Move Fast and Break Things

Posted on: Friday, 7 October 2016 at 9:31:56 AM

“Move Fast and Break Things”

Article from the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce-AICC(WA)’s ECU FutureNOW Series Business Lunch, held in conjunction with the Tel Aviv University Australian Friends and sponsored by PwC, on  Friday 30  September 2016.


A copy of Uri Levine's presentation slides is available from this link.

At the same time that one of Israel’s founding fathers and champions of Israel innovation, President Shimon Peres, was being laid to rest in Israel, serial Israeli entrepreneur Mr Uri Levine was carrying forward his legacy in Perth by addressing the AICC(WA) on the topic of “Entrepreneurship and Passion”.  In the course of his address Uri Levine reflected on his personal encounters with Shimon Peres, sharing his philosophy that “people don’t stop dreaming when they become old, they become old when they stop dreaming”.

From L to R - Mr Boaz Nol, The Australian representative, Tel Aviv University, Ms Rachel Cooke, Consul General, U.S. Consulate General Perth, Mr Ike Eilon, Managing Director, Capricorn Maritime, Mr Vince Troth, WA Regional Director, Schneider Electric, Professor Margaret Jones, Director, Office of Research and Innovation, Edith Cowan University, Mr Stuart Silbert OAM, Board Member, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA), Mr Larry Lopez, Vice President, AICC(WA) and Partner, Australian Venture Consultants, Mr Uri Levine, Founder, WAZE, Mr Graham Laitt, President of Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) & Managing Director, Milne AgriGroup Pty Ltd, Mr Meir Buber, Senior Resource Executive, English speaking countries, Tel Aviv University, Professor John Finlay-Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Edith Cowan University, Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and Mr John Schaffer, Chairman & Managing Director, Schaffer Corporation


Prior to the keynote presentation the Tel Aviv University (“TAU”) Australian Friends paid tribute to Mr Ike Eilon, pioneer of Israel commercial shipping & international ship owner and Director at United Bulk Carriers.  Mr Meir Buber, TAU Senior Resource Executive for English speaking countries, introduced Mr Eilon as an alumni and longstanding supporter of TAU.  Mr Buber described TAU as a gateway to Israeli research and presented Mr Eilon as a founding example of Israel’s global entrepreneurship.  He presented a certificate acknowledging Mr Eilon’s contribution to TAU and the State of Israel.

Mr Eilon spoke of his fascinating career, his contribution to the defence of Israel in its formative years, and the establishment of Israel’s national shipping company Ziv.  He shared an account of his role in establishing a shipping industry in Burma and the geopolitical impact that flowed for Israel’s foreign relations.  His career extended further to Belgium, Thailand and Singapore, before reaching Australia where Mr Eilon forged personal connections to Prime Minister Bob Hawke.  Following a meeting with Sir Charles Court Mr Eilon established business in WA and contributed to the grain freight market.  He serves as Managing Director of CMC

Mr Ike Eilon, Managing Director, Capricorn Maritime and Mr Meir Buber, Senior Resource Executive, English speaking countries, Tel Aviv University

Professor John Finlay-Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Edith Cowan University

Through an introduction, Prof John Finlay-Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President of ECU, described Uri Levene as “a passionate serial entrepreneur and disruptor”.  He outlined his path “from failure, to success, to extreme success” and spoke of the innovation culture and the alignment of ECU and the AICC(WA) FutureNOW series. 

Uri Levine’s presentation was also supported by PwC.  Amanda Gell, Partner Research and Development, Perth, spoke of the shared innovation vision that PwC share with the AICC(WA).  Citing the ability of Israel to commercialise R&D, Ms Gell spoke about the PwC Innovation Hub and its role in setting strategy, accessing funding and ultimately commercialising new inventions.

Ms Amanda Gell, Partner, Research and Development, PwC

The journey of entrepreneurship undertaken by Uri Levine is one that he wears, quite literally.  His self produced T-Shirt is emboldened with the phrase “Who are your users, and what is their perception of the market?”

Describing his experience, he cautioned that entrepreneurship is a long journey, where sacrifice is required.  “Some days you go home crying”.  Waze was started in 2007, and launched in 2009, as a social network to assist drivers to avoid traffic jams.  Uri explained that when the focus is on making an impact, not on making money, the latter will be taken care of.  “Be prepared for a journey of failures.  People think that entrepreneurs fail once, then it works.  The reality is that entrepreneurs can fail many times before they succeed.” WAZE had a tough year in 2010 as it moved into Europe and could not cope with the complexity of the market.  “People came because of the story, and left because the product didn’t work.  Google introduced their own product and people thought this would be the end of WAZE.  But if you’re happy with your product it probably means you are launching too late.”  When Google eventually acquired WAZE the deal was quickly closed, within 10 days.

