Yoav Hochberg: Creating Opportunities for the Businesses that Change the World
Managing Partner & Co-Founder of NEXTLEAP Ventures, Senior adjunct lecturer in the Technion (Israel’s leading engineering university), Former VP of Strategic Planning & Business Development at Intel, and Former Board Member of Israel Advanced Technology Industries — looking at the designations, one can easily deduce why Yoav Hochberg is a part of our elite group of ‘Best Business Leaders in Israel’. Yoav has over 35 years of experience in the development of Hardware and Software, leadership and management of technology teams at Intel, and as a strategic investor in Intel capital, prior to founding NEXTLEAP Ventures. As the VP of strategic planning and Business Development at Intel, he led teams responsible for the product definition of many of Intel’s mainstream products that generated over 80 percent of Intel’s revenue (2004-2016).
His team was also chartered to develop disruptive technologies, execute the competitive analysis and drive interactions with the ecosystem through investments and M&A. Yoav established and led the Mobile Platform Group Business Development organization, in this role he was responsible for driving the worldwide deployment of Wi-Fi as part of the Centrino platform launch, twenty years ago. In 2017, Yoav, with six other expert professionals decided to utilize the tools, processes, knowledge, expertise, and experience that they have developed over decades at Intel and apply them to increase the probability of success and returns in investing in early-stage deep technology Israeli companies. This led to the establishment of NEXTLEAP Ventures.
Today they continue to identify and invest in promising start-ups that address some of the world’s biggest problems by utilizing deep technology in AI, Sustainability, Digital Health, Computational Biology, and more. NEXTLEAP Ventures helps these start-ups navigate the complex world of Business Technology and usage to become leaders in their domains making the world a better place. Let’s hear it from Yoav.
How would you define NEXTLEAP Ventures as an organization? Tell us about your flagship offerings.
NEXTLEAP Ventures harnesses the expertise & experience of about 100 former & current Intel executives for smart & intelligent investments in early-stage start-ups. It is a young but very experienced Venture Capital organization. The seven partners collectively have over 200 years of experience in operational positions with proven results. These include areas such as investing, engineering, technology, strategy, marketing, business development, finance, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, and management. Our approach and methodology allow us to identify and help the start-ups that develop game-changing technologies and proven methodologies that will solve some of the biggest problems, Our experience spans deep technology development combined with a track record of bringing these technologies to reality. This helps us in identifying the diamonds in the rough and helps polish them to become gems. The CEOs of our portfolio companies tell us that we bring the highest amount of value per dollar than any other investor.
What has been your success mantra?
Success can be measured in many dimensions: results that we achieved, people that we influenced, the impact we created, and our happiness and fulfillment. These are different dimensions and I don’t think there is a single mantra for success. I believe several fundamental elements help us along the way.
First and foremost, I believe there is a flow that if you apply it consistently you increases your probability of success, especially on the big things. I call this the Vision-Strategy-Action flow and it includes 6 elements Think-Plan-Stage-Execute-Monitor-Learn. Think - You start by Thinking about what we are trying to achieve in a result-oriented manner and what will the world look like once we have succeeded. PLAN - develop a strategy and plan on how we are going to achieve it be careful not to fall into the analysis paralysis trap. STAGE- Identity what is needed for success and make sure we have it in place before starting to execute. EXECUTE – turn plans into reality — even the best strategy is worthless if we don’t take meaningful action to implement it.
Our next step is to monitor, no plan survives the first meeting with reality so we monitor progress against the plan so we can adapt to changes and react. Last but not least is continuous learning over the years, I have learned to look at what has happened and ask myself and others what worked, what didn’t and how can we do it better next time. This brings us back to thinking. Doing this consistently has helped us to achieve better results in a consistent manner.
"The advances in computing power, AI, & ever-improving knowledge & understanding of what makes us tick will lead at an increasing pace to discoveries &solutions to some of our biggest problems"
How would you describe yourself as a leader?
I believe in caring about my team, respecting them, and operating with integrity; only then, as a leader, I can set an example for people, walk the talk and mean it. We need to create and set the vision, instill the culture, build and develop the capabilities of the team, trust them to reach the goal and help in removing roadblocks that interfere with turning the vision into reality. The role of leaders is to produce more leaders, not more followers.
As an experienced leader, I believe it is important to educate and share my acquired experiences with the next generation. So, I am an adjunct senior lecturer in Technion where I teach Strategic Planning in multinational companies, Advanced Entrepreneurship, and Business Development. I am also a certified Executive Coach and a Neurolinguistic Programming Practitioner. These skills are helping me to effectively mentor startup CEOs and founders.
What are your views and anticipations about the future?
We live in a VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity) exponential world the exponential factor is mostly driven by rapid technological advancements. Some people say that in such an environment we are unable to plan and strategize but I think differently I believe that in today's environment looking ahead five years from today requires tools, methodologies, and capabilities that we used 20 years ago to look 20 years out. Things have gotten much closer and happen faster creating a bigger impact. But the main limitation that we have in dealing with the VUCA exponential environment is our linear brain. So, we must take extra care and deliberate actions to minimize the limitations and be able to operate in such an environment.
I call this Strategy, Technology, and the Brain. I believe we are at a unique time where two universes are converging - the physical one which consists of biological (people, animals, plants) and nonorganic (things, machines) elements, and the cyber one which is composed of digital and virtual - driving the new cyber-physical reality. The advances in computing power, AI, and ever-improving knowledge and understanding of what makes us tick will lead at an increasing pace to discoveries and solutions to some of our biggest problems. For example, Multi-omics will help us understand the unique genetics of every person and how it is affected by the environment we live in; Think about sequencing the DNA of every person born and having a 'Digital Twin' that can forecast and simulate how we will react to foods, medicine, environment and what preventive actions we need to take to preserve our well being. This is science, not science fiction, we will be able to design and manufacture new enzymes enhancing biomanufacturing and building a much more sustainable future.
What would be your advice for budding industry leaders?
James Dean said, 'I cannot change the direction of the wind but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination'. I think this describes the essence of strategic thinking, leaders need to do three things: Have a clear vision of where they are going, analyze the impacting forces and trends in the ecosystem such as winds, currents, and waves that help, these forces may also prevent or deter you from achieving success and reaching the goal, last but not least have the ability to execute. They need to know how their ship operates and what makes it tick and accordingly turn plans into reality, set the sails, manage the people, steer the ship, and adjust the ropes.
It is about having our heads in the air but our feet on the ground. So, if we know where we are going, have a good understanding of the forces around us, and know how to operate and do this consistently with tenacity perseverance, and grit, we will be able to achieve great things and make a positive impact in our personal and professional lives and on our community.
Yoav Hochberg, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, NEXTLEAP Ventures
With over 35 years of diverse experience across investments, engineering, Business development & strategy, Yoav is a Board Member and Strategic Advisor to Startups and Multinational Corporations, a Strategic Advisor and Mentor in the Technion Startup Accelerator, an Executive Coach, and an adjunct Senior Lecturer in the Technion.
Awards & Recognitions:
• Two times recipient of the IAA (Intel Achievement Award the highest outstanding achievements award for Intel employees)