Israeli Entrepreneur Makes His “Waze” to SXSW  | Shalom Austin

Israeli Entrepreneur Makes His “Waze” to SXSW 

The Jewish Outlook

Mar 16, 2023

Uri Levine. Courtesy: Adibarill Communications

By Allison Teegardin 

Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation app, and author of the book, “Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution – A Handbook for Entrepreneurs,” spoke about entrepreneurship to a packed SXSW audience on March 11, 2023, at the Hilton Austin Downtown.  

Levine is a graduate of Tel-Aviv University and served in the Israeli army at special intelligence unit 8200. He currently serves on the board of trustees at Tel-Aviv University. In 2006, Levine developed Waze because he hated traffic and wanted to be part of a solution. “The magic of Waze is that we, the drivers, create all of the content that is being used by the application,” he said. In 2013, Google acquired Waze for $1.1 billion. The day after the acquisition, Levine left Waze and went on to the next startup.  

Being in the high-tech business for the last 40 years, with 20-plus years focused on startups, Levine knows a thing or two about everything ranging from failure to moderate success, to immense success. During his one-hour SXSW session, Levine shared insights, tips, and even personal anecdotes about his own entrepreneurial journey. “Think about building a startup like falling in love,” Levine said. “You have to be in love to go into this journey because it is going to be very challenging.” 

After immediately grabbing the audience’s attention with a friendly and humorous stage presence, Levine dove into specific advice for startup success. First, is finding a solution to a problem that impacts many people. Next, is embracing the fact that there will be failures along the way and to fail fast. “Every time you fail, you get up stronger and better and are not afraid to fail the next time.” Levine encouraged.  

The session continued with tips about finding product marketplace, learning how to tell the brand’s story as well as the importance of having the right team in place. “Creating a good story is about emotional connection, not about facts,” Levine said. “You want people to be part of the story.” 

As he wrapped up, Levine stressed the importance of people understanding that not everyone is the same and therefore not everyone uses products and apps the same. “We are a sample of one person. If we want our product to be successful, we need to understand there are people not like us. They will use the product differently and have their own limitations. You need to understand your users.” he said. 

The session concluded with an audience Q&A session and a book signing with Levine.  

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