Six months since Oct. 7, YL Ventures partner: Not out of the woods


Each spring, Jewish families worldwide sit down for their Passover Seders. A highlight of the event is reading the Four Questions. Against the backdrop of recent challenges, including the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas massacre and economic uncertainties marked by rising inflation and interest rates, there are signs of optimism in the Israeli high-tech sector. We reached out to leaders in this industry, asking them our own four questions, allowing them to reflect on their challenges, decisions, successes and dreams. Here are the responses from Sharon Seemann, a partner at YL Ventures. 


In the aftermath of October 7 and the Gaza War, what recent challenges have you faced in your industry, and how did you overcome them?

As a partner at an Israeli-American VC firm, beyond my connection as an Israeli, the war’s impact on our industry and portfolio companies was significant.

This was mainly due to the remarkable rallying of many of our founders and their teams, who volunteered for reserve duty and civilian aid efforts, leaving young cybersecurity startups in their most critical stages of development.

That being said, what I witnessed during the first few months of the war was unimaginable resilience, agility and determination by these entrepreneurs to double down on bridging any production, human resources or technical gaps they may have had to prioritize customer needs and expectations.

As the firm’s marketing lead and partner, after October 7, I focused on accelerating the value-added assistance and support provided by my team to our portfolio companies. My team and I leveraged our resources, workforce and networks to guide our founders through this new reality and ensure their continued operations on a global scale, including strategizing with founders and marketing teams on future marketing plans and implementation, helping them drive customer engagement and adoption and a host of PR efforts. We may not be out of the woods yet. Still, the Israeli cybersecurity industry is the nation’s most globally recognized and successful export, considered by many to be the “Ivy League” of the global cybersecurity ecosystem, and its ability to weather such a catastrophic national crisis – while ensuring business continuity, standing together and supporting the Israeli economy and society at the same time – is truly exceptional. 


Looking back, what decision do you feel was the best for your career or business, and why?

Before entering the VC and startup ecosystem, I began my professional career as a commercial litigation lawyer. During my military service in the IDF’s Unit 8200, I was somewhat exposed to the world of tech and startup innovation, with many of my friends joining the Israeli high-tech sector after their army service. At university, I held a student position performing research and analysis related to the Israeli technology and venture capital industry. I was always drawn to this ecosystem, and when the opportunity to dive in and join a globally renowned VC firm as its first marketing lead presented itself, I jumped at the chance.

This transition was both a mental challenge and an exciting leap of faith; the best decision I made in my career. Joining YL Ventures as the firm’s first marketing lead and one of the first marketing leads in the Israeli VC community allowed me to build the firm’s marketing strategy from the ground up, paving the way for other Israeli firms. As the firm grew and developed, so did my position and responsibilities, leading to managing a large marketing team and my appointment as a partner.


Additionally, VC marketing has become a leading strategic asset in our value-added service for our portfolio companies. 


What achievement or success are you most proud of, and what lessons did you learn?

One of my professional achievements is building the foundations for YL Ventures’ marketing value-added service for our portfolio companies. This was a developing field in the VC ecosystem, which was accustomed to focusing on the more business-related aspects of funding and company-building. As I grew my team and responsibilities and began to provide substantial value to our portfolio founders and their teams, the industry realized the substantial impact marketing assistance and guidance has, especially for early-stage startups, and emulated our marketing model. Watching our marketing, branding, messaging, and positioning efforts attract significant customer attention to our startups and help them scale never gets old.  

Artificial Intelligence & Cybersecurity (credit: Wikimedia Commons)


What are your aspirations or goals for yourself or your organization in the coming year as you look ahead?

Despite unstable market conditions and a volatile geopolitical landscape, my faith in our industry’s resilience has just strengthened. I hope to continue driving our firm’s brand positioning and successful investment track record to new heights in the global market while supporting the growth of the most talented, groundbreaking cybersecurity founding teams worldwide.

I look forward to our continued innovation in the global industry. In the next few years, I anticipate the return of more serial cybersecurity entrepreneurs to the industry, with out-of-the-box innovation and disruptive security solutions to build the next generation of cybersecurity giants based on a wellspring of experience and talent. I can’t wait to support these seasoned founders in their early marketing endeavors, helping them scale with strong marketing foundations all the way to growth. 

Sharon Seemann is a partner at YL Ventures.