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Hanukkah Miracle and the Startup Journey

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah is about miracles. It tells the tale of a little oil lamp that sufficed for eight days of lights and we commemorate it by lighting eight candles menorah this week.

But how important are miracles in the life of a startup? Pure luck and bad luck in the life of a startup?

I heard the following story: a very successful real estate builder was once interviewed by the press and asked how he became that successful. His answer was “to be honest, it is about 85% luck and 15% experience, knowledge, and expertise.” At this phase the reporter asked, “if you could change one thing in the future and trajectory of your real estate empire, what would you change?” to which he answered “, I would change the 15% experience, knowledge, and expertise with additional 15% luck.”

When Success meets Readiness

Luck and miracles have a lot to do with success or failures of startups, and let me define luck as the following “when an opportunity meets readiness”.

Many of my startups have seen pure luck, bad luck, were nearly dead and recovered through their journeys. Even Waze was nearly dead, (even Google, but that’s another story).

Waze struggled to raise its second financing round (stories, and details in my book…), and we were scheduled to have an all-partners meeting with a leading VC in the valley. Noam Bardin (Waze CEO at the time) and I traveled there for this meeting and we had dinner the night before with the partner who was promoting us to the fund.

He was a bit anxious and tried to guide us, and we spoke at length about competition, stating that Google maps is the only relevant competitor as they are free, but didn’t have turn by turn navigation as they licensed the maps from Tomtom. The partner calmed us down saying that his tight connections in the industry don’t anticipate Google doing turn-by-turn navigation for at least two more years.

We went to sleep, to discover in the morning that at the same night Google announced its turn-by-turn navigation application, and Noam and I wondered if we should even go to the all-partners meeting.

We eventually raised capital about a month away from running out of cash, and actually thanks to this announcement of Google.

The ‘never give-up’ attitude

Travel startups during Covid needed a miracle to survive and through thoughtful execution, the ‘never give up’ attitude and “Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat” mode survived and now enjoy the blossom of ‘after the winter’.

To sum it up, building a startup is a long roller coaster journey, in which you will see peaks and valleys, enjoy luck, and suffer from bad luck.  You might even see miracles, but in order to see all these you need to be there.

You will have to be persistent. Grit, passion, and perseverance will increase the likelihood of being successful.


Wishing you an amazing journey and success.

Happy holidays


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