Speaker > Biography
Biography of Eyal Kaplan, G’90 WG’90
I like to think of venture capital as a lot like surfing. Surfers continuously evaluate weather conditions: the water, the currents, the winds and the waves. While many good waves come and go, the ultimate goal is to catch the biggest wave--the one that will give you the best ride. The success of the surfing is determined by the size of the wave and the quality of the surfer--although one can often compensate for the other. The challenge of venture capital lies in identifying the best waves of technology and market and matching them to talented entrepreneurs who have the vision to ride them. The rest is a lot like surfing, too: although it may look easy from the outside, building a successful company is a lot of hard work.
I learned about company building first-hand, having worked for almost five years in the U.S. with Geotek Communications, an American start-up that relied on Israeli technology to embark on a very ambitious vision. As one of the early senior executives at Geotek, I experienced the unique challenges of an entrepreneurial high-tech culture. I oversaw product management, marketing and business development activities, and led Geotek's efforts as one of the pioneers in the Wireless and Mobile Data space. In a short period, I helped to grow a small group to 400 people, penetrate international markets and develop sales, marketing and business development activities on a global level.
I also learned that working globally in today's international marketplace means a lot more than opening offices around the world. It means understanding how the many financial, business, cultural, demographic and social aspects of doing business come together. My MBA training at the Wharton School of Business and the Lauder Institute of International Studies prepared me for working in a truly global environment. As the first Israeli student in this joint program, I chose my areas of focus to be the U.S. and East Asia. We studied how the Asian business culture is affected by social and cultural norms, as well as the Japanese language, culture and history of science in ancient Asia. Conducting negotiations in Japan, for example, is very different from Hong Kong or the U.S. Knowing how to read a business card can be an integral part of doing business in Japan--and may make the difference in closing a successful deal.
I didn't realize how quickly I would be applying this knowledge. When I joined Walden in 1994, with its extensive network and strategic relationships around the world and in the Pacific Rim, it turned out to be a continuation of the same thread. Walden Israel truly operates as a global venture capital firm. I view my mission at Walden Israel as helping entrepreneurs build great companies by building a partnership with quality service, professional expertise and partnerships with a commitment to excellence--all while understanding and recognizing the challenges of starting and growing a company.
When I'm not working in Walden's offices and portfolio companies around the globe, I spend my free time outdoors. I enjoy travelling and have journeyed through the Arctic several times - by foot, kayak, snowmobile and canoe.