Ori Eisen | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Ori Eisen

Background:  

Trusona's Identity Authentication Suite provides a spectrum of solutions spanning from frictionless, #NoPasswords login to insured authentication. Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., Trusona was founded in 2015 by cybersecurity expert Ori Eisen and is funded by Microsoft Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

The Mistake:

I didn’t dream big enough. 

In 2004, I left my day job at American Express to start a company called 41st Parameter. Yet, as a person who loves business, who reads a lot and who knows what’s going on, for some strange reason, I never went to pitch Kleiner Perkins, which at the time was considered the No. 1 venture capital firm in the world. 

I went to 12 different VCs when I raised money for 41st Parameter, but I never called Kleiner Perkins. I never even tried to pitch them. I ended up raising Series A from [another firm], which is a top-tier VC, no doubt, and I went about my business.

A year goes by and the business was taking off. I went for a Series B and I felt slightly different after all the things that had happened. So, I finally went to Kleiner Perkins through a friend, who introduced me. At the end of the presentation, [a renowned investor] looked me in the eye and asked me one question: “Why didn’t you come to us before?” 

My heart sank. The only reason I didn’t go was because I didn’t dream big enough. I didn’t think it was good enough. I didn’t think they would be interested. All of those things go through your mind, but it’s only in your mind.

 If you don’t try, how will you know?

The Lesson:

When we sold 41st Parameter, which was acquired in 2013 by Experian, I remembered that they told us that if we ever started anything else, to come to them first. So, when we started Trusona two years ago, Kleiner Perkins were the Series A investors.

The lesson is: Dare to dream bigger and chase your dreams. Don’t just dream, go after them. For me, it’s probably harder because I wasn’t born here and to an immigrant, everything looked bigger than it probably is. It still looks bigger after 25 years, I can tell you.

If you’re very critical of yourself, and demand yourself to excel all the time, and always set the bar higher and higher, you never believe that if you cross someone like Kleiner Perkins, they would take notice. You kind of have a constant argument with yourself – is this good enough? 

Allow yourself to stop and try to see if you’ve crossed that bar. Otherwise, you might have crossed it many, many moons ago, but will not have realized it. Check the reality of how far you’ve come as an entrepreneur, as a person who wants to do things in business. If you don’t try, how will you know?

Follow Trusona on Twitter at @trusona_inc.

Photo courtesy of Ori Eisen

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