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January 18, 2016

The Rockstar Geek Shares His business Secrets with Yossi Hasson of Synaq

So in life, we find that things may not work 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 serial entrepreneur from South Africa and co-founder of Synaq. We had the interview in March 2015, and it was scheduled to be released in early April. But, I somehow forgot to upload the 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 personally 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 seems to be 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.  He used some of the money he earned to buy a Stallion XT computer for gaming and was from that point 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.  In the course of this venture, 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 in the early days but never led to any 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. They finally got back to talking about building a business together and created 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 other 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 need much 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.

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.




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