How Solvo’s Co-Founder Got the ‘Guts’ to Be an Entrepreneur
When she was a student in her native Israel, Shira Shamban was a self-proclaimed “geek.”
But, unusually for a tech company founder and CEO, not a computer geek.
Shamban was a science nerd, with her sights set on becoming a doctor. But first, she had to do her state-mandated military service. And that’s where her path diverged.
In the military, she was not only immersed in computers but spent years working in intelligence; she stayed in the service for more than a decade, eventually rising to become head of an intelligence sector for the Israeli Defense Forces. At home, she began building her own projects to experiment with ideas that could help her team.
“So that kind of helped me not to be intimidated by technology, to learn that I can learn anything I want by myself,” said Shamban, co-founder of Solvo, a company focused on data and cloud infrastructure security. “And the most important thing is to just try out things that you learn.”
To date, Solvo has raised about $11 million through investors like Surround Ventures, Magenta Venture Partners, TLV Partners and others. In this episode of The New Stack Makers podcast series The Tech Founder Odyssey, Shamban talked to Heather Joslyn and Colleen Coll of TNS about her journey.
Shamban opted to stay in the technology world, nurturing a desire to eventually start her own company. It was during a stint at Dome9, a cloud security company, that she met her future Solvo co-founder, David Hendri — and built a foundation for entrepreneurship.
“After that episode, I got the guts,” she said. “Or I got stupid enough.”
Hendri, now Solvo’s chief technology officer, struck Shamban as having the right sensibility to be a partner in a startup. At Dome9, she said, “very often, I used to stay up late in the office, and I would see him as well. So we’d grab something to eat.”
Their casual conversations quickly revealed that Hendri was often staying late to troubleshoot issues that were not his or his team’s responsibility, but simply things that someone needed to fix. That sense of ownership, she realized, “is exactly the kind of approach one would need to bring to the table in a startup.”
The mealtime chats that started Solvo have carried over into its current organizational culture. The company employs 20 people; workers based in Tel Aviv are expected to come to the office four days a week.
Hendri and Shamban started their company in the auspicious month of March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic started. While many companies have moved to all-remote work, Solvo never did.
“We knew we wanted to sit together in the same room, because the conversations you have over a cup of coffee are not the same ones that you have on a chat, and on Slack,” the CEO said. “So that was our decision. And for a long time, it was an unpopular decision.”
As the company scales, finding employees who align with its culture can make recruiting tricky, Shamban said.
It’s not only about your technical expertise, it’s also about what kind of person you are,” she said. “Sometimes we found very professional people that we didn’t think would make a good fit to the culture that we want to build. So we did not hire them. And in the boom times, when it was really hard to hire engineers.
“These were tough decisions. But we had to make them because we knew that building a culture is easier in a way than fixing a culture.
Listen to the full episode to hear more about Shamban’s journey.