From Israeli Defense to Tech: A Former Female Captain Joins the New Wave of Silicon Valley Founders

If you are a female immigrant, you have to work extra hard on taking the necessary steps that will give you leverage in reaching your goals faster.

Adi Bittan, CEO and Co-Founder of OwnerListens, a Femigrant from Israel

Adi Bittans’s journey that led to the launch her own company – Owner Listens Inc. – holds many keys for aspiring immigrant women entrepreneurs.

Prior to coming to US, Adi –  a graduate of Hebrew University of Jerusalem with an LL.B & LL.M degree, was a Captain in the Israel Defense Forces and an attorney for the Israeli government’s top planning commission, appearing in Parliament and handling Supreme Court cases.

Adi set a goal in [year] and carefully planned her entry to Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial scene.  Her key move was to pick a position – a place from which to launch her dreams, which in itself was no little challenge: that place was Stanford’s Top Ranked MBA program.

Stanford, with its powerful brand and network, was indeed a right move for Adi. The ties and mentors she gained during her time at Stanford have been instrumental in launching OwnerListens. It is a company that is set transform the way businesses connect with their customers – using text messaging, chat-bots, and conversational interfaces. Just a few weeks ago, OwnerListens was one of the top three companies to receive CRM’s Service Elite award as a premier provider of customer contact center outsourcing.

Her credentials, military-grade work ethic, perseverance and rigorous work training were all indispensable assets to thrive in the Valley’s ‘boy’s club’.

But, even with these powerful tools in her belt, Adi acknowledges the challenges of the Valley’s bro culture and shares her tips on navigating it, “It is not easy to build a business in the valley, especially if you are a female immigrant  You have to work extra hard on taking the necessary steps that will give you leverage in reaching your goals faster. For me, it was attending Stanford. Its prestige, network, geographical location, and yes, the academics too, that gave me a stellar head-start”.

“But that’s not enough,” adds Adi. “Courage is key. You have to be brave; Talk to people, represent your business and make people believe that your business will benefit them. You have to invest in research and practice. Talk in front of the mirror, prepare questions and answers that you might be asked. And, when you attend an event, listen intently to people and find the one that can be a hook for you to start a conversation. Enlisting other people as allies is key to success. Classmates, mentors, professors, friends, and any interested people you meet along the way. Also helps to have a supportive partner like my husband.“

Adi’s take on where we are heading to achieve equal opportunity and participation of men and women in the industry is quite positive. But as a female entrepreneur, Adi realizes that the challenges women face are deeply rooted in the not so distant history of the industrial age male dominance that have so evidently carried themselves through to modern days. When asked about her , Adi sent us this powerful paragraph by Roosevelt and said ‘just replace the word ‘men’ with ‘women’:

Her favorite quote is

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

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