Tech Entrepreneur, Nadav Ullman

We sit down today with serial entrepreneur Nadav Ullman to find out what drives him to build and develop solutions that are solving critical real-world problems. Find out what it’s like to work at a high growth startup company and learn his best tips for tapping into and harnessing your own genuine curiosity to discover what gets you most excited and where you can bring the most meaningful value to an organization or high growth startup company.

MK: Firstly, could you tell us about your background briefly and how you first got interested in entrepreneurship and technology?

NU: My first experience as a tech entrepreneur was in college. I saw people needed rides around campus, but had no easy way to connect to people who could drive them. I didn’t think to myself ‘I want to be an entrepreneur’ but rather, ‘I want to solve this super relevant problem’. After that, I started Dashride, which was ultimately acquired by GM’s Cruise.

Shortly after my time at Cruise, and prior to founding Leverage, I started a non-profit 501(c)(3), Project N95, which became the national clearinghouse for medical equipment at the height of the pandemic. I was primarily driven by the desire to solve a significant problem rather than run a huge organization.

MK: Do you specialize in any specific part of technology? If so, why?

NU: Everything large-scale that I’ve done—Dashride, Project N95, Leverage—is all about moving real material things forward. Allowing people to move atoms, not just bits, so to speak. Whether it’s transporting people via rideshare or moving medical equipment and industrial machinery around the world from global suppliers…that’s what gets me excited. In that sense, I specialize in technology that has an impact on the real world, and we can actually see these things being transported in real-time and improving people’s lives.

Apps that facilitate things like picture sharing are great, but that doesn’t get me going. When a shipment arrives with medical supplies for a hospital, or a person gets to an emergency quicker, via the product that you created, it’s a very rewarding feeling.

MK: What makes your approach unique in the supply chain industry?

NU: Today, the primary way that manufacturing supply chain teams get updates from their suppliers is by manually emailing, calling, and sending PDFs back and forth. This is incredibly antiquated, time consuming, and costly. Before joining the Leverage platform, our customers had to hire anywhere between 10 and 50 people to do this manually all day. There are some solutions out there, like vendor portals or electronic data that allow these companies to automate a small percent of their suppliers.

By leveraging modern technology like AI, we’re getting 100% supplier coverage for our customers and providing really meaningful value on day one. I think, ultimately, this is what is what will allow the industry to modernize quickly and effectively.

MK: What do you love about what you do today?

NU: When I’m in the weeds on the day-to-day, the people I’m surrounded with get me motivated and excited, and make the tough days easier to get through.  The team at Leverage is crazy smart and passionate about building something meaningful. Our customers are motivating, too. When we receive great feedback from them, it builds momentum for both myself and the team.  This morning actually, one of our customers sent a message saying: “we didn’t think something like this was possible, but it’s a total game changer for our organization.” When you have those sorts of conversations, it’s hard not to really believe in what you do.

MK: What is a stereotype / statement about technology for your industry that you want people to know isn’t true?

NU: It’s a funny industry in the sense that the term ‘supply chain’ might sound pretty boring to a lot of people, but having an efficient robust global supply chain is incredibly important and cannot be understated. In a lot of ways, it’s the glue that keeps nations across the world working together peacefully, and what allows lower income nations to rise up to be part of a global economy.

MK: What are some of the challenges you have had to face along the way?

NU: One major challenge that my co-founder and I think about a lot is creating the right team over time. Right now, our employees work here to help make the product great. And everyone on the team today are considered future leaders of the company.

Our management ethos is to empower and unblock all employees, not to micromanage their projects. Because of that, we need to make sure to find folks who are entrepreneurial at heart, proactively identifying issues, prioritizing them, and figuring out how to execute on them. As we scale up hiring each quarter, the challenge of building what we call a championship team only increases.

MK: What are some key trends that you see in the next 1-3 years? (or how do you see the industry changing in the next 1-3 years?)

NU: Tech advancements keep moving the needle on where the bottleneck in supply chains are. With Leverage’s current offering, we’re moving the existing bottleneck of manual labor to gather and predict updates. As ours and other technology platforms continue to evolve, other bottlenecks, such as the skills and knowledge required to make engineering drawings, will collapse as well.  As 3D printers, manufacturing robotics, and compute costs continue to drastically drop, we’ll see the assembly bottlenecks begin to open up, too.  Add in the much longer-term advancements in automated mining for raw materials, and I think it’s going to be pretty mind-blowing to see how today’s highly complex manufacturing become turn-key.

MK: Finally, what’s the biggest piece of advice you could give to someone that wants to work with a high-growth tech startup such as yours.

NU: Only apply to companies where you align with the ‘Why’ behind the company— one you can become passionate about.  The energy and interest you will bring to interviews, and ultimately to your day-to-day job isn’t something that most people can truly fake. Plus, once you do get the job, high-growth companies will be really hard work. Having genuine enthusiasm about what you do is what allows you to see the forest through trees.

MK: What are 3 action steps you can give to readers?

NU: First, research the people behind the company. Find the management teams via LinkedIn and ask yourself: are these people who I can learn from? Then find their investors via Crunchbase: are these investors folks who I trust to make the right bet based on their previous investments? At the early stages, it’s all about the people. There are a myriad of challenges that come up every day, and it’s crucial to join the group you believe can beat the odds.

Secondly, find the place where you feel you can come with genuine energy and passion to interviews. When a company is high-growth, this often leads to employees wearing many hats over time as the organization evolves. You may not be able to show evidence you’ve worn all those hats, but you can show that you have the mindset to figure it out.

And stepping back, when your first inclination is ‘doomsaying’ new technology, try to balance that out and think of how it could be helpful. Big things are created by optimists.