Israel's Start-up Hatchery

Spectory is a development and design company that guides entrepreneurs through tortuous terrain towards their dreams.

By TERRANCE MINTNER
March 7, 2018 17:16
Spectory employees

Spectory employees. (photo credit: COURTESY OF SPECTORY)

Let’s say you have a great idea, you’ve churned it over in your mind and have done your research. One problem: How do you navigate the start-up world? How do you manage the technical and professional aspects of your project? For example, even on the more practical end, how would you raise money or hire a team? Do you even have an office space? For outsiders looking in, such tasks seem daunting to say the least.

In this case, who wouldn’t need some hand-holding? And even if you are fairly knowledgeable, why not find ways to improve your project and streamline its implementation? Spectory is one company that’s eager to extend a hand.

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It helps up-and-coming entrepreneurs develop ideas and get the support to maintain their start-ups. The company employs diverse specialists from tech backgrounds who can take your vision and bring it to life, while guiding you down what can be a tortuous path.

Furthermore, Spectory is elastic with the budget, assembling its team of specialists according to an entrepreneurs financial situation and particular needs.

Based on the views of many customers (Project Pals is one featured in this issue), Spectory has built a solid reputation as a reliable and expert mentor.

To find out more, I recently sat down with Itai Rechnitz, Spectory’s CEO. Rechnitz has more than 20 years of experience in the software industry and earned a degree in computer science and an EMBA from Tel Aviv University. He co-founded six start-ups and led M&As. His partner and co-founder, Gil Meir, is the company’s CTO.

Our conversation covered the gamut of what an enterprising individual might need to get his or her project off the ground and flying steadily.

We spoke about building software products, hiring the right people, and the one thing every entrepreneur needs to know about making startup dreams a reality.

We begin with any company’s most valuable asset – its team.

“The Spectory team consists of 50 people from Israel; it’s a mix of product managers, designers, developers, DevOps and QA engineers,” Rechnitz says. The team builds software products and provides further expertise for a range of clients, Rechnitz explains. “These clients can be anyone from an independent entrepreneur, all the way up to Fortune 100 companies.”

For each client, Spectory assigns a core team of two people – a product manager and a tech lead.

It then adds or removes professionals from that core as the project evolves and needs change.

“At the beginning of a project, you typically need a lot of design work by UI/UX experts and system architects,” he says. “Then gradually you add more developers of different areas of expertise and experience, as well as QA specialists.

The balance between planning your product and executing it keeps changing. We try to keep things flexible in this way.”

Spectory has two offices. One is in Netanya and the other is in the North, in the Bar-Lev industrial zone.

Why did the company choose Israel as its home base? “Well, first, Israel has always been our home, and we love it here. Second, Israel is known as the Start-Up-Nation. There’s something about the vibe here – boldness, innovation and out-ofthe- box thinking. These are the right ingredients for start-ups,” he says.

So building a software product is only about the people? “The answer is no. People are very important, and the fact that Spectory has more professionals than many start-ups from the beginning helps solve problems much faster. But it’s also about a very tight process we run that helps everyone speak the same language. It’s a process that we’ve built over the years, and we constantly invest in improving it and building more tools for our use.”

Rechnitz explains that start-ups can’t afford to assign so many resources to building a process and tools to streamline their product development and quality. Investors are always looking for fast results.

“Start-ups are born and, unfortunately, many of them die, but Spectory is here for the long haul, and we retain and invest our assets, allowing start-ups to go from 0 to 100 in no time,” he says.

The right people are great designers and engineers, he explains. Usually, they are scattered all over the world, which means that anyone building a tech start-up is almost always stretched for resources. To Israel’s great advantage, it has a surprising concentration of such talented people, a circumstance that allows Spectory to assemble the right team efficiently.

“You don’t have a lot of money or time to put in, so you need people who move fast, understand your product and market and can translate these needs into the most cost-effective solution,” he says.

