Mar 29, 2023 at 9: 22 am

Partner Spotlight: How Nir Melamud is Supercharging the Vietnamese Scale Up Ecosystem Together with Thinkzone

We recently sat down with our Strategy Tools Partner and FreshStart's Founder, Nir Melamud, on how he is leveraging his unique startup experience and Strategy Tools toolkit to create impact within the Vietnamese venture capital ecosystem, together with ThinkZone.

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Strategy Tools:

It’s been a while since our last check-in – could you share a bit about your latest activities?

Nir Melamud:

At FreshStart, we work with startups and investments, with a focus on early-mid-stage startups as part of my day-to-day work, mostly on their investor readiness, GTM methods & strategy. 

In addition, I’ve been engaged with some business schools in Israel (Tel Aviv University, Raichman University, and others) to embed parts of our Investor Readiness programs we run in their curriculum. This is one of those long-term projects I hope will get realized very soon.

Strategy Tools:

You have been one of Strategy Tools’ most active members in terms of learning new skills (Scale Up Coach, simulations, etc), as well as jumping on new projects in collaboration with us – could you share how your experience on the Strategy Tools Master Trainer program in Sep 2023 has helped shaped your role in Strategy Tools, as well as your expertise?

Nir Melamud:

The Master Trainer program is a unique experience. It’s not for beginners and ideally, you should have a decent (some may say thorough) understanding of a variety of strategic domains, such as Corporate & Innovation Strategy, Startups & Venture Capital financing, Clusters & Innovation Ecosystems, and others. 

During the 2.5 years prior to STMT, I dived into the Strategy Tools methodologies, toolkits, and canvases, uplifting my strategic skill set significantly. It was a combination of enrolling in the different Strategy Tools academic courses as well as collaborating through real client projects. 

The STMT helped connect the dots. Everything in Strategy Tools is linked together. Once you understand how startups and venture capital play a significant role in corporates’ innovation strategy, or how clusters attract key stakeholders, such as startups, VCs & corporates – your ability to deliver a much broader solution to the different parties – increases significantly. 

As Strategy Tools grows, broader projects are coming to life, and I’m happy to enhance my collaboration with Strategy Tools as a partner.

Strategy Tools:

You recently travelled on behalf of ST to Vietnam for a week to work with ThinkZone, VN’s most active VC. I’d like to go more in-depth about your experience there:

How was the experience facilitating Scale Up! for a VC team across the globe?

Nir Melamud:

We have been delivering Scale-Up! Masterclasses across the globe for over 3 years now, mostly due to our ability to deliver it 100% digital. So the global aspect is not new. 

What we see more and more lately are global in-person engagements, and once everything is planned and executed accordingly – the Scale-Up! experience just works.

In short, the masterclass consists of the Scale-Up! Simulation run, with deep dives into beginners, intermediate, and advanced fundraising topics and tools, in a very high-paced, steep learning curve engagement. 

All participants were active throughout the entire masterclass and shared their challenges, ideas, questions, and insights. 

Me, as a facilitator, I always aim for one thing: to significantly change and impact participants’ mindsets. In ThinkZone’s case, to acknowledge the participants with a global mindset, ‘think big’ mentality, and long-term value creation planning.

Strategy Tools:

How did the participants / client experience the masterclass?

Nir Melamud:

During the sessions, the founders had the chance to experience a full ‘Idea to Exit’ journey, deal with real-life early-stage & growth stage investors, practice their deal-making skills, and create value for their venture and their investors.

“Mind-changing”, “Stress”, and “Valuable”,… were some of the keywords from the startup founders’ feedback. I’ll add one more quote from the session itself: “ I think I played the wrong fundraising game until now…”.

Strategy Tools:

What were the key outcomes of your one week in Vietnam with ThinkZone?

Nir Melamud:

First, running a full in-person Scale-Up! Simulation is a great facilitation experience I advise partners to have in their toolboxes. It just brings on more opportunities.

I’ve got the chance to meet great key stakeholders in Vietnam, like SwissEP partners, AWS leaders, economic developers, and others. I’ve learned that the Vietnamese ecosystem is active, both in Hanoi & Ho Chi Minh City, and there’s an immense interest in uplifting the local competencies, to make Vietnam a global leader in various fields.

I truly believe that this engagement is the first of many to come, in Vietnam & Southeast Asia.

Finally, I’d like to thank ThinkZone & SwissEP (our supportive partners) for bringing this masterclass to Vietnam, thus promoting the Vietnamese ecosystem.

Strategy Tools:

What were your key takeaways as a Scale-Up! facilitator?

Nir Melamud:

  1. Planning the Scale-Up! Masterclass A to Z – is a must.
  2. Be flexible and adjust according to participants’ level & needs
  3. Scale-Up! Simulation is not about rolling dices. It’s about the content.
  4. Each Card/Content holds a real-life story. Take advantage of it to make impact.
  5. Always keep in mind the participants’ level of knowledge and help balance it.

Strategy