MVM: What is the tech scene in Israel like right now? How long has been that way?
HF: Israel is pretty much either first or second to Silicon Valley, in pretty much every vertical of technology. In terms of cyber security, we’re leading the way. In terms of enterprise, and higher end technology, I’d say we’re leading the way. When it comes to consumer, we’re not there yet.
It’s definitely one of the most concentrated tech scenes in the world. There’s more entrepreneurs per capita than any other country in the world. We have more companies on NASDAQ than any other country in the world except the US and China. We’re a country the size of New Jersey, which is kind of insane if you think about it.
Both the quality and quantity of startups and innovation in Israel is off the hook. Completely Nuts!
You’re doing some advisory roles… does that play into that? What else are you working on?
The way this all kind of went down, like 12 years ago… before anyone was blogging, before “blogging” was a word, I started blogging about tech. Just because I love tech. Then Start ups would read my articles and be like, you know: “I read your article and would love to meet.”
I’d be like “sure, let’s meet.” So, I’d meet with the startup and kind of help them you know, sharpen their pitch or go to investors or whatever. So they’d tell their friends and startups kind of started reaching out.
I’m like “how’d this all happen?” It all happened through my blogging. I decided to go all in on this strategy. Then I started writing about Israeli tech for Techcrunch, TNW, Mashable, Gizmodo, Business Insider, Huff-Po, and the like, basically anyone who wanted to write about Israeli tech. I was their guy.
Startups started to reach out like crazy. That kind of ballooned up a lot. I’d sit with a start up, and out of the many, many hundreds of startups that I’ve seen over the last 10 years, I’d say 15 to 17 of them were really, really impressive. So I’d join them as an advisor. After helping them in one way or another, they’d come back and say: “Dude, you really helped us in a major way. Join us and take equity in the company. Help us go to market.”
That’s kind of… the first hat is blogging. So I have hat #1.
Hat #2 is startup advisory, where 95% of it, is not monetized. It’s where I’m meeting startups for lunch or whatever, and helping them in anyway that I can. Then 5% is companies that really impress me, and I’ll join those in a more fiscal capacity.
Hat #3 is my own startup: ZCast. Which I’m the founder of. It’s a podcasting platform that makes podcasting easy.
Hat #4 is... because I’m very, very active on the scene and writing in all of these places, I’ve built up a nice following online and on platforms. A lot of big brands work with influencers, so they came to me, and said “help us spread the word.” Like Google has a Google Developers experts program, where they bring experts from around the world to Silicon Valley, to their headquarters once a year. So I’m part of that program.
Huawei brings me to their headquarters in China, and then brought me to Barcelona last year. Some companies… like Apple, Apple will send me stuff to review. I don’t have a more serious relationship with Apple, it’s just literally reviewing. Like they’ll send the iPad Pro and whatever.
Some companies, like Bose, send headphones. Those are like just as a blogger. Then there’s some companies where I’m an “influencer.” Whatever the hell that means. So that’s kind of the fourth hat.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to content and just trying to do good. I’ll spend a lot of time helping people and trying to help the ecosystem move forward. Somebody even said that it’s crazy how much time I spend without charging… but I fundamentally believe in that kind of marketing. When everyone is trying to sell… when everyone else is taking, I’m giving. It works.
It’s funny you mentioned Google. It was actually one of my questions. I would love to understand more about the Google Marketing Experts Program.
Yeah, Google Developers Experts. They have experts in engineering, experts in Design, in UX, and marketing experts. So they bring in all the experts to their headquarters once a year, to the Google Developers Experts summit. And So I’m in the Marketing Experts Program.
I also wanted to ask you a little more about ZCast and any other apps that you’re liking right now (in 2017). What’s hot and coming up?
Sure. So, ZCast came from a real need, because podcasting is growing exponentially. People are listening to podcasts by the hundreds and hundreds of millions… it’s crazy. And so, there’s so many players out there dealing with distribution of podcasts, the monetization of podcasts, etc. And almost no one has removed the barrier to actually podcasting.
If I wanted to speak to my friend in California, and my other friend in Tel Aviv, and my other friend in, wherever… in New York. I want to have a group conversation right? And let’s say that we’re five investors, who want to talk about how to raise capital. I want startups to be able to listen to this conversation right? To gain knowledge.
So, that concept is a super simple concept, and yet, we’re familiar with it in the form of conferences, where there are panels. But, in the digital world, it’s super complicated to do. It’s like taking Skype and add-ons, and editing. It’s a huge headache. So I was like “Why is it so complicated?” We just created a super simple app where you define the topic, add in your guest speakers, and you’re live. That’s it. You’re podcasting.
Let’s say that you do figure it out, right? You managed to interview your people, and you have your MP3 file. Just to get that on iTunes, just that alone… uploading that file to iTunes is a huge pain in the ass! There’s no upload button. You need like an RSS feed, and I’m like “What the hell is an RSS feed? I have an MP3!” It’s crazy! So that’s it. It’s literally one button in ZCast. Boom! Uploaded to iTunes. It simplified podcasting. So that’s what we built. We launched it last year and it went fairly viral. Launching is crazy you know, but it’s a launch! So we still need to raise money and you know… we’re starting.