It is the first year that is the key to the success of an entreprenuer, which Uri described as “dynamic and very important”.  He discussed the elements of fundraising, DNA, mission and focus that deliver disruption.  “Ask yourself how the market will change if you succeed.  Who is it that is going to be out of business if your idea works?  When that question is answered you need to be ready to move fast and break things.”

He drew a further analogy between falling in love with a venture and a personal relationship.  You fall in love with an idea to be an entrepreneur, it can take time, and if it doesn’t work you disengage.  He also counselled “if you don’t love what you are doing then do something that you do love”.

Mr Uri Levine, Founder, WAZE

 “Australia needs more software engineers”, Uri suggested when sharing a vision for driverless vehicles. “A software engineer will say that if you can describe it, we can build it”.  Explaining that the entire model of car ownership will be transformed in an era when driverless cars can be rented and consumers will purchase a quota of usage, Uri outlined how traditional markets can be changed as technology evolves.

Mr Larry Lopez, Vice President, AICC(WA) and Partner, Australian Venture Consultants  and Mr Uri Levine, Founder, WAZE

Uri’s biggest challenge was raising funds.  “I’ve had more no’s from investors than I have had from girlfriends” he said.  “There are 100 ways to say no, and I’ve heard them all.  Believe me, fundraising is an extreme sport.”  To be successful in this space, Uri discussed the excitement of creation, and the importance of first impressions, even within the first few seconds of contact.  He suggested a pitch to an investor should not take more than two minutes, and that story telling is important; as investors are potential product users too.

His entrepreneurial tips, of particular value to AICC(WA) sponsored students who attended the presentation, were as follows;

  • Determine who your users are and what their problem is
  • Make your mistakes fast
  • Fall in love with the problem, not the solution
  • Focus not only on what is being done, but what is not being done

Uri further noted that disruption is about changing the market equilibrium.  He emphasised that disruptors are newcomers, given that established markets don’t wish to change.  With this as context Uri noted he engages in two to three new start-ups each year, briefly describing the functional purpose of his companies Moovit, Feex, Roomer, Zeek, Engie, Fairfly and Fairsale.  Uri noted that even before Waze became successful he already knew that Feex would be his next start-up, as a tool for identifying, disaggregating and reducing financial transaction fees on superannuation products.  The idea evolved because Uri determined “if we don’t know what we are paying, then we are paying too much”.

Concluding his presentation Uri emphasised that he was only interested in consumers.  He is motivated by giving a lot of good to a lot of people.  During facilitated discussion with Mr Larry Lopez Uri gave further of his generous experience.  He discussed celebrating success, and championing heroes.

Although modest and a stereotypical example of the casual Israeli entrepreneur, Uri is indeed a hero of the Start-Up Nation.  His drive and persistence is inspirational, and his presence was a unique experience for the Perth business community.  

Mr John Cluer, Chief Executive, AICC(WA)


About Uri Levine

Mr Uri Levine, founder, “WAZE” - world's largest community-based traffic and navigation app. An entrepreneur and entrepreneurs mentor. Tel Aviv University Graduate.

Mr Uri Levine is a passionate entrepreneur and disruptor, co-founder of Waze, the world's largest driving traffic and navigation app, which was acquired by Google on June 2013 for more than $1.1 billion.

After Waze, he co-founded and is active chairman at FeeX, which allows users to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in their retirement savings and long term investment plans. In addition, Levine is involved as co-founder and/or board member in startups: Zeek, Roomer, FairFly, Moovit, Engie, FairSale & Mego. Levine focuses mainly on consumer services, with the agenda of “create a lot of value to a lot of users”, like saving money, time and empower them - in other words, doing good and doing well.

Event Sponsors

The AICC(WA) is grateful for the support of its FutureNOW sponsors, without whom this presentation would not be possible;

Principal Sponsor:  Edith Cowan University

Event Host Sponsor:  PwC

Platinum Sponsors:  Microsoft, GHD, PwC, Convergio, Vizstone, Mt Barker Chicken, WAHTN

Diamond Sponsors:  Australian Venture Consultants, Cisco, FB Rice and Schneider Electric

Silver Sponsors:  Royal Perth Hospital Medical Research Foundation, Hazer Group, RACWA Holdings Pty Ltd and Ozgene



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