On Culture, Co-Builders And Founding A Startup With Your Own Brother

Yuval Kaminka,
Co-Founder & CEO at JoyTunes

Yuval is a dream chaser. 

For him, the meaning of fulfilling his dreams is the feeling of impact - to aggressively make sure his investment of time, energy, creativity and passion - are all directed towards something he believes in, and alongside that - working with people he deeply loves. 

Yuval divides the corporate world according to this question: if the company did not exist - how would the world feel? Would it be sadder, happier, or didn't even care at all?

He wants to create a company that if it did not exist - the world would be a little less of a good place.

They are 3 co-founders. Yuval and Roey are mathematicians. His brother, Yigal, is a gifted musician. The first phase of JoyTunes took 5 years. The vision was not clear, but they knew they wanted to be in every single home, to give meaning & value to people. and there was a feeling of anguish with what they needed to begin with, what product they should build zero to one. There was countless bad advice at this point, and Yuval learned to put question marks rather than exclamation marks, knowing who to listen to and especially making the decisions themselves.

Weigh & score your decisions

Yuval shares about the lack of confidence that accompanies you all the time as an entrepreneur - we are not sure of our own personal opinion. 

We have an inner ML that we need to train constantly, to train our own intuition. Yuval learned to "weight" the advice he receives - to know how much space and worth they hold in them, from the understanding of what the person that gave him the advice based it on, considering their own ML level. From intense listening to people who talked in absolutes - he sharpened his listening to a smart, informed, experience-based habit, so that each advice receives an "internal score" from him that helps him calibrate the advice and know how to use it.

As CEO, Yuval is implementing this in his company. People listen to him because “he’s the CEO”, and sometimes, he knows that his opinion can be an interference. And he explained, that they too, need to learn to “weigh” his opinion - and to refer to it only when it is uttered in areas under his in-depth knowledge and experience. 

Yuval shares about the importance of trust, in order to enable this work environment, where you can (sometimes) not listen to the CEO. Yuval shares that today there are moves within the company that he thought differently about, and that it’s fun for him to see those ideas succeed.

We spoke about the "good of the company" test - and that if everyone is calibrated for its own good - then they are not operating from a place of ego, but from a place of open atmosphere and greatness.


Another meaningful value in JoyTunes is the value of partnership - every person that joins the company, here and now, is a part of it’s building & shaping. As co-builder - I need to learn and evolve, I have a responsibility. It affects all of the perception of their policy as well, such as days off and expenses - they treat the company as if it was their own, in terms of the responsibility & accountability they show. 

The question arises - how do you maintain this identity when the company grows? And the answer - on two levels: One - allowing the feeling togetherness. The second - tactically, by providing information at all levels.

Yuval deeply trusts his partners (which includes all of the employees). All of the information needs to be approachable, and there's information that needs to pass through in a “push”, for example in board meetings. Twice a month the whole company gathers - in one time, all of the learning that was achieved is shown - the progress that was made, case studies, stories, all data-driven. In the second meeting - retrospection - they chose what to discuss on the company level, for example, the fears about the growth in the number of people in the company.

Your brother is your co-founders

Yuval founded the company with his brother Yigal, another brother was involved, the parents invested, Roei, the 3rd founder is a good friend and other good friends joined.

Precisely because of the deep familiarity with many of the people - there is a crazy trust that rests on people's great talents.

I asked Yuval how it works, being 10 years on a company’s journey together with his brother.

Yuval shares that he & Yigal were extra disciplined - when they needed to make a founders agreement - they talked in the most deep and comprehensive way - about everything. From the beginning, together with a lawyer and the third founder - everything was on the table. Yuval points out that the fact that he is in the company with his brother and friends - creates an even greater sense of responsibility in him, "The stretcher is even heavier on the shoulders".

The first phase of the company lasted for 5 years, and now, in the second phase - 5 more years. They constantly use checkpoints - to check what's going on strategic wise, where the company is headed and so on. 

They make clear boundaries - for example, at Fridays dinners there's no business talks. I asked Yuval if they were first brothers or founders. And he answered - first of all brothers, then friends. Then co-founders. 

And how do you fight with a brother? we go back to the “good of the company” test that we mentioned before - and remember again, that we both want what's best for the company, and then we remember that we are also brothers, then you can lower the flames a bit, and the burning sensation of the fight is a little less powerful.

Yuval feels that the power of JoyTunes lies in the DNA of its people, and the amazing products they produce. They have a long way to go, an exciting product, ambitious and complex to crack, and therefore, they need good people with them, and need to enjoy the way, because the journey is long and tough. In order to get to the level of growth they wish for - they need to be very analytical, analyzing, data driven, and alongside that - with a great vision to be the hub of simply guitar, simply piano, simply EVERYTHING…

Yuval likes to use mathematical models to solve organizational problems. And as he put it so beautifully - "probability is the mathematical side of faith". They're in a not-so-simple domain and received along the way, mainly in the beginning, very doubting feedback that told them it was not feasible, that it could not be done. Yuval came back unsettled and pensive from these conversations, and Roey, his co-founder, told him "so he said so" - and it made everything fall into place. This place, the strong inner faith of Yuval, goes with him all the way.

"In the first phase of the company - you have no right to exist until you have proven something. Then suddenly 10% of US music teachers work with you, and you realize you've come up with something. There is a difference between "being blind" and continuing to run with all force for something that is not necessarily successful, and saying that you are resilient once you’ve succeeded. It is measured in the test of the result, and this gap - between luck and ability to execute is not simple and sometimes also coincidental, and therefore - we must enjoy the road.”

 Yuval and the team are facing quite a bit of growth pains today - everyone has their own areas of concern. He is particularly concerned about how to maintain their principles even with their growth. We have made it clear that what's important is to preserve the values ​​- sometimes the principles change to suit the evolving reality.

For Yuval, the team is a huge driving force. This is a journey with high peaks and risks, the work is hard - but it has to be "good hard". Yuval shares about many founder-friends who are dealing with great loneliness, some taking anti-anxiety and antidepressants, with the help of professional therapists. And we thought together - that besides having to help those founders to take down stress & anxiety - how good it is to be in a situation where we talk to each other about these things, show our vulnerabilities, sharing and consulting. No longer hiding. Yuval shared that he experiences the whole festival of emotions - but loneliness is not one of them, because he has amazing co-builders beside him.

Yuval and his co-builders make dreams come true through learning to play music instruments that enables the creation of music. Music is one of the most significant & meaningful things that affect our mood. Music is life itself - in words, melodies, in the meaning of experiences and stories.

I shared with Yuval about my late grandfather Shemuel Bloch, whose music saved him in the Holocaust concentration camps in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, and allowed him nearly 90 years of a full and happy life - thanks to the harmonica, accordion, organ and hundreds of students he taught during his life time.

Go play, make some music :)

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