For the past seven years I’ve been working with startups.
Six of those years have been in crypto.
I started 7 years ago back in 2015, being the first employee to my father’s real estate finance firm, Capital Stack Advisors, where I would scout for deals, talk to investors, and deal with all the marketing efforts, all while doing cold calls so he could make some quick money as a sales consultant and be able to support a family while he built his 3rd business.
While taking my first steps into the business world, I read about Bitcoin in a magazine and it kinda just made sense.
About a year later after being part of Tamid, where a couple of friends and I created pitched “Goals” — an app that rounded up each purchase to the nearest dollar and put the difference in a savings account for your next “goal” of spending, and participating in Startup Class as part of the IDC Entrepreneurship Club, I dropped out of business school.
Because I wanted to go 100% into crypto.
People thought I was nuts.
I was president of the business school, part of these business clubs, and all I talked about was business.
But it just made sense to me, no matter how much it hurt my ego at the time and no matter how much all my friends thought I was stupid because I couldn’t pass our math courses.
I went ahead and switched to the easiest degree in my school and basically never went to class. Ever.
My thought process was simple: in the real world none of this matters.
What matters is who you are, what you know, and who you know (very similar to the On Deck approach , but more on that later).
What that basically means is the following:
- No one wants to work with a dick and vice versa, people always want to work with good people.
- People want to work with people that know their shit.
- People are everything.
And so I decided to focus on those 3 things and started to build.
But my first “problem to solve” was myself, which meant fighting through peer pressure to follow the norm and
“Just go Crypto”.
I started by joining Whatsapp groups and messaging startups and people, to pitch them on how I could help them as a freelance marketer.
I would run around Israel, show up to offices, and cold email execs only to get a hella lotta no’s.
But eventually a couple said yes and I got my first few clients.
Right about this time I pitched the idea of my Uni’s first incubator, to the heads of the entrepreneurship club, and literally annoyed them to see my presentation and plan , until they finally did and gave me the green light.
I went ahead and brought in 7 ventures, 5 mentors, and multiple influencers from the Israeli high tech industry , including Kobi Stock from the Israeli Unicorn WalkMe, Moshe Sarfaty from Krypton Capital, and lawyers from one of Israel’s top law firms Pearl Cohen, all to participate in this little idea I had in my head called “Start”.
While building Start, and hustling crypto marketing jobs, someone got it in my head it in my head that I should work at Deloitte as part of their Blockchain Strategy team.
I literally applied that same day, didn’t get a response for a month, and cold called head of HR multiple times, all to get zero response (sidepoint: HR seriously needs to get better at this in all companies).
I eventually decided to just show up to the office in a nice shirt, because I had nothing to lose.
Apparently in Israel, if you wear a nice shirt and speak English, people think you are important.
Somehow the secretaries took me seriously and ran around to look for the head of the department.
Eventually after not finding him, they said they would call him on his cell, which was when I admitted I was just there because no one got back to me about my resume.
Suprise! I got kicked out.
As soon as I got home, I emailed literally every single manager at Deloitte Israel until the head of Israel emailed me back and said he loved my hustle.
He recommended me for an interview.
This was an interview every top student in my uni was fighting for and I just broke every single rule in the book to get it.
Long story short: After a two hour drill of an interview and a few pit sweat stains, I passed.
But after consulting with a friend of mine Max Satter, I turned down the opportunity for something that called my name more:
It was an experience that helped shape who I am today.
I was super happy and humbled to have gotten that opportunity from my back then boss, and now close friend Franka Godina, as well as Hilla Ovil-Brenner.
Afterwards, I applied to the Zell Entrepreneurship Program in IDC, where I became the first person from my international degree ever to pass the 6 month long screening progress.
I got into the “SIP” which was a 2 week intensive bootcamp, where everyday we had class from 9am to 9pm, and then got assigned a new team and assignment to build , due the next morning.
This of course meant we didn’t sleep.
After putting my heart and soul into it, I didn’t make the final cut from 37 to 24 (out of about 1000 applicants).
I was shattered and ran away to the Sinai desert to camp out alone on a beach and heal.
But soon after, I got my first big break, and closed a deal with the Tezos Foundation to build Tezos Israel, where I pushed Tezos Adoption in the EMEA region and worked closely with the Foundation and other entities on our global strategy.
I ended up leaving a year and a half later.
Afterwards I got accepted into the Adweek Rising Mentee program and On Deck (after applying literally 3 times to ODF, getting rejected, and then making pitch videos and cold emailing Erik Tornberg and David Booth with the video and a long letter attached on why I’m a good fit).
Both programs were UNREAL (caps for emphasis).
Techstars pt 2
Soon after I got a call to come back to Techstars , to once again work with a new batch of startups, in addition to building and managing our pipeline for the next cohort, where I quintupled our application count in 3 weeks.
Working with that batch was just awesome. It was like truly working with friends.
But something was missing.
And I knew what it was.
Through all this journey, I wanted to build my own product in Web 3.
For the last 7 years, I had been completely surrounded by entrepreneurship, with some of the finest people I have ever met.
But where was my product ?
Where was my “being broke AF, while running a company” story?
I had been advising so much, but was I really putting all of it to use?
I had been so deep in crypto, seen what really goes on behind the curtains, what really makes ecosystems and projects successful, and through building dealflow, what truly makes them full of absolute shit.
But where was my crypto project?
Sure I had been through a lot. The hustle was so real.
But in my mind I wasn’t a real entrepreneur, and no matter how many people called me that I would always correct them and said “I’m not an entrepreneur until I build something impactful”.
For 7 years, I laid awake at night with doubts like:
“But I’m not technical”.
“But those guys sound and are smarter than me”
“I’m a nobody. Yea I think I’ll do great things. But can I actually *create* great things?”
“Will I ever be ready?”.
But the truth is, you never are.
I’ve worked with entrepreneurs all over the world. I’ve watched them succeed and unfortunately I’ve also watched some fail.
Ive built and worked with some of the biggest names and projects in crypto.
And I’ve fallen and gotten back up, time and time again.
But now it’s my time to rise up and “truly” build.
Yes I’ve built before.
But this time, at least in my head, it’s a true product, with users, a community, and solutions to their problems.
I believe in the future in Web3.
I always have for the last 6 years.
Now it’s time to add my piece to our space.
Its my time to solve the problems I see.
It’s time to take all what I have learned from all the amazing people and places I’ve been and put it to work.
It’s time to back my shit up.
It’s my time to truly build.
I’ll end with this:
At the end of Techstars, I was having a heart to heart conversation, with Tzach Goren, the CEO of AgadoLive (keep an eye out for them), a serial entrepreneur in the sports world (sold a company to Zwift), as well as Nir Gurevich, CTO of ReTravel (look out for them too), and a serial entrepreneur as well.
They both looked me in the eye and said :
“Ash, it’s clear to all of us here that you know what you want and you know what you are doing. Go.”
They were right. It was time to go.
So here I am — going.
Anyone who knows me knows once I make my mind up, I’m not gonna stop until I get it.
I was literally born into the world this way, by refusing to come out the natural way (my mum pushed 14 hours and eventually gave into a C-section so shout-out to her for being a true MVP).
One way or another, I will get this done.
In the words of the great 50 Cent it’s time to “Get Rich or Die Tryin”