So in life, we find that things may not work out as planned. Therefore, it is important that every bulletproof entrepreneur learns to roll with the punches and just keep on chugging. That’s the story of this interview with Yossi Hasson, a serial entrepreneur from South Africa and the co-founder of Synaq. Yossi and I had recorded the interview in March 2015, and it was scheduled for release in early April. But, I somehow forgot to upload the audio file but uploaded the profile picture. You can imagine how embarrassing it was for me, to realize nearly nine months later that I had not uploaded the file as scheduled.
Well, I would like to apologize profusely to Yossi for that, and I’m glad to say that this error has been fixed, and 2016 is off to a fine start indeed. Yossi’s interview is as relevant today as it was a few months ago when I chatted with him. His heroic story starts off at 11 years old when he started washing cars and doing other odd jobs around his neighborhood for money. He quickly moved up to selling medical equipment and other high-end items in his final year of high school. After accumulating an enormous pile of cash, he used some of the money to buy a Stallion XT computer for gaming, and from that point on was hooked on the internet and technology.
He then launched an early social networking site for his graduating class that grew to have over 3000 students on the platform. However, the idea was too soon for its time, and he regrets that he had to drop the endeavor because he couldn’t grasp the potential that was at his fingertips. While studying in high school, he met David Jacobson, a classmate who would end up being a life-long friend and business partner in Synaq. David was one of the dangerous hackers in South Africa at the time, and had managed to get his computer confiscated by the police and himself banned from being online for one year. Their friendship blossomed but never led to any business ventures until they reconnected a few years later.
David went on to have a few successful stints at some internet companies while Yossi decided to forego University and instead went into business importing second-hand mobile phones. The two friends finally got back to talking about building a business together, and those conversations would form the basis for Synaq. The pair created and launched an open source anti-spam solution, Pinpoint SecureMail, the first hosted, cloud-based anti-spam service in SA based on the Linux platform that soon became the industry leader in the market.
Using some very creative marketing and business development strategies they were able to win significant contracts beating some of the big boys in the industry. With their profile rising in the tech scene they launched many successful products includingBrandFu, an e-mail branding, and signature e-mail management system. Some of their large clients included South Africa’s largest Telecom Company MTN. News of their successes led many M&A proposals, with Dimension Data Internet Solutions ending up acquiring 50.1% of Synaq.
After closing the transaction, Yossi decided to take some needed time off to obtain an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science. His thesis on the role of Web 2.0 in building a startup’s brand in South Africa is very insightful analysis and proved to be an early indicator of the things to come in the internet/tech world.
So listen, learn and be inspired. Find out about his biggest regrets, the lessons learned from his past failures and the success habits that have helped him stay on top.