How often have you bought a new DVD Player, and have had difficulty making it work with your existing TV set-up? In our Entrepreneurship Case Studies series, this week, we talk with Yaniv Ben-Saadon, founder and CEO of Fixya, a community site focused on providing after sales technical support on consumer products.
SM: Please describe your personal background : Family, upbringing, early career, etc. leading up to this venture.
YB: I was born and raised in Jerusalem, Israel; the oldest of three children to young parents that immigrated from Morocco. After graduating tech high school, I joint the Israeli Air Force and became an officer soon after that. Overall I served 6 years in the military, and in 1994 jumped on a plane and came to the US.
I was always inspired by success stories of young Israeli’s who arrived the land of opportunities and decided to try it out myself. After a short period of traveling throughout the country, I settled in Florida and started my first business, an Import & Export Company. During one of my visits in Israel, I identified the opportunity to sell Israeli made car-mounted flags in the US. Due to their inexpensive cost, I was able to import car flags which were made by order, and sell them to Car Dealers, Sports Clubs, and even Political Campaigners. Fairly soon I was able to show significant revenues from this home based business, yet at the same time I wasn’t intrigued enough to further grow it.
At some point I heard about a scholarship opportunity in Florida State Schools, and decided to pursue an academic degree. Due to my passion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I often found myself promoting various agenda in various speaking engagements. By coincidence, I met the Israeli Consul General of Miami, and was offered to join his staff as Spokesperson. For three years, I represented the Israeli Government policies in speaking engagements throughout the state. That experience made me consider a career in diplomacy, and I looked for academic programs that could enhance my knowledge in that field. In 1999, I was admitted to Georgetown’s Foreign Affairs MA program.
Before I was expected to complete my move to DC, I visited Israel and something drew me to stay. These were the Bubble days, and relatively quickly I found myself joining a couple of young people as founder and CEO of an Internet Start up. That company, 3Turtles.com, created a set of instant winning games as a means of increasing conversion rates for CPA advertisements. With a relatively small amount of capital raised, the company was able to generate revenues and eventually sell its core technology to a US partner.
After a 2 year transition period where I established a Dating subsidiary for a more established company, I founded FixYa.
SM: Talk about the vagaries of life! Quite a circuitous route to entrepreneurship …