But I was curious to know how Rechnitz believes his company can build a product quickly without cutting corners. He says it’s about investing a limited engineering budget where you absolutely must and deferring the rest until after you have the resources.

“That’s what is called an MVP, a minimal viable product,” he explains. “You see, when you’re just starting out, you can’t afford to put in the same resources Google does, so you can’t be in that same mind-set.”

To illustrate the point, he cites a quote from the 2011 film Moneyball in which the coach of a struggling baseball team exhorts his players to stop thinking like the Yankees. When it comes to recruiting talent, for example, the Yankees will always outspend them, the coach warns. He adds, “If we try to play like the Yankees in here, we will lose to the Yankees out there.”

Rechnitz believes the quote is instructive.

“That’s what we always tell our entrepreneurs.

Think differently, be innovative, and turn the disadvantage into an advantage. You’re small, but that is also why you can be fast. If you try to build your product like Google does, you’ll lose to Google,” he says.

Minus Google’s nearly unlimited resources, how does the average client proceed in jumpstarting his or her project? Spectory, Rechnitz ex p l a i n s , provides a stepbystep action plan.

“First, tell everyone you know about it!” he says. “The one mistake we see over and over again is that entrepreneurs are overly secretive about their start-up idea. The common wisdom in the start-up scene is that ideas have zero monetary value. It’s almost always the execution of an idea that dictates success or failure in the marketplace.”

While executing a project, there are numerous examples of how minute changes to a decent idea can make it great, he adds. For example, many outside people contributed to Facebook’s wall idea, but it was Mark Zuckerberg and his team who came up with the brilliant idea of the “like” button.

“It’s a million micro decisions like this one that make up great execution,” Rechnitz says. “That is exactly why you need to tell everyone about your start-up idea, gather feedback at every opportunity, and continually adapt your execution accordingly.”

What is Spectory’s most potent weapon when it comes to executing an idea? “Agility,” Rechnitz responds. “Many companies talk about an agile work process, but at Spectory I can tell you with confidence that we’ve mastered this technique. We have successfully delivered projects in as short a time as two man-months, all the way up to multiple man-years using the exact same process.”

The company has had projects that started out very small and ended up as huge endeavors, thanks to its emphasis on adaptability and agility.

Such characteristics, Rechnitz attests, are built into everything Spectory does.

“We work closely with our customers. We’re completely transparent, and we allow our clients to start small and increase capacity as they go along and as they see fit,” he says.

Spectory also has larger clients. But how does the company work with them? “Larger companies are comprised of individuals, and I’d even say that everyone is an entrepreneur, even within a larger company,” says Rechnitz. “If you have this cool idea but your company can’t spare the resources to build it, maybe you can hire us to build it instead. That’s the type of work we do for entrepreneurs within larger companies.”

How does the prognosis look for start-ups going forward, and what data is Spectory using to understand the market? There is a growing number of start-ups every year as well as new and exciting opportunities. At the same time, the start-up economy is changing all the time.

“According to KPMG,” Rechnitz says, “during Q1’17, angel and seed-stage funding continued to experience a pullback in most areas of the world, with decreases in both deal count and deal value.” He continues: “At the same time 60% or Pre-Series A start-ups will fail to make it to Series A or beyond, according to a report by TechCrunch.” He explains that such data mean it’s getting harder and more competitive for start-ups; they need to seek as much help as they can possibly get to stay focused and effective.

Now we’ve reached the point we’ve all been waiting for. Rechnitz generously offers his best advice for all the entrepreneurs out there. These are the gems of information and motivation his company looks to store up for future clients.

“There are infinite possibilities to create something new and exciting in tech,” he says. “Software development costs are dropping every year, and the typical barriers to entry into the tech industry are quickly disappearing. So if you have this fresh conception for an app or a website, talk to everyone you know to get their feedback, and then focus on great execution. Your idea can become a reality faster than you ever imagined.”

With its focus on action and adaptability, Spectory aims to become the animus behind many projects, large and small, not only in Israel but around the world.


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