Eliad Inbar, Tangiblee

Founders: Eliad Inbar, Yevgeniy Kuznetsov
Company Description: Interactive software that adds size, look and feel context to online retail shopping
Company Site: tangiblee.com; Twitter
Date of Interview: December 2014

Eliad Inbar is the co-founder of Tangiblee. He came to Chicago last summer after Tangiblee was accepted to the 2014 class of Tech Stars. Eliad believes he is a lucky guy in life and that people can affect their luck by being open to and seizing opportunities – such as Tangiblee.

On the idea:
The idea was inspired by Eliad’s experience buying earrings for his wife online. When he actually got them they were way bigger than he expected and he had to return them. The idea kept growing as they continued to encounter more and more stories of people buying a variety of items online that were not the size or fit they expected. “Every time we pitched the idea someone would say, ‘Ya know, that happened to me.’ ”

“There are a lot of ideas that come to you when you’re in startups, but some of them just stick. We knew this was going to be good for consumers – we just needed to figure out how to sell it.”

“We just couldn’t let this idea go. 10-20 years from now, there’s going to be a better way to visualize products than we have today. This is the evolutionary next step to what we have today – showing it in context, next to things you already know. It relates to how we already think. You use something you know and compare it. It’s natural.”

On getting into Tech Stars and the experience:
Tech Stars wasn’t on Tangiblee’s initial radar, but a friend introduced them to it and they decided to just go for it. They did all their applications and interviews remotely from Israel via Google Hangouts.

“Most of the big things that happen to you in your life – you don’t plan them. I didn’t think it was going to be this fast. It’s been a life changing event. It was a pretty easy decision to come here. It’s an opportunity we couldn’t have gotten in Israel in every aspect – business development, investor exposure, trying what we do in a big market.

“Coming to Techstars was the best decision we made. It has improved us in every parameter of the business.”

On choosing a co-founder:
“We’ve known each other for 6-7 years and worked together in the same room at a previous company. We started throwing around ideas and eventually found one we wanted to go for. We’re very different, but complete in terms of things we bring to the table.

“Most things you can’t control, but choosing a co-founder is the thing you can control. If you choose right or wrong – it will have a lot of impact on the business. So luckily, we both chose right.”

On getting the first investors and customers:
For Tangiblee, it has been about getting your network to take a bet and keeping them happy about the bet they are taking.

“We learned that network is super important. The way you present your business is so important. It’s not just about presenting it to the outside, it affects how you think about business internally.”

“I didn’t imagine the fundraising would go as it did. It was very quick thanks to the tons of lessons we learned about presenting our company, showing what’s important and focusing on the right stuff to progress.  When we went to investors at the end of the summer they saw serious progress. They are betting on something that has a good chance.”

“It (getting customers) was a combination of luck, network and people who just loved our product. Your first customers don’t know if it’s going to work, but they really like what your product is representing. You need someone to take a bet, and after they take the bet you need them to be happy about it.”

On advice:
Eliad is careful and humble to say that he’s not qualified to give advice necessarily, but he is working on and believes in the following.

“Take things in proportion. That’s something I still need to work on. Another thing you learn is just to get used to getting out of your comfort zone on a daily basis, even an hourly basis. If you don’t do that you’re not going to enjoy the ride and you have to enjoy the ride. Most of it is the ride – I don’t know how the ride will end. You have to enjoy the ride because it is one hell of a ride.”

At the time of the interview, Tangiblee had just closed its first round of funding and was buckling down for their first winter in Chicago. “I hadn’t been to Chicago before, but I really like it. It’s exactly what I want. Everyone is trying to scare me about winter, but I’m not worried.”