Despite being the youngest CEO our fund had invested in at the time, Guy Leibovitz is an old school kind of guy. He is what most people would imagine a young successful Israeli entrepreneur to be, back in the 1990s. This is to his advantage, as the 90s birthed some of Israel’s greatest companies. These companies were and are characterized by a few commonalities, being led by a charismatic, yet dominant founder with a background in technology and innovation; having a lean mentality on expenses and raising capital; and a single-minded focus on revenue and productization. In addition, they each called on established relationships to create strong and cohesive engineering teams.
Guy, an alumnus of the IDF’s cyber intelligence and AI teams, combined his expertise in AI and NLP with many years of experience in cyber and information security to start his own company, Cognigo. It uses AI to develop security software that identifies, manages, and adds policies to help companies remain compliant with GDPR regulations regardless of the type of data or where it resides. He rented a small, affordable office in southern Tel-Aviv and hit the ground running. As a single founder, he initially did everything, from cleaning to dishes to writing code and presenting to customers. Few founders decide to go at it alone, as Guy did. In today’s market, far from that of the 90s, even fewer focus on spending as little money as possible and earning as much as possible, as opposed to simply raising as much as possible. Despite the pressures of being a single founder, Guy was able to successfully raise capital, initially from State Of Mind Ventures and subsequently from additional venture funds. He assembled a team of gifted friends, established an unbeatable management team and finished developing his superior product. He even moved into a bigger office space (though still low-budget and in southern Tel-Aviv). Most of all, he began selling and selling.
Two years after investors told Guy his product was too early, too late, too broad, too narrow or just too weird, Cognigo had more business coming its way than it could handle. Guy was then faced with a choice: to sell or not to sell. It was not an easy decision, but eventually he and his team decided it would benefit the company to join forces with a big player. And so, less than three years from inception, Cognigo was acquired by NetApp to be its AI driven data compliance platform.
We at SOMV worked closely with Guy and his team through the ups and downs, victories and defeats, until the happy exit. What remains are the lifetime relationships we built and incredible moments to remember and be inspired by.