״As soon as I decided to start a company that would differentiate itself by being innovative and breakthrough, it only felt natural to base it in a startup environment”, says Yoni Itzhak, CEO and Founder of Operativa – a boutique firm, all encompassing strategic consulting based in Mindspace Tel Aviv. ״I realized that we couldn’t be based in a normal office building״.
Itzhak founded Operativa in early 2016. His vision was to change the ways of strategic consulting and take it up a notch. ״Most firms today offer communicative, financial, economical, or regulatory-specific strategy, however we offer an all-inclusive, 360° perspective, that’s a pure management consulting service״, says Itzhak. His team focuses on building a long-term strategy plan that draws on the existent business plan of a hiring client, and ensures the implementation of the conclusive strategy. No external factor is left behind in the analysis process, Itzhak asserts. ״Oftentimes, a final strategic plan is produced that does not take into consideration the political environment, or tie-in a pivot point that a startup made mid-project – making it less relevant״, he explains. ״Operativa is all-inclusive״, and no such scenarios are left behind.
Operativa’s name draws inspiration from the military world – where operativa represent the glue that holds a strategy and the tactical moves together and ensure that it sees fruition. Itzhak is no stranger to the ways of the military – as a major rank, he spent almost twenty years in the army, most of them as a commander in the reserve service. He has a soft spot for the public sector and feels an urge to do good – something that Operativa pursues when working with governmental bodies.
״When I started the company, I debated if I should structure it like existing firms, or create something completely new״, Itzhak says. ״Our approach was different – we adapted our business model to that of a startup or a young business, making Operativa a startup in itself״. The team’s HQ is very minimal, Itzhak explains. A functioning CEO and CFO lead a team of twelve ״senior experts״ that manage clients; Legal and IT matters are outsourced. ״We service governmental bodies, startups and enterprises, mostly in finance and infrastructure״, he says. ״Our business model is one where you pay-per-product״ – making it all the more flexible to work with dynamic organizations that are fast-evolving.
Prior to starting up his venture, Itzhak was dabbling and zigzagging in between the public and private sectors. ״I was always in the mix״, he says, ״in the mid-point between public and private״. He spent time as a VP for Strategic Consulting at an advertising and media group, managing crisis in Israel and abroad, and dealing with clients like the Israel Land Authority, Israel electric company, Veolia and Ahava. He spent time in the government working as a senior advisor, spokesperson of a ministry and as a parliamentary assistant for an MK. But working for others didn’t quite do it for him. ״In our days, if you’re entrepreneurial minded – if you’ve experienced starting something yourself, whether it be in the army or in the corporate world – it becomes hard to backtrack to being a salaried employee״. An entrepreneur, he says, has a thirst for knowledge and a strong desire to create that is often curbed when working for an existing enterprise.
Be part of changing the future
But branching out has its downsides, or uncertainties, so to speak. Starting up a venture is ״a rollercoaster״, Itzhak says. ״And there is no way to anticipate the challenges that you will face before boarding the rollercoaster״.
The upside for Operativa though, lies in its ability to identify with its often-startup clients. ״The fact that I myself am incorporated helps me understand the needs and challenges of my clients – I understand how every dollar for them is significant and requires that ROI״. Itzhak and his team ensure that every dollar spent on Operativa’s services will yield back the same resource invested. Every strategy and every derived work plan must deal with an outcome that will profit the hiring organization.
The one time Operativa deviates from it’s profit-producing drive, is when dealing with the government sector. There, emphasis is placed on expanding public initiatives that do good for society by taking on long-standing challenges. ״We have the opportunity to be part of changing the future of people here״, Itzhak says. And while not much profit lies in working with the government, such work is accompanied by an unmatched sense of contentment. ״It’s a feeling that you did something good and contributed to improved relations between a government and its people״, he says.
And that’s the power of Operativa – it provides Itzhak with the best of both worlds. ״The advantage to what I do now, is that I get to work with both the public and private sector״, he says. ״It gives me the power to impact every sort of organization״.
SWOT and PEST
Operativa uses two models of analysis when taking on projects: SWOT, which hones in on the inner workings of its organization (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) and PEST, which provides a thorough analysis of an organization’s external environment (taking into consideration Political, Economical, Social, and Technological factors). ״Understanding the external environment strengthens our understanding of the organization itself״, Itzhak says. An understanding of the macro is just as significant and important as the micro.
Every quarter, the company presents a plan of how far it progressed relative to targets set. ״We want to quantify our process, or at least give a standing״, the CEO says.
Environment of collaboration
Operativa has been based in Mindspace for just about a year. Coworking, Itzhak says, felt right. ״The second I walked into the space, I knew it was right״, he says. He was drawn to the environment of collaboration and innovation, and saw it as an opportunity to get a firsthand look and understanding of the startup world. And he’s been no stranger to taking advantage of the many workshops and events offered to community members. The workshops, he says, are enriching ״experiences that provide an alternate and interesting point of view״.
Collaboration and joint thinking are fueling the global movement of coworking, Itzhak says. And in the end, ״you can see that something is happening here on a global level״.