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Scaling a Fast Growth, Venture-Funded Company: Rafael Sweary, Co-Founder and President of WalkMe (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 25th 2017

Sramana Mitra: How did you get connected with family offices in the US?

Rafael Sweary: I met them while I was studying here in the US.

Sramana Mitra: The reason I’m asking you is that it’s an unusual way of financing companies. Family offices tend to not participate in early-stage companies. So, it was basically because of personal relationships.

Rafael Sweary: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: You were selling through the resellers of the Microsoft product?

Rafael Sweary: Yes, but I think that anything that we can take from Jetro is not relevant for today. The story of WalkMe is what would be relevant for entrepreneurs today.

Sramana Mitra: What is relevant is that this was your first venture and it seems like you had a successful exit from it. Whatever you say about a company with versus without a successful exit is a very different story.

Rafael Sweary: Right.

Sramana Mitra: How far did you get with Jetro in terms of revenues?

Rafael Sweary: We can’t disclose it as part of what we did that time, but we got to selling in 30 countries around the world.

Sramana Mitra: How many customers? I’m trying to get a sense of how far that company got.

Rafael Sweary: Hundreds of customers.

Sramana Mitra: Enterprise customers?

Rafael Sweary: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Hundreds of enterprise customers and sales across 30 countries. Who bought the company?

Rafael Sweary: A company by the name of RDT.

Sramana Mitra: What was the rationale for them wanting to buy your company? What was their business?

Rafael Sweary: They wanted to expand their business. They were an IT company. They wanted to expand the business there.

Sramana Mitra: That was in 2007 that you sold the company?

Rafael Sweary: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: Can you give us any ballpark of the range of the deal size?

Rafael Sweary: I can’t.

Sramana Mitra: But you made some money off that company?

Rafael Sweary: Yes. After we sold Jetro, some of the investors invited me to become their entrepreneur-in-residence initially. Then they made me a Venture Partner. That gave me some exposure to financing of other businesses and looking at it from the investors’ perspective.

Sramana Mitra: Where was this all happening?

Rafael Sweary: We were in Tel Aviv.

Sramana Mitra: The firm in which you were becoming entrepreneur-in-residence is where? In Tel Aviv?

Rafael Sweary: Yes.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do during that time? What was your process to come up with your next venture?

Rafael Sweary: I ended up not coming up with my next venture there. I was running through different investments and I felt that investments were not for me. I felt like a coach and not a player and I wanted to be a player. I went back into doing my own kind of small ventures. I didn’t want to build a big company because building a big company is very hard. You have to do a lot of sacrifices. At that time, I had young kids and I wanted to focus on simpler type of ventures. All the time, I was very involved and hands-on. This is how WalkMe started.

Sramana Mitra: What was the concept of WalkMe?

Rafael Sweary: One of co-founder’s mom used to call him and ask him how to use online banking. She would ask him to help her operate her online bank account. In order to help her, he would log into the same website and would try to do it on his own. Then he would tell her on the phone, “Mom, click on the green button.” “Where is the green button?” “It’s on the left-hand side.” “I don’t see it.” He used to walk her through the phone.

After a month, she’d call again with the same question. He said, “There must be a better way for helping people use websites.” When he couldn’t find one, this is when he came up with the idea for WalkMe.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Scaling a Fast Growth, Venture-Funded Company: Rafael Sweary, Co-Founder and President of WalkMe
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