My most recent podcast interview featured Yuval Brisker, the co-founder, CEO and President of a new financial technology company, Alviere, that has created THE HIVE, a state-of-the-art platform that streamlines and automates the delivery of any financial products. Before launching Alviere and THE HIVE, Yuval served as co-founder and CEO of TOA Technologies in Cleveland, Ohio, which was started in 2003 and later sold to Oracle in 2014. This was a pioneer endeavor, being an early SaaS company in field service management and a massive success for the region.
Hi Yuval, thanks for joining me for a chat today. Let’s start by exploring your journey leading up to TOA and now Alviere.
“I started my career as an architect … I was in the sort of the first generation of architects that were using CAD,” Yuval shared. He then explained how he quickly understood that he was more interested in the technology aspect of the field than in the architecture itself as a business.
“Although I love architecture, I will say about architecture, that [it’s] a great art, but a terrible profession. So through that, through my sort of my involvement in technology in architecture, I realized that the great cathedrals of our time were being built in technology, not in bricks and mortar. And so, I decided that’s where I want to go,” Yuval said. He then decided to turn his attentions away from the architecture world to focus them on the technological world instead.
A swift transition into the technology niche of building software soon followed. “It was [around] mid to late ’90s, [when] the internet .coms were beginning to sort of swirl,” Yuval said. He could see that it was going to be a big deal. “[There were] a lot of people who were getting [into] it already at that time … And I really felt like I wanted to be in the midst of the main thrust of business and economy and culture in life as I saw it. So I made the switch.”
Yuval’s first job in the world of software was working for an Israeli friend (Yuval was born in Israel himself) who had built a billing and customer care software for small telcos. According to Yuval, he was the pro in technology and was by no means a software programmer. For this reason, Yuval knew he needed to recruit more help. “I never studied software programming, and I never wrote a line of code to today. So, I really needed somebody to work with me to be my sales engineer while I was selling the vision and the ideas and doing the business sales and beginning to build the company around me,” he explained.
So Yuval hired someone who, to most people, would seem to be an unlikely addition: Irad Carmi, who was actually a classical musician. Yuval would later chuckle at the irony of how he and Carmi transitioned together from the more classical arts world to technology’s practical arts world. The pair soon became inseparable—a dynamic duo.
In fact, Carmi is who Yuval partnered with to start TOA. When the company they were both working for crashed after the dot com bubble , the two decided to start a business together. But it wasn’t an easy road. “We were bootstrapping, so basically funding it ourselves. And we both said, ‘Well, we’re not going to do that in New York. Let’s do it somewhere affordable.”
This is where Yuval’s story brought him (and his company) to their present-day digs in Cleveland. Carmi was already based in the city, having married a girl from Cleveland and relocating there to be near her family, so it just made sense for the business partners to plant their roots in the much more affordable Ohio locale.
This was only the beginning of Yuval’s journey, and what followed was more success and lessons learned than he could have possibly imagined. To hear the rest of his story unfold, as well as to discover more about his fascinating path, including how his Master’s degree in Cinema Studies from NYU has enriched his role as an entrepreneur, and much more, you can listen to the full podcast here.