 1.1 billion dollars.
Since then, Uri has founded several other companies, like FeeX, a startup that reveals hidden fees you might not be aware of from your bank, and Engie, an app that can diagnose car problems so you can arrive prepared at the mechanic. He’s also creating innovative solutions to major problems in the US, like the cost of healthcare, and public transportation. And don’t worry, he’s still obsessed with solving the traffic problem.
Uri’s mission in business is nothing short of brilliant: to disrupt inefficient markets, and to solve BIG problems that save consumers time and money, while also empowering them with information. In other words, he’s creating real products for real people, that solve real big problems.
In this episode, Uri shares some of his key learnings from the Waze startup journey; from starting from scratch to a successful exit. You’ll hear the processes that he applies when he starts up or advises any company – like figuring out product-market fit, whether the problem he’s trying to solve is actually a problem in the eyes of consumers, and his strategy behind hiring a winning founding team. He also talks about something that is difficult for every business owner – when it’s time to let people go.
You’re also going to hear how Uri allocates his time, as a founder and serial entrepreneur, in each phase of the startup process, in order to properly support his team, while also making best use of his own time.
Uri is interviewed on stage by Scott Harris, a coach, mentor and a speaker at many of Tony’s events, including Business Mastery, Tony’s signature business event.
[00:40] Episode introduction
[02:37] The magic of Waze is crowdsourcing
[03:12] Collecting GPS data to create a map
[04:13] The first version of Waze on a PDA
[05:10] The discouragement of fundraising in 2007
[05:56] Why nobody was using Waze in 2009
[06:40] The process of iteration
[07:08] Good enough and free wins the market
[07:47] How to let go of older versions of your product
[08:25] Uri’s method of creating value
[09:00] The perception of problem starts with the founder
[09:46] How to know when the problem is big enough to be solved
[11:01] The problem that the Engie app solves
[12:00] The power of talking to people not like you
[12:30] The idea is 10%, execution is 90%
[13:03] How Uri finds the best leader and team
[13:03] The true role of a CEO
[13:46] Why startup founders say they fail most
[14:34] When you should know the team isn’t right
[15:24] Importance of making hard decisions
[16:00] How to know when to fire someone
[17:00] The psychological impact of firing a poor performer
[17:44] Industries that are most ripe for disruption
[20:00] Uri’s new app, RefundIt
[20:37] The story of selling Waze to Google
[20:55] There are right decisions and no decisions
[22:45] Why Uri left after the Google acquisition
[23:15] The day in the life of a serial entrepreneur
[23:35] The 2 most important things in the 1st year of a startup
[24:12] Getting the product market fit right
[25:00] The 2 most important questions to ask yourself as a leader
[28:22] Autonomous vehicles will change the business model
[29:20] Why you need to look 5-10 years ahead