Mentorship with Alon Cohen


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Alon Cohen is an entrepreneur, inventor and is widely recognized as one of the creators of the Voice over IP industry. Cohen was the co-founder of VocalTec Communications (NASDAQ:VOCL), the first company to provide Internet voice technology worldwide, which in 1996 was one of the earliest successful Internet IPOs. Cohen joined after founding and managing a successful series of recent business ventures.

As an innovator Alon Cohen holds 5 US patents on different communications technologies, including the “Audio Transceiver” (US Patent 5,825,771) which is the basis for Voice over the Internet (VoIP) technology. Alon Cohen is the recipient of many awards and accolades for his innovative work including the “VoIP Visionary Award” (2005) from Pulvermedia.

Cohen represented the State of Israel in the United Nations negotiations of the ITU Study Group 16 for the development and ratification of global VoIP standards.

Cohen was also named, by “The Marker”, a leading Israeli Business Newspaper, as one of the “100 Most Influential Israelis” in Israel’s High Technology history in September 2005.

Cohen holds an MBA and BSC.EE from Tel Aviv University.

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Mentorship with Alon Cohen

  1. 1. Mentorship Alon Cohen – 2013 alonchook@gmail.comCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 1
  2. 2. Agenda•  VocalTec or My Story•  Mentorship –  Should you believe what I say? –  Who should you listen to?•  Last word of adviceCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 2
  3. 3. The Beginning - 1989FYI: VocalTec – First VoIP company.•  2 geeks garage operation –  Alon Cohen –  Lior Haramaty•  Developing a sound card for a PC•  Starting with $4000 giftCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 3
  4. 4. Staying Afloat 1989-1992•  Selling Sound cards for different applications•  Stand alone sound devices –  Ice-cream truck music box•  Hebrew TTS for blind people•  Reaching out to the US marketCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 4
  5. 5. Re-Inventing the company1993 -1994•  VocalTec was losing the battle with sound cards –  The keyword was SoundBlaster compatibility•  Raised money –  Vardi: “The CAT will not sell but I saw good people, you should invest”•  Sat down for a problem solving session (1993) –  We understand Telephony –  We understand Computers –  We understand integration of Computer & Audio –  We bet that every computer will have sound•  The conclusion –  Build a Phone Application that use PCs & LAN –  Novel -> Net-BiosCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087
  6. 6. From LAN to WAN•  Is this VocalTec’s support? •  Support: Yes..•  Your software does not work…•  I am trying to call from England to France over my fast 64K Line, and it sounds bad. •  Did you press the compress button?…•  Wow!! now its working, I can save a bundle on my long distance phone calls!!•  That was it. –  We now had a clear direction. –  We had to make it work on the Widest Public Network available.Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087
  7. 7. Creativity Wins - 1995•  Developing SW only Real-Time audio compression•  Using IRC – as a directory service•  Only small luck.. –  All the experience we had from the Sound Cards days –  All that we developed for the LAN –  Was needed and operating in full force on the Internet•  The final touch –  Converting every 3 bits to 1 bit (dropping 66% and losing only 25%)•  E-commerce engine•  Internet download•  Mass distributionCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 7
  8. 8. 1995 – 1996 The Launch•  Feb 1995 –  First to market –  Good PR People –  Getting front page headlines•  1996 - EXIT –  Going public (Nasdaq: VOCL)Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 8
  9. 9. What else•  VocalTec - IPO•  RemoteAbility - sold•  ExciteView – nice demo, wrong partner•  BitWine – sold and came back• – still on itCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 9
  10. 10. MentorshipCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 10
  11. 11. The Sample Size Theory N = 1/(B^2)•  So for: –  N = 100 we get an +/-10% error (Good) –  N = 3 we get a +/- 60% error (Very bad) –  N = 2 you get a +/70% error (Even worse)Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 11
  12. 12. And here is the problem•  Most mentors (like me) had N = 1,2 or 3,4 experiences.•  I.e my conclusions has potentially +/-60% deviation from the truth –  Time is different –  Technology changed –  Market players morphed –  And people are never the same•  Your startup is most likely different –  (Some principals are similar, like “buy low sell high”)•  However, the details make all the difference –  What to sell, to whom? When? Where? and at how much?Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 12
  13. 13. Do you know what is best?•  Most starting entrepreneurs thinks they do –  N = 0 --> B = +/- A lot –  Confident people are more susceptible to errors…•  Hence, not a good practice!•  So: –  First listen (with a very open mind) –  Preferably to people with some gray hair (or larger N) –  Than decide what’s relevant and what’s not for your case.Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 13
  14. 14. Pulling in Different Directions?•  Investors are not friends nor good mentors!!! –  Get investors only as absolute last resort –  They have their own agenda –  They think they know what is best for you and your startup •  Probably based on past few successes, if any •  Or maybe based on good grades & intuition.•  They are good smart people –  They are good in what THEY DO –  Much less in what you do.•  “The house on the hill” problem –  If you succeed I will be able to afford it. •  (Contributed by an investor)Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 14
  15. 15. Take it or Leave it•  Keep a file with ideas, keep updating them, keep adding - Ideas do expire•  Identify problems in your surroundings –  Solving them is an opportunity•  It is simpler to sell an investor a dream than a working product –  Try and let me know what worked better in your case•  Never say the word simple to an investor•  Extend your runway – where you start is almost never where you finish•  Never work for free, give value or equity equivalent value to your time•  Be humble, listen to others, keep an open mind•  Ask many, decide with few•  Find good partners (it is hard, I know)•  Start with an API (if relevant)•  Always have a business model•  Luck has a lot to do with success•  Be nice to your employees, people do not forget. One day they will hire you.Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 15
  16. 16. ThanksAlon Cohenalonchook@gmail.comBLOG: alonc.blogspot.comPhone.comCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 16
  17. 17. How can help you•  We help young startups with free services•  Look for our coupon code with: –  NJTechMeetup –  Or –  And few moreCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 17
  18. 18.•  Hosted, in-the-cloud PBX services•  Launched the service in 2007•  Selling - mostly online•  Self-provisioning platform•  Highly praised USA-based customer support•  (Yes, we can give you US numbers free for a year)Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 18
  19. 19. Features - To mention a few•  Forward calls outside the US. –  Change destination from anywhere to anywhere•  Rules-based call routing and schedules•  Voicemail transcription•  Unlimited IVR•  Global Numbers, Toll Free Numbers, iNum Numbers•  DIDs forward SMS to cell or e-mail•  Soft Phones (PC and Mobile) –  Point to Point Video using SIP and h.264•  Address book sync•  HD Voice using G.722Call us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 19
  20. 20. Distributed Call Center – using the API Business API Agent Communicator Phone # Call Phone # Call Phone # CallCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 20
  21. 21. Marketing Support - Call Analytics Free $4.88/MoCall us 24/7 (800) 998-7087 21