Ami Ben David: The Innovation Interview
Ami Ben David, Co-Founder of Everything.me shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and the Everything.me dynamic phone experience.
Ami’s career began at Aladdin Knowledge Systems, a software security company (NASDAQ:ALDN and later acquired by Vector Capital), and continued at AladdinSoft, a start-up subsidiary of Aladdin, developing home banking and CRM solutions for some of Israel’s largest organizations. While at AladdinSoft Ami led the CRM group, which developed and sold high-end telemarketing platforms.
After selling AladdinSoft, Ami worked as a senior consultant, primarily in London, UK followed by a period at MagmaVC (previously Magnum Ventures) where as VP of Investments he dealt primarily with mobile software-related start-ups.
Returning to his entrepreneurial roots, Ami then co-founded Ki-Bi Mobile Technologies, a mobile content distribution company, where he was responsible for product, marketing and sales. The company went public on the AIM in 2005.
Ami then was tapped by Oberon Media to launch the company’s European and Asian operations. Moving to London, Ami established and oversaw this expansion, taking responsibility for online, mobile and social platforms. While at Oberon, Ami drove hundreds of deals with media companies, portals and carriers leading to the distribution of online games that garnered tens of millions of monthly users across the EU and Asia. Under his leadership, Oberon garnered a position within the top 3 distributors and publishers of mobile and online games in most territories.
In 2010 Ami and Rami Kasterstein began talking about potential investment ideas, and in the process conceived the idea for DoAT. They brought in a third co-founder, Joey Simhon, and began development. At DoAT, Ami is responsible for product, user experience, strategic relationships and marketing.
How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?
Innovation is about creating something that is truly new, not superficially, but deeply and fundamentally new – something which changes reality. For me, innovation goes together with thinking big. It’s pretty easy to innovate in small increments, in fact for every problem or opportunity, there could be dozens of alternative, and equally good incremental improvements. But what is that one big leap that changes the reality of the problem or opportunity? These are the things I call innovation.
What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?
We live in an exciting era, in which Innovation is not an option any more, its the only way to survive. Therefore every industry should embrace innovation, but not every industry should take more risks. In fact, the biggest risk any industry player can take is to NOT innovate. The reality of our world fundamentally changed since 10 years ago. Today, every smartphone carries (or connects to) low-cost and near-endless computing power. This changes everything, and if you don’t embrace it, your competitor will.
What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?
When I just started in business, I was about to go on a trip to Asia for the first time, and asked a friend for advice on how to behave, how to exchange cards, etc. He said, “There is too much to know, and no way I can teach you all of it”, but he then said “just be yourself, be genuine and real, show your true personality, and people of any culture will instinctively recognize and appreciate it”. Best business advice ever.
What is your greatest achievement and why?
It has to be the start up I co-founded, Everything.me. Out of all the things I have been involved in, it is the most ambitious, innovating and exciting – trying to reinvent the way people interact with their smartphones. I truly believe the smartphone is the most important innovation of our time, if our ideas can become the way millions of people use their devices, for me – that’s the ultimate achievement.
Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?
Digital is a life saver for me, I can’t really read physical books. Analog is romantic, but digital is reality.
What was the inspiration for Everything.me?
We have been working on Everything.me for almost 3 years now, so there were a lot of inspiration points, but the key moment when I felt inspired, was when we together deeply understood that we are not an app inside a phone, we actually want to re-invent the smartphone interface, and make it dramatically more powerful and in tune with our dynamic lives. I feel the biggest inspiration is to figure out the core of your full potential, and go for it.
How do you see the dynamic phone concept evolving? Will you scale Everything.me to the Smart TV and then to the car?
The idea behind the dynamic phone is that our lives are dynamic, we change modes 10 times a day, and our devices should simply and almost magically adapt. This is universally true for any device with apps and an interface, so yes we see the model evolve to tablets, TVs and cars, but for now we focus on the smartphone.
What role does user feedback play in development of Everything.me?
I believe great innovations come from a great vision, so you have to have a clear direction you believe in and that drives you forward even when a portion of your audience demands something else. Within that vision, really listening to user feedback and understanding what they are saying, is critically important in delivering a magical experience.
With Everything.me’s ability to turn any Android phone into a branded phone, have you approached and or has a company such Nike approached you about developing branded experiences that tie into their existing platforms? For example, hypothetically Nike could tie an branded Everything.me expereince into their Nike+ platform.
This is absolutely a direction we are working on, remember we only launched our beta 2 months ago, and there is a lot more to come.
It is extremely savvy to have Telefónica Digital as a strategic investor as it opens up a wide array of distribution options for the Everything.me platform in the Spanish Speaking market. With Telefónica’s presence in South America, specifically Brazil, are there plans to work with Telefónica to develop localized dynamic phone experiences for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games?
We are part of the Firefox OS launch with Mozilla and Telefonica, and we are super busy with preparation for this exciting product launch. On top of this platform there will certainly be a place for local and dynamic phone experiences, not just for the FIFA world cup and Olympic games – but for every relevant event… this is the whole idea of the dynamic phone, to deliver relevant experiences on demand and on time.