A Slice on Yuval Brisker, Co-Founder, CEO and President of Alviere
If ever the power of pivot needed an ambassador, Yuval Brisker, the Co-Founder, CEO and President of Alviere would be a frontrunner in that race. Starting off as an architect, he transitioned very swiftly into the world of technology. That was his first pivot. As an architect, he saw the power and impact of technology which led him to start his first company, one that provided computer-generated imagery services to developers, architects and construction companies globally. This blended architecture and technology, leading to a smooth move from one world to another.
After working for a few years as an employee in the tech field, Brisker decided to start off by himself, resulting in TOA Technologies. This was in 2003. Very soon TOA found itself on the radar of Oracle, and in 2014, when Oracle bought it, TOA Technologies had over 800 employees and was operating globally. Brisker was one of the first architects to use CAD; similarly, TOA was one of the earliest companies that built an enterprise solution on the SaaS platform. A lesson for all aspiring entrepreneurs, when you bring the future to you, instead of waiting for it, you get a huge advantage.
They hadn’t started out wanting to build a company that would be sold. It was, however, validation of all they had accomplished that an organization like Oracle was interested in them. It spoke a lot about the value they created and the goodwill they had earned from their customers, employees and everyone associated with TOA. To quote Brisker, “It was an exciting ride for me because starting out from completely nothing, from just two guys with no money in a kitchen in Cleveland, Ohio, with a dream, an idea and ambition. Turning that into something that ended up being worth a lot of money, and along the way building enormously positive relationships with people and with customers was very gratifying. And, doing so on a global scale!” Of course, at some level, it was a little difficult letting go of something they had built from the ground up, but their sense of accomplishment more than made up for it.
Brisker spent the next two years at Oracle, successfully integrating the company. In 2016, once he finished the integration stint at Oracle, Brisker decided to start another company with a co-founder, resulting in Mezu, yet another pivot. Mezu was the first payment app that would allow people to exchange money (like Venmo or Cash App) but without having to exchange personal information. They built an incredible platform, taking into account the financial requirements of their customers. Yet another lesson, to always have one’s finger on the pulse of customer requirements and another on the environment you are operating within. It was this awareness of the environment that helped Brisker and his co-founder realize early on that they needed a re-think. Instead of going head-to-head with Venmo and Cash App, they pivoted, once again. Pivots are powerful because the faster one comes to terms with what is not working and changing, the better it is. All of Brisker’s decisions prove this in spades.
What happened next is very rare, how many times have we heard of co-founders bringing the shutters down on one company and laying the foundation of a new one all on the same day? This is how Mezu ended and Alviere came into being. They had achieved relationships, employees, products and technology and much more, there was no way they were going to let it go waste. So, the two co-founders conversed about what they could do with what they had, instead of whether they should shut down the business. The whole team rallied around the idea of continuing to work together, to create something out of what they had built. The decision to pivot and reincarnate as Alviere was a complete joint decision. In a symbolic move, the entire team gathered in a zoom meeting and collectively changed their LinkedIn profiles to say Mezu was closed, and that they all worked for Alviere. Magic!
If we look at what motivates him, the reasons would probably resonate with most entrepreneurs out there: to solve a problem, to provide value (to customers, vendors, investors, and employees), to build a lasting legacy, to be in charge. Brisker jokes that since he knew he wasn’t ever going to be a great employee, he might as well be a great initiator of business. He says, “I really wanted to build the kind of workplace and enterprise that would be great to work for and have as a company providing services. So that was really my impetus, my catalyst for starting my own businesses.”
He recommends to those aspiring to start a business, and are confused about which one of the many ideas they should focus on, it’s best to figure out what one doesn’t want to do. The process of elimination really helps. That then brings us closer to what we would like to be involved in. He stresses the power of pivoting in the right direction, at the right time. This is one of the key takeaways from Brisker’s experiences as an entrepreneur.
Brisker doesn’t see himself retiring, for him, retirement is not a goal, ever. Quite the serial entrepreneur, he says, “I can only think about productivity and how do you maintain a productive life, and the only way to do that when you’re an entrepreneur is starting another company. Just keep going and have a different idea. And for me, it was really about doing something different, not doing the same thing over and over and over again. From architecture to enterprise software; from selling to Oracle to starting this company [Alviere]. A very exciting ride.” And we have to agree, quite a ride indeed!
Yuval Brisker focused his undergrad studies on architecture and started his career as an architect before transitioning into technology. He’s co-founded multiple companies, including VIA (Visual Information Architecture), TOA Technologies, Mezu and his current venture, Alviere. Connect with Brisker on LinkedIn.