Clint Betts

Thank you so much for joining us today. Really, it means a lot. Tell us about Allseated and how you got to where you are today.

Yaron Lipshitz

Sure. Allseated is, in simple terms, an event visualization tool. What we do is we let you see an event before it happens. We're a SaaS company, meaning we sell the software to our customers on a subscription basis. We have over 5,000 paying customers and are really helping hospitality professionals to do a better job in planning events, selling and marketing their event venues, and showing what an event can look like to their prospective customers, and end customers.

Clint Betts

How did you get to Allseated? What was your journey to becoming the CEO of this thing?

Yaron Lipshitz

Sure. I was an investment banker for a long time, probably too long. I started my career at Morgan Stanley, then Lehman Brothers back in the day. A good friend of mine from Tel Aviv University reached out to me about 10 years ago and showed me his cool new product that he wrote. I helped him to obviously raise some money because he's my buddy. About a month into it, he basically offered me the job as CEO. He's a tech guy. He was the CTO of the company. The other partner is Sandy, she was the CMO of the company.

Clint Betts

You spent some time in the Israeli Defense Force, right? It says here, you served three years in that, which is incredible. What did you learn during that experience?

Yaron Lipshitz

I did. I was three years in the Israeli Defense Forces. I was in army intelligence, meaning I was not running on the hills with a gun in my hand, I was really in an office environment. Super exciting times because my unit, that is the NSA equivalent in Israel.

Clint Betts

Oh, okay.

Yaron Lipshitz

Amazing technologies in the seventies and eighties, I was there in the late eighties, and so all these amazing technologies were developed there and my unit now is a huge ecosystem provider to startups in Israel.

Clint Betts

Why did you go into banking for all those years and what did you learn during that experience? Particularly, were you there during the Lehman collapse at all or did you get to avoid that?

Yaron Lipshitz

I was not. I, actually, my last year at Lehman Brothers was 2002, about six years before the collapse, and I was not in any part that had to do anything with that. I was doing investment banking, tech M&A to be particular. Really my journey to Allseated has always involved technologies in one way or another. Doing tech banking is part of that.

But I think you asked me what I learned in that business. I think investment banking really provides you with the ability to look at things from a strategic perspective. You get to look at the numbers, you get to look at what drives the business, how it stacks against competition. You get to understand funding and you get to understand — I don't want to say the final stage of the business because that sounds harsh — but really when the business is preparing for an exit and being involved in that process is very valuable because you can see all the value drivers there.

Clint Betts

That is fascinating. At CEO.com, we talk a lot about self-leadership. When you hear that, what does that mean to you? How do you apply that into your daily life?

Yaron Lipshitz

I think that leadership is something that involves a few things. It's not just one thing. It is a lot of self-discipline, avoiding sometimes the temptations of the pleasantries of the present. I think it really involves having something bigger than you, a dream, a vision, something that's bigger than you, and getting people with you into that. I think that is critical. Being able to communicate something big to people is absolutely necessary. More than anything, leadership is not about managing people, telling them what to do. It's about, in my opinion, the ability to direct people through your own actions. I think many companies, what they see, especially people in companies, when they see the leader doing something, this is what they typically follow. It's self-leadership is about setting an example and taking the values that you believe in and really showing them through actions to others.

Clint Betts

What does a typical day look like for you?

Yaron Lipshitz

Well, I'm an early riser. I wake up around five o'clock in the morning every day starting my calls with Israel, then Europe. There's a lot to get done in those early hours of the day. Then just getting into my day, getting into typically the thing that really needs to get done that day. The next thing is I do take some time to work out, run. I think that's really important for anyone that is in a leadership position. Take some time for yourself and also enjoy some things like playing music and things like that.

Clint Betts

How do you decide what to spend your time on? That important thing of the day, how do you decide what that is?

Yaron Lipshitz

It could be an external situation that needs to, a crisis of some sort. The pandemic would be a good example of that, something that happens, maybe something that happens with a customer that you need to get involved in, or it could be something internal, something that you decide, okay, we need to do fundraising now and this is where I'm going to be spending most of my energy in, and that really takes a significant portion of the day because that involves getting that set up and making sure that everything is going towards that, so it's pretty much a combination of those two things.

Clint Betts

For the event space, it's interesting. I wonder what you think about the rise of artificial intelligence and how that might affect your industry. I mean, it's going to affect every industry in some way, but it's really interesting. How does it affect yours?

Yaron Lipshitz

100%. I think artificial intelligence is going to affect every industry, every company, every person out there. It already is in some ways. It is absolutely amazing what this can do and the potential is amazing. We have already started to incorporate AI in our products. But I also think that in addition to tech companies incorporating AI in their products and in their future products, what they need to be doing is also embracing the power of AI and bringing that into their own operations of the company.

I think that in the events industry, there are a lot of things that are very manual, very mechanical, that absolutely could use artificial intelligence to save time for people. People are extremely busy in hospitality and with events, helping them manage their day better, help them visualize things better, so we're on top of it.

Clint Betts

Yeah, that's incredible. What do you read? What is something you're reading right now?

Yaron Lipshitz

A recent book that I finished that I think, for every CEO out there, a must read is Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. I think when I read it, I felt that I was reading my own journey in many ways. The way he describes his journey, even though the circumstances and his access to capital is way bigger than mine, but many similarities, and obviously, just an awesome journey for him, so I would absolutely recommend that to people.

Clint Betts

How have you defined culture in your company? What is Allseated's culture?

Yaron Lipshitz

Culture is an interesting thing. I think it's like when you meet someone, and oh, that person is really smart. That person is funny. That person is actually a little bit crazy. I think companies also have cultures and it's a personality of some sort. I think our culture has always been, from day one, one of innovation. We've always looked to solve big problems and solve things that looked like they were very, very tough to solve.