Yes! I’m going to check that out. That’s EXACTLY what kept from getting three finished podcasts live right now.
Yeah, it’s ZCast.co. It’s super easy to use.
I was reading a couple of your posts and I came across the Alyssa Milano interview. You mentioned in it that all of the sudden you had an influx of thousands of Twitter followers. What is that like?
Yeah, that’s cute and all, but I think the amazing thing, a lesson for entrepreneurs was that… You know, I grew up watching Alyssa Milano on TV and like I followed her on Twitter. She’s like a huge geek, and loves tech. I loved her tweets. So I’m sitting at home one day and get a push notification that said “Alyssa Milano is following you back on Twitter.”
I’m like “How in the Hell did that happen?” So I wrote her, and I’m like “Dude, WTF… how did you come across me?” She’s like “Listen, every day, day in and day out, people are tweeting your blog posts. I keep seeing your name in my feed. I was like who is this Hillel Fuld guy? So I came to your bio, you had a nice picture, and you seemed like a nice guy. You help people.”
So I was like, yeah, why not? Since then, we’re good buddies. Like I was jammin’ with her last night, like we’re friends now. And that all happened for one reason, and one reason only. Because I was blogging. Because I was giving content. I wasn’t asking for praise, I wasn’t selling. I was just giving. That’s the bottom line. That’s the lesson. Everything I’ve ever done has been in giving mode.
I like that. I appreciate that.
I’m a big fan. It works man, I’m telling you. Forget everything else… If you give someone value, it ends up coming back to you in a major way. It always does.
That’s good advice. Thanks for that.
You also said that after her tweets, that your site crashed several times. I was going to ask, are you on a hosting package that can handle that influx now?
Yeah, I am actually. It happened one too many times.
Haha, were you sweating when that happened?
Yeah, I mean… you know we laugh about it, but a tweet from her is like literally 10,000 visitors at the same second on your site. It’s pretty crazy. By the way, just so you know, Casey Neistat just posted his video… and, um he retweeted me two days ago and my Twitter is exploding.
He literally retweeted one of my tweets, and my Twitter exploded. But you know, that’s another example. I emailed Casey a few days ago, because I saw one of his videos and all of the things he does in his studio. So I wrote him, and was like “by the way, you should know about this platform. It’s a platform for DIY, and you’d love it.” I was like “I’m not affiliated, you should just know about it.”
Again, I didn’t want anything, I just wanted to give him value. He replied right away and was like “thank you very much.” I don’t want anything, but I’ll tell you one thing, if he keeps seeing me as person who is giving him value… when I do “need something” or when I’m in New York and I want to meet him, along with the entire world who wants to meet him, when he starts recognizing me as person who gives him value, while everyone else is yelling to him, it’s going to come back.
Yeah, I like that. OK, this is kind of switching topics, but I was wondering if you have any recommendations for the readers on building brand, brand awareness, or an audience?
You haven’t switched topics. Same topic my friend. Ok, think about this, do you drink Red Bull?
Yeah, I used to. I used to drink them a lot.
Can you think of many brands that have a stronger brand than Red Bull? If you look at redbull.com, you’ll notice something very interesting. There is one word missing from their site. The word ‘Beverage.’ They literally are not selling a drink. What are they selling? They’re selling content. They’re selling energy.
They’re giving content! They’re not selling anything, and that’s how you build a brand. You need to be in giving mode. When everyone else is in selling mode, you be in giving mode. Build content. Build presence. Build a resource, so that when someone asks a question on Twitter, you’re the first person to answer. Be there. They're in giving mode all the time. That’s how you build a brand.
Look at all the brands, it’s the same thing. All of the big brands are focused on giving content and less about selling.
Do you have two people on Twitter, or Snapchat, on social media in general… that people should keep an eye on?
Yeah. I am obsessed with both Casey Neistat and Marques Brownlee (MKBHD). They’re both just legends. They’re just super, duper creative. They’re doing amazing work on all of the platforms. They’re engaged. They’re interesting.
You never get bored of them. They work their asses off. Like people see the results. You watch Casey Neistat’s video and be like “oh, this is great!” What you don't realize is that the guy works 21 hours a day. They’re both phenomenal people.
There are other great people on Snapchat like Mark Suster and Marc Andreessen. There’s a lot of big VCs and a lot of big players in tech that are active there… but for me, in terms of storytelling, there’s nothing like Casey Neistat. He’s a legend.
One of the main goals of Minimum Viable Media, is like that 80/20 principle. To leverage whenever possible. With that in mind, if you had to limit your interviews to just three questions, what are your three favorites to ask?
Oh Hells yeah!
Hillel, I want to thank you taking time out today for this interview. I really appreciate it!
No problem man. Good luck.
To keep up with what Hillel is working on next, be sure to stop his site at hillelfuld.com and follow him on social media.
Father, husband, driver of digital traffic. Digital advertising professional by day, aspiring storyteller and growth hacker by night. Minimum Viable Media is my sandbox, my classroom, my business card, and my escape (Oxford comma for life!).