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Jovie – Make a Scene
A renowned TV screenwriter and producer leaves a successful career behind to follow his true passion and start his own company. Sounds like a great idea for a TV series? You bet! But in our story, however, reality exceeds imagination.If you have watched Israeli television anywhere in the past 10 years, the name Assaf Harel most probably rings a big bell. One of most acclaimed screenwriters, directors and actors in Israeli television, Harel is most known for his series “Mesudarim” (= Loaded, translation from Hebrew), which tells the story of four partners who sell their tech startup for a “modest” 217 million USD.
Mesudarim is a fictional series, yet in retrospect – it is hard to miss the link between the story of its main characters (one of whom was played by Harel himself), and Harel’s next move in his off-the-screen real life:
In February 2014 Harel, 42, made the almost unbelievable step and left (at least temporarily) the world of entertainment to start Jovie – a new mobile app which allows users to create short, viral videos of themselves interacting with movie stars; taking part in favorite TV shows; and commenting on current events.
“It was at a point in my life where I had already achieved many of my personal aspirations, and I asked myself – what’s next? it is always a great challenge to create another blockbuster, but I also realized that another blockbuster would only get me back to the same point where I already was. And I needed a change”.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about Harel is the openness in which he discusses the excitements, but also the hardships at his new startup. “Starting a company has been one of the most rejuvenating experiences in my life” he tells in a special interview for Startup Camel. “In an instant, I felt like a 20 year old all over again. Yes, I could probably become an executive at a TV station, but at the age of 40, not many things in life give you the same excitement as spending a sleepless night with your team, trying to solve a business problem while eating hummus from a can”.
Despite the excitement, not everything in the startup journey has been glamorous for Harel – a first time entrepreneur: “From being a famous figure in the local TV scene, I suddenly found myself chasing after investors, who had no desire to meet me and hardly even cared about my product. Moreover, most of our business is overseas, where I do not even have the privilege of being a familiar figure. I literally had to restart building myself from scratch. However, every milestone, every round of funding we close or another product feature we air – are a great boost of energy, and that’s what make this whole journey worthwhile”.
Follow Your Passion
So what’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? We ask Harel at the end of our interview. “Follow your passion”, he replies. “Do something that burns inside you. Yes, you will work weekends and sleepless nights, and you will curse the moment you decided to drop your old job to start a company. But faith leads to passion, and passion leads to creation. And that, my friends, is what makes a difference in the world”. Amen.