The following feature is part of a series of posts highlighting the stories of entrepreneurial women in the Israeli start-up scene. Find out what they believe it takes to get ahead in the largely male-dominated industry, the various challenges their companies face, and hurdles they’ve overcome.

In an insightful interview with self-described computer geek and biz wiz, Orly Shoavi, the co-founder and CEO of SafeDK, shares her story of outstanding success and the challenges that go along with building a company. With an MBA and Computer Science degrees and vast experience in R&D, programming, and product management, Orly was able to harness her business and technical knowledge to build a company from the ground up, and guide her team through the phases of a developing start-up.

Orly shares her story, providing valuable entrepreneurial advice.  

Tell us a little bit about your company. 

SafeDK is a complete mobile SDKs management platform, enabling app publishers to monitor and control mobile SDKs in real-time, and therefore build better and safer apps. SafeDK covers the entire span of the app development cycle, from finding the top rated SDKs in the SafeDK Marketplace to ongoing monitoring and real-time control of the SDKs. SafeDK was founded in September 2014 by Orly Shoavi and Ronnie Sternberg, and is headquartered in Herzliya, Israel. The company is funded by StageOne VC, Check Point’s co-founder Marius Nacht, Samsung Next Tel Aviv and additional top Israeli angels.

What is the biggest challenge your company faces?

Hiring in the US. It’s not easy managing global operations from Israel, and this forces us to hire staff in the US. This is difficult in terms of culture gaps, time differences and remote management.

What from your background helps you in your journey as an entrepreneur?

Up until the completion of our A Round, I was also directly managing the R&D and product. My vast experience as a programmer and R&D manager, as well as my 2 Computer Science degrees from the Technion, helped a lot. I was also a product manager in my past, so it was great to build a product from scratch based on my experience.

As for the business side, I was in charge of business development in a company called Telmap and after it was acquired by Intel, I did the same at Intel for a while. This work experience, along with my MBA from TAU and the connections I made over the years in my IDF Unit (8200), workplaces and degrees, helped me a lot with the business aspects of our company as well as with the hiring.

Why do you think we don’t see more female founders?

I think it has to do with low self-confidence. In the high-tech world, which is dominated by men, it might be hard to feel comfortable and capable of building something on your own.

What is one piece of advice you would give to other entrepreneurs in general, and female ones in specific?

Just do it. It’s true for starting a new venture and it is true along the journey. You feel a burning desire in your bones that you want to start your own company? You need to pitch it in front of global tier-1 VCs or present at a big conference? Going out to get a Fortune 100 company as a customer? Get out of your comfort zone, do things that scare you and you’ll progress faster and better.

Women powering Israeli innovation: Orly Shoavi

For the past 20 years, Inbal took a leading role in the flourishing Israeli Hi-Tech sector and serves as Senior Advisor to Start-Up Nation Central. Featured as one of the 100 Most Influential people in Israeli hi-tech and as one of the 100-tech-business-women-speakers in the world. Inbal lectures widely on the Israeli innovation and start-up ecosystem to business and government leaders in Israel and abroad. Among her most popular lectures is “The Roots of Entrepreneurship,” which analyzes how Israeli culture breeds entrepreneurship at a very young age. After serving as a Lieutenant in 8200 and as Head of Faculty at the Intelligence Officers’ School, Inbal was Executive Member and General Counsel to several Israeli high-tech companies and start-ups. Unable to fight the entrepreneurial bug, she founded a series of resources for innovators and top entrepreneurs, providing them access to the secret sauce and unique methodologies developed in Israel’s elite units.

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