How to succeed in the US. Interview with businessman Jan Manevich.
My current interlocutor Jan Manevich, businessman, co-founder of a successful start-up Metadata.
Hello, Ian. Tell me, how did your life evolve before you left for the US?
I liked the dynamics of work and the sense of “significance”, which is often absent in large companies. He played in the Israeli League of KVN in the team of Nesher. Come on, right up to the semi-finals one season. In the team, I was more of an author than an actor. He sometimes led parties in nightclubs, wrote commercials for radio. It was a very interesting time.
Apparently, you lived well in Israel. Why did you decide to move to the US?
I, by nature, fidget. If I stay in the same place for a long time, I get bored. I start to take myself out of the comfort zone and try to cope with the situation and new conditions. Here, and then, in early 2002, everything in life was wonderful – and work, and apartment, and friends, and KVN. But, at some point, I felt that I was getting bored. Yes, and the weather conditions in Israel began to be difficult to bear.
Then he decided to move. For some reason, I did not want to go to America. Probably, the years of Soviet anti-American propaganda affected, which was absorbed with the mother’s milk (it was impossible to get any other milk). I decided to move to Canada. Collected the documents and went to the Canadian Embassy in Tel Aviv, in the hope that the process will be short-lived – a maximum of two years. I handed over the documents, they asked me to wait. I’m sitting, waiting. They call for the window. I’m coming up. Ask a couple of questions in English. I answer. Asked to wait. I’m sitting, waiting. Again they call to the window. I’m coming up. Handing a package of papers, they say “Congratulations.” I say, thank you, but when are you allowed to wait? They looked at me carefully and said, pointing to the package in my hand, that’s IT.
Four months later, having managed to make reservist fees and almost die there, with a sense of duty to the homeland, a fresh scrap of gray hair and two trunks, I came to Canada. While looking for work on the specialty, moonlighting in the warehouse.
Almost immediately I found a team of KVN, which helped me cope with the mild depression that appeared. After 10 months, a relative invited me to his wedding in Buffalo. There I met my wife. The history of our meeting is amazing (but this is already a topic for another interview). Someone will say – Fate; someone will say – that’s the will of God. In this case, both will be correct.
My, then still, future wife lived in San Francisco. A week after the meeting, she flew to me in Toronto. Then I flew to her in San Francisco. When two months after the meeting, she flew to me in Toronto for the second time, I made her an offer. That’s how I ended up in the USA.
How did the first years in America go? Was there a cultural shock and how was it overcome?
Since my wife at the time of our acquaintance lived in San Francisco for many years, I did not have to choose my place of residence. At first they lived with their parents. It was the first shock. Just kidding. In fact, I was very lucky with my mother-in-law and father-in-law. A couple of months after receiving a work permit, I got a job as a programmer in a bank. Immediately began to look for their homes. The city could not afford anything, so they rented a one-room apartment an hour’s drive from San Francisco. For America, getting to work more than an hour on the shift, it’s fine. For the first couple of years, we have flown around rented apartments. It’s here in the order of things.
It also took some time to understand that not all topics can be said “in the open.” If you say something wrong, they can be accused of racism, sexism, and other “sizmahs.” Still very angry when I watched the comedy series, the audience laughed, and I did not understand what was funny. On the other hand, it was possible to safely enter buses and trains, without fear that at any moment it could fly into the air; no one checks bags at the entrance to shops, etc.
You have an interesting and promising business. Tell us more about it?
We are developing a platform that should fully automate the process of attracting new customers (B2B demand generation) – starting with receiving more than 150 different contact details based on its email address and building the criterion of the ideal buyer, and before optimizing advertising on various media channels. There are many companies that do something similar, but what we build, there is no market. The company was founded by Gil Alush half a year ago. I joined him 2 months later. First time worked from a cafe. Before sending emails to potential customers, they checked and discussed each word.
The company existed with the money that we invested. Therefore, it was necessary to save. The maximum tried to do everything themselves. From the construction of the site, to finance. At this time, the relationship between partners is tested for strength. There were a few difficult moments that we passed. This only strengthened our respect for each other. The main thing is not to keep to yourself. If something bothers, immediately discuss and solve the problem and move on.
Without a ready-made platform, we were able to get a trial project. Did it manually. The result surpassed the client’s expectations and they immediately signed a contract for two more projects. At the moment we already have 8 customers, including Comcast.
I think we are on the right track if our competitors, who have been on the market for many years, offer us cooperation, and other companies adapt their products to our needs. But, we are not deceived. We are only at the very beginning of a long, but interesting way.
What is your hobby, what do you prefer to do in your spare time?
I like to cook. It calms me down. You forget everything and only think about what you are cooking. And, if the result is liked by the children (the wife does not count, she will not tell the truth, so as not to offend), then this is the height of bliss.
For me, rest is family. There is a definition of happiness: “Happiness, this is when you go to work with pleasure in the morning, and with pleasure you go home in the evening.” In this regard, I am a happy person. I love, just sit and drink wine with my wife, naturally Californian. I love nature. When there is an opportunity, we go with my family to the forest of sequestration or to Carmel. This is a unique town on the ocean, 2 hours drive from San Francisco.
If possible, I look at Youtube ProjectorPershilton and Comedy Club. There are decent numbers. Laughter helps to relax.
Before I started working in a start-up, I started writing a script for the film. I really like that. The very process of writing a script. Unfortunately, now it was necessary to postpone this venture. But, as soon as possible, I will definitely return to this.
America remains an attractive country for immigration. What do you recommend to people who have recently arrived or are going to come to the US?
I think, most importantly, if you have already arrived here, then try to adapt in society and understand the culture of people than they live and breathe. This will help you communicate better with employees at work, with neighbors, etc. Do not feel like a black sheep. Basically here people have a lot of stress in life. Therefore, find yourself some kind of occupation that will relax you. Now in many social networks, people form groups of interests. Join such groups. Get acquaintances.
Here great importance is attached to networking. Thanks to good connections, you can achieve a lot: get a job, find a business partner, first customers, etc.
You can get a job through links, through agencies, to look for Craigslist, Monster, Dice, etc.
If you decide to start a business, then try to check whether your products or services are in demand. Make a market assessment. Find your niche. If you need employees, and you do not currently have the means to hire full time, there are sites where you can hire specialists in different areas for a small price.
Jan, thank you very much for an interesting interview.
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