Amit Haller | Crain's San Francisco

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

Amit Haller

Background:  

Amit Haller is a serial entrepreneur who has headed several companies throughout his career and was an early pioneer of the Bluetooth technology. In 2016 he created Reali, a real-estate app that eliminates many commission fees and matches buyers and sellers by leveraging their mobile lifestyle.

The Mistake:
I made repeating mistakes in my companies Butterfly and IXI Mobile. From my perspective, I was a visionary of many new business concepts and trends in the industry. At IXI we were one of the first to create a smartphone for teenagers. In the early 2000s, we realized quickly that teenagers texted and chatted way more than they talked on the phone.

We created OGO, which was focused entirely on chatting. We had to go to the mobile operators, such as AT&T, to convince them that a disruption was around the corner and that people would start to chat more than talk. That was a very tough sell; it was hard to go to these huge companies that were successful at the time and tell them they had no clue what they were talking about and that actually the consumer was looking for something very different.

And that, at the end of the day, actually slowed us down versus if we had gone directly to consumers. At the time, venture capital and investors and the general consensus said that technology companies should focus on technology and consumer companies should focus on consumers, and [there should be] no relation with each other.

So when I went to my next experience and my next venture, it was very clear to me that technology was the true differentiation and that we needed to be focused on [that]. But we need to be able to package it and sell it directly to consumers and not to any kind of intermediary channel.

I understand now that life in general is not black and white; it’s mostly gray.

The Lesson:
What’s happened to me over the years is a progression of maturity in my leadership. In the early days of a company, it was a continuity battle. I was way more stubborn at those times; I’m much smoother today. I guess I understand now that life in general is not black and white; it’s mostly gray. And to be able to operate in a gray environment is important.

People who know me know that I have many mantras. One [of them] is the mantra for our entire organization: “It is what it is.” You wake up and an entire situation has just changed. Now you deal with it, and you should not spend a single moment getting upset about it or blaming others. Every morning we have a new opportunity. When you focus on solving the problem, you increase efficiency dramatically and relax your lifestyle.

Follow Reali on Twitter @RealiApp.
Photo courtesy of Amit Haller

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