Scaling a business

Waze founder Uri Levine on what it takes to build a successful business

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What does it take to successfully scale a business? How can you create a world-class marketing plan? What does it take to sell a business to Google for more than a billion dollars? Uri Levine can answer all of those questions. You may not know who he is, but you probably recognize something he created. 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 $1.1B.

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. 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 and big problems.

In this episode, Uri shares some of his key learnings from the Waze startup journey, from starting small to scaling a business. 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 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. He’ll remind you that, although it is tough, you’re doing them a favor as well, freeing them up to find a position that is a better fit. 

Uri will share one of the most important lessons for how to make a successful business: Perfect is the enemy of good. This is something Tony often says as well: “Perfection is the lowest standard in the world. Because what you really have is a standard you can never achieve.” And as Uri shares in the podcast, while you’re out there working toward perfection, your competition is coming up with something just good enough to win the market. He says, “If you spend too much time trying to be perfect, you will lose the market to someone that is good enough.”

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. Remember, everyone has the same amount of hours in the day – but not everyone builds successful billion-dollar businesses. One of the biggest keys to scaling a business is time management, and Uri will share his own personal business tips.

Finally, Uri will talk about making tough decisions. As he says, “There are right decisions and there are no decisions.” You can never truly know if you’re making the right decision. All you can do is use the information you have to make the best possible decision. 

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.

If you try to build something that is perfect, you lose the market to someone that is good enough.

Episode notes

[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

This podcast is packed with valuable information from a true expert on starting, scaling and exiting successful businesses. Uri is one of the great serial entrepreneurs, a true creator and builder at heart, and you don’t want to miss his valuable advice on how to make a successful business. Get inspired and get the real-life strategies you need today to stop letting perfection paralyze you and take action instead.

Team Tony

Team Tony cultivates, curates and shares Tony Robbins’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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