I think we obviously had to evolve that instead of just focusing 100% on innovation, which is what companies should do in its early days, really bring more discipline, more processes and more revenues into the mix so that you can obviously grow and survive. I think that the other thing is that a culture is something that obviously should evolve with a company, whereas when you're five people, it's a certain culture. When you're 100 people, you obviously have to do things a little bit different, if not very different.

Clint Betts

How do you manage the culture as you expand and as you grow the team? I mean, how do you maintain that? Or maybe you don't, maybe the culture has to change at that point.

Yaron Lipshitz

It does have to change. If you do not change and adapt to changing realities, either internally because you've grown, you're going to basically not scale. If you don't set processes, if you don't bring the right people to set those processes, set those initiatives and manage them, I think you're not going to survive. I think it's very different to get from zero to one, from one to 10, and obviously from 10 to 100, and I think that on that journey, every leader should absolutely look at the people and the things that are available to that leader in order to make those changes.

Clint Betts

What are Allseated's values and how did you come up with those?

Yaron Lipshitz

It's one of those things where you start and you look at yourself at some point like, okay, we're this, we're innovative. We take work very seriously, but we don't take ourselves too seriously. I think we can make fun of ourselves in tough situations. At some points, you obviously have to take a step back and really look at, okay, this is what the organization is and then what do we value? What do we really feel passionate about? And then communicate that, articulate that to the company and articulate that to everyone, the stakeholders and our customers as well, this is who we are.

Clint Betts

How do you communicate that internally, like your company's mission? How do you communicate that effectively both to the team, customers, the rest of the world, maybe what's the difference between the three approaches with those three groups?

Yaron Lipshitz

I think that once you define it, it's really important to continue to communicate that to people. I think that if there's something that I can say that we haven't done enough of with that is communicating more and more of that, communicating the mission, the vision, the values. We've actually done some work recently about three months ago to really make sure that we are so aligned, that we have a very clear set of values. Those are, we're innovative, we're fun, we're candid with each other, we're innovative. All those things should be written and communicated in a written format and verbally through management to the organization. I think that also dictates the tone that then everyone in the company should be facing outwards with investors, with customers, with all the other stakeholders.

Clint Betts

We also talk a lot about empathy and what the role empathy plays in leadership. What are your thoughts on that? What role does empathy play?

Yaron Lipshitz

Huge. I think it's huge. I'll be honest, I think it's something that can be learned. If I'm completely honest here, I started my career really thinking mostly about myself. How do I progress? In investment banking, it's a very cutthroat business. You really have to be very thinking about yourself. I think that as you become more of a leader, as you work more with people and you understand and it's obvious to you that you need to have more empathy, that you need to really look at the other person. It doesn't mean that you're not going to make very tough decisions, part ways with many people along the way and make unpopular decisions. It's what you need to do as a leader, as a CEO. It's a daily thing that you have to make tough decisions and inform people of those, but you can do them with empathy or you can do it in a mean way. It's your choice, and you always have that choice.

Clint Betts

I like that. I like that it's your choice and you will always have that choice. As you look at the macroeconomic environment and think about that as your company, how are you feeling going into this year in terms of the state of the economy, state of global affairs, because you're probably selling all over the world, right?

Yaron Lipshitz

Yes, yes. We are a global company. We're selling in the US, in Europe, in the Middle East, in Asia. I got to tell you, I hear a lot of things that are, "Hey, it's going to hit a cliff," I see good things. I am very optimistic about where we are. I think that the economy is very robust. There is a lot of demand from consumers. There's a lot of demand from businesses where we are, and I think it's going to get better. That's my view.

Clint Betts

I love it. Is there a moment where you may have failed that shaped who you are as a leader and helped you grow?

Yaron Lipshitz

On a daily basis, you mean? I absolutely think it's a daily thing. If you're not doing something wrong every day and failing in something, maybe small, you're not really pushing yourself. You're not really being a leader. But yes, I do have one of those experiences. Allseated started with the intention of being more of a marketplace. We wanted to bring a set of tools to the industry, give that for free, and then make money through vendor matching, matching hosts of events with vendors in the industry. That didn't work, and we tried that for a couple of years and it didn't work.

I think that the lesson for me was, at that point, I knew that I really had to make Allseated monetized, its services, or else we're just, we're not going to have a business. It was a very tough decision to make and not a very popular one with other stakeholders in the company, but we made it and the lesson there was, it's not just about the decision, but it's also about bringing people into that decision and making sure that they understand that even though they did not support it, it's okay for them to now be part of it. I think that really made us extremely successful going forward.

Clint Betts

Finally, we end every interview with the same question, and that is we believe the chances one gives are just as critical and important as the chances one takes on themselves. When you hear that, who gave you a chance to help you get to where you are today?

Yaron Lipshitz

I want to answer this question in a couple of ways. I think that there's definitely those that gave you a chance and they could be along the way, people that really gave you an opportunity, really made it incredible for you. There's also those that did not, and they're equally as important. The ones that said no, the ones that said no, not in a nice way, the ones that didn't believe in you. For people like myself, they're a huge motivator. I'd like to say thank you to other people who told me no, because you just made me want to succeed even more. I hate failing.

But I think there's a couple of people that were with Allseated who I'm very appreciative of, and those are my former business partners, Daniel and Sandy. I think they asked me to be CEO almost 10 years ago, nine and a half years ago, and even though they're not with the company now, I am very appreciative. I admire their passion and energy, and I've learned so much from them. I'm very appreciative and very thankful for the chance.

Clint Betts

Again, I can't thank you enough for spending some time with us. It means the world. You're building an incredible company. Best of luck moving forward, and I'm sure we'll see you down the line.

Yaron Lipshitz

Thank you very much. Appreciate it.