Israeli CEO: ‘Israel Might Be a Startup Nation, but What Americans Value Most Are Companies With American Offices’
CTech – It took a global pandemic for Aura Air to pivot its business model and become a B2B company. Since it offers air management systems, Covid-19 was the perfect opportunity to offer services to office buildings and apartment complexes in more than 50 places.
For Aura Air, no market seemed better than New York. “Commercial and residential real estate are our primary target markets, so selecting New York as our American headquarters is an easy choice because of its proximity to many headquarters of real estate companies,” explained CEO of Aura Air Roi Friedberg. “The result is an effortless, dynamic work process with daily in-person meetings becoming a possibility.”
It helps that they also worked to move their headquarters to the Big Apple too. “Israel might be a Startup Nation, but what Americans value most are companies with American offices,” he added.
Company name: Aura Air
Field of activity/product: Air management systems
Founders: Aviad Shnaiderman and Eldar Shnaiderman
Year of founding/start of New York operations: 2018
Number of employees and whether the company is active in other locations: 50 employees with headquarters in Israel, India, and the US, and operations all over the world.
Sum of total funding to date/funding rounds completed with investors: Aura Air is listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).
General background on the founders/senior managers:
I joined Aura Air three years ago as the VP of Sales and Business Development. As part of this role, I managed our global distribution and partnerships. For the last year and a half, I have been the CEO of Aura Americas, a subsidiary company of Aura Israel that oversees our operations in the Americas market. The US market is our primary market, and I moved with my family to NYC three months ago due to the growth stage we are experiencing right now.
Background on the product/service/platform/solution:
With a quest to reclaim our natural right to clean air, Aura Air created the world’s smartest data-driven air purification system, one that cleanses indoor air while vigilantly monitoring its quality in real-time. Aura Air’s award-winning design and patented technology filters and disinfects indoor air through a unique four-stage purification process that captures and kills 99.99% of viruses (including SARS-CoV-2), bacteria, germs, and allergens.
Why New York? What advantages does it offer? How does the market differ from Israel? How does the competition differ?
Aura Air has operations in over 50 countries worldwide, but our main focus is North America. Commercial and residential real estate are our primary target markets, so selecting New York as our American headquarters is an easy choice because of its proximity to many headquarters of real estate companies. The result is an effortless, dynamic work process with daily in-person meetings becoming a possibility.
While we have sales executives all over the country, we found that New York’s booming tech scene was quite similar to the ones around our offices in Tel Aviv and Chennai, making it ideal for creating a good ecosystem and recruiting top talent.
Two things you learned about the U.S. market from operating in New York
- Personal connections and continually networking are key factors for being successful. Working in the US can get lonely and talking to your peers can help you get much-needed perspective and help close the next big deal.
- Israel might be a Startup Nation but what Americans value most are companies with American offices. It gives you a more credible and accessible image and makes you appear more serious.
Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what to do in New York
- Connect to the Jewish community. It’s full of talented and influential people that are happy to connect and help. Attending community events is always a good idea, and you might even enjoy them.
- Take part in professional conferences and events for your industry and for the main target audience you are aiming to work with. Don’t be afraid to invest budgets to have a physical presence as well as a digital one.
Two suggestions for Israeli entrepreneurs on what not to do in New York
- Don’t assume what you did in other countries will be a significant selling point for the American markets. The local crowd is very patriotic and appreciates American success stories and case studies.
- Listen, listen, listen! Being the new guy in town, you should gain much insight and information about the ecosystem before taking decisions.
On a scale of 1-10, how much did the Covid pandemic impact your work?
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our work tremendously and completely transformed Aura Air’s operations and business strategy. We mainly worked in the B2C market and shifted to the B2B market because of the increased demand to monitor and purify indoor air in public spaces. We now work with many partners and distributors and provide advanced air purification to hospitals, schools, businesses, hotels, restaurants, buses, and nursing homes.
What are the differences when it comes to recruiting employees:
The hiring process in the US has its advantages and disadvantages. Since American culture is distinct, it was crucial that we also employ a native staff who knew all the subtle nuances when it came to working with local customers, potential partners, and distributors.
What are some of the workplace culture differences between Israel and New York?
Workplace culture differences between Israel and New York can be attributed to geographical factors. All of our Israeli staff work from the same office in Tel Aviv, while our American employees all work from home and celebrate happy hours virtually with packages that we send them.
Additionally, most of our Israeli employees live in the same area and bump into one another outside of work hours at the gym, supermarket, or club. Meanwhile, their American colleagues see one another only in large conventions and fairs, which can be exciting and add value to the trip.
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