Episode 80

Best of Both Worlds with Eli Portnoy

Today we are talking to Eli Portnoy, the co-founder, SVP, and GM of Sense360. With an entrepreneurial spirit that started in high school, Eli always knew he wanted to be a part of the startup world. He’s had two successful exits, both of which he says were great experiences. He’s here to talk about how and why he exited his companies. He’ll touch on the process of transitioning his 11-person company to a large, publicly traded company.

Knowledge as Payment
Eli’s first business attempt came in high school, when he and a couple friends realized there were no concessions available at their school. The group brought their idea for a school store to the administration and were given the green light. Reaching out to suppliers, they were able to put together a store in just a couple of weeks. Eli says the store did phenomenally well, and while all the proceeds went to the school, he walked away with a lot of knowledge.

The Entrepreneurial Itch Strikes Again
Down the road, Eli found himself working as a product manager at Amazon. Working with the Digital Video team, Eli’s job was to define the experiences across connected devices. Working closely with all departments, Eli learned how to influence people, which would be a great skill to have. While he enjoyed the experience, he was ready to start his own company. Researching different industries that he thought were interesting, Eli began the search for a co-founder. Once he found a worthy partner, Eli left Amazon and started Thinknear, a location-based mobile ad network.

Knowing What You Know Now, What Would You Tell Yourself Ten Years Ago?
Eli says, looking back, he wishes he would’ve taken bigger swings and bigger risks. He’s always operated from a mentality of trying to minimize the risks rather than leaning into them. Knowing now how the markets evolved, he would’ve gone deeper. All in all, he would tell himself to stop focusing on what could go wrong, and start focusing on what could go right.

Knowing What You Know Now, What Would You Tell Yourself Ten Years Ago?
Eli says, looking back, he wishes he would’ve taken bigger swings and bigger risks. He’s always operated from a mentality of trying to minimize the risks rather than leaning into them. Knowing now how the markets evolved, he would’ve gone deeper. All in all, he would tell himself to stop focusing on what could go wrong, and start focusing on what could go right.

To Connect With Eli
Eli can be found on LinkedIn or reached through their website, www.sense360.com.

YOUR HOST

Steve McGarry

An entrepreneur, content creator, and investor based in sunny Tampa, Florida. In 2015, while living in San Francisco, Steve sold his first fintech startup LendLayer to Max Levchin’s (founder of PayPal) consumer finance company Affirm.