What it is Like Being the CEO of a Hypergrowth Unicorn, Harnessing Your Superpowers, and Maintaining the Right Company Culture

Eynat Guez,
Co-founder & CEO of Papaya Global

How does one maintain mega-success after signing a 100-million USD investment agreement, a mere 2-weeks after giving birth?

When the last funding round was announced, Eynat was so overwhelmed by the flood of messages that she turned off her phone and went to the sea - she just wanted quiet. Eynat says that despite the remarkable success, she takes things in proportion. Don't be mistaken - she knows it's a fantastic achievement. However, she remains modest and emphasizes how much it was and is a group effort; she has surrounded herself with super talents. I asked her how she ran a company of 250 employees, worth more than 1-billion USD, with 3 small children at home, including a newborn baby. Eynat is task-oriented and focused - she organized excellent staff at work and help at home, maintaining boundaries and carefully choosing what is good for her and what is worth investing her time in, often working 17-18 hours a day. Eynat, the individual, was debating whether to sign the investment document - it was a busy, hormonal period, a new family experience to be had. On the other hand, Eynat, as the CEO, did not have the privilege to refuse. It was bigger than her. Eynat knew that she could handle it. After all, she's been "on top of things" since she was little.

Here are some of the strengths and weaknesses Eynat brings to the table - (think about what's suitable for you and adopt that). Disclaimer: not sure this is a recipe to create a unicorn, but it is what worked for Eynat;

(1) The practical Eynat:

  • Her decision-making process is quick; she always thinks about the worst-case scenario, and then she knows how to proceed.
  • She prioritizes all the time - one must give up things that are not incredibly important.
  • Always choose what is suitable for you.
  • Embrace the Pareto Principle - invest where you want to contribute and influence; approach things in a sincere way.

(2) Mental resilience - it isn't easy to throw her off-balance:

  • Eynat talks openly about her mother's inability to care for herself or her children since Eynat was 4 years old. Her father chose to continue caring for Eynat’s mother at home. Eynat used to feel like her home life made her 'inferior.' She decided enough was enough at 20 years of age and wanted to live at peace with her past; that life experience gave her the sense of proportions and balance within life. Her father now works at Papaya Global, and it's a place that allows both of them as adults to find their togetherness again.

(3) Get to know yourself and the kind of team you need.

  • Eynat knows that she's not always easy to work with; she is opinionated, thinks fast, and acts quickly. She believes this is why her partnership with Ofer Herman & Ruben Drong works so well - the 3 of them came to Papaya as experienced professionals, having met through close friends who made the matchmaking based on close familiarity with each other. The divisions of the roles are apparent; Eynat is more outward-facing and loves business relationships, whereas Ofer and Ruben are task-oriented and get things done.

How do you build a strong team that lasts?

  • Eynat tries to recruit people well-suited for the company: They talk about the problems and challenges they face in the recruitment process, not just how fantastic everything is - honesty brings in the right people.
  • Papaya brings detailed-oriented people. This is a significant value that embodies the way the company works.
  • They move quickly - people are allowed to make mistakes, allowed to launch when only 80% ready, but must be willing and able to make things happen and get things done.
  • Be Direct. Organizational politics and ego are a no-go. It is not always easy to give and get feedback, but engage in discussions and don’t hold grudges.

Regarding speaking directly - Eynat reflected on how complicated it was to raise money when she was in the late stages of pregnancy. Although no one said it directly, her pregnancy was a massive elephant in the room. Eynat felt she was endangering the future of the company and its employees because of her personal choices and, to an extent, understood the investors even though it was outrageous and uncomfortable. She knows today that she too should have put things on the table more clearly and helped investors see how she will lead the company with a leveled hand even after the birth, just as she does in practice.

She learned over the years to calm the social guilt of 'what she should be' and believes that children should be allowed to cope and experience frustration. She also mentions that when it comes to entrepreneurship, it is never a success story. You have to invest your soul; there are no shortcuts. If this is not the right time, or you're not in the right mindset, do not do it half-heartedly - you must be all in.

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