Gilad is a serial entrepreneur with a dynamic background ranging from starting a successful traditional travel business to founding his first startup Mekomy, where he had the role of CEO and took the company from idea to a fully deployed product with offices in three global locations to leading policy-making positions within Tel Aviv’s local government.
Within his role as Director of Economic Development at Tel Aviv Global, Gilad oversaw the cultivation and promotion of Tel Aviv’s startup ecosystem as a global center of innovation and entrepreneurship. Before starting Lance, he has been working as a self-employed business development and governmental consultant to companies and governments.
Today Gilad leads business development and operations for Lance and focuses on forging partnerships and setting the business foundations and processes.
1. What is Lance?
Lance is the first smart business banking account for the self-employed.
Tens of millions of freelancers struggle to navigate their banking and business accounting, because today’s options lack structure.
Lance’s proprietary business bank account and success model automatically allocate personal income, tax withholding, business expenses and profit for individual businesses.
With basic bookkeeping, entry level accounting and tax payments done, self-employed workers now have what they need to grow financially-compliant and stable businesses.
2. How did you come up with the idea for Lance?
My team and I have been freelancing on and off for the past 15 years, and we have over 50 years of collective experience running successful sole proprietorships. But our big, unrelenting issue was the lack of financial structure.
The four of us did very well in our various fields: full-stack development, marketing, product design and project management. We loved our work, loved our customers, and got our hands on some great projects. But we were still breaking our heads over finances. We never knew how much money in our bank account was actually ours, and how much we had to set aside for taxes. We never knew if we had incorporated in the best way for us, we had no idea how to even start saving towards retirement… and I don’t even want to open the Pandora’s box of bookkeeping. This brought us all plenty of surprises from the tax authorities. And not the fun kind.
After digging a bit, we realized we’re not alone. Freelancers and the self-employed are severely underserved when it comes to financial offers and products. This leads to freelancers losing $6,500 in deductions every year, leaves them without even $400 in emergency savings, and above all — has them living with a constant undercurrent of financial anxiety. It’s very emotionally distressing.
3. How did you get to where you are today with your company?
The truth is, we’re still in the very early stages of our journey. But we’ve learned a few lessons, made progress, and got to where we are today because of:
- Obsession. We are obsessed with our mission: to help the self employed gain stability and thrive financially, in the long term. This has helped us successfully pivot twice, without ever changing at our core.
- Resilience. We’ve built resilience as a team, which came in very handy when covid hit and turned the world upside down.
- Luck. We were super lucky to surround ourselves with great people who had faith in our mission and in us as a team. Just to mention a few; The Junction by F2 who were the first to believe in us, Barcalys accelerator by Techstars who gave us a major push forward and continue to support and invest in us as we grow, ICONYC, and all of our investors, mentors and friends.
4. What is the startup scene in Israel and how has that helped your company?
A lot has been written about the startup scene in Israel. It’s constantly ranked at the top of every list, and it’s where mega-companies like Wix, Fiverr, Mellanox, Appsflyer and MANY more come from. Just recently a new record was set when Israeli startups raised $1.2 billion in September.
Anyone can see the statistics, but what’s interesting is the why. I’m not going to get into the reasons why a tiny country in the middle east that doesn’t always get along very well with its neighbors managed to grow such an impressive ecosystem of innovation and technology. But you can read all about it in the best selling book The Startup Nation, or by reading Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
What I can tell you, however, is that being a part of such highly dense ecosystem brings some fantastic benefits to an early-stage startup founder:
- Capital. According to the SNC finder, just in the Tel Aviv area there are nearly 200 active VCs. So access to capital is not a problem. If you’re good, that is.
- Network. Israeli culture isn’t very hierarchical. What in some cultures might be considered taboo in business is accepted and even expected here. A flat structure means you can reach out to almost anyone, and they’ll usually take a few minutes to talk to you even if they’re super busy.
- Community. The Israeli startup community takes the pay-it-forward approach to the max. There are countless meetups, FB groups, Whatsapp communities and Telegram channels in which entrepreneurs can ask questions and get feedback or support with anything startup related.
- Programs. I always encourage young entrepreneurs to take advantage of the many different programs and accelerators we have here in Israel.
I personally built a strong network primarily from being part of tech communities, and from participating in The Junction program which led to our pre-seed and seed round from Israeli and US-based investors.
5. What is the future of Lance?
As more and more people choose the path of self-employment as their preferred path toward self-fulfillment, we see that our mission is becoming more relevant than ever.
We feel privileged to be able to support people just like us as they build a future for themselves. And we want to ensure that this future will not leave anyone behind.
We’re now hyper focused on supporting the needs of our growing user base of freelancers by improving our allocations algorithm, and by automating most of the day-to-day financial tasks through machine learning. We consistently talk to our users, hear their feedback, and implement their suggestions. We’re on the path of reaching 100% growth MoM for the next 12 months.
6. What advice would you give to young budding entrepreneurs?
I’ll try to say something new and refreshing, because I feel that everyone already knows that they should find the best team, move fast, ship often, etc.
What many entrepreneurs (especially the younger ones) ignore or forget to do, is to plan.
Don’t rush into things. Take time to build a plan, and to create your strategy. (If you’re not sure what a strategy really means, read this book.)
It might feel like a very time consuming activity, but trust me. It can save a lot of time down the line, and if done right, can really put you on the right path.
We would like to thank Gilad for speaking with us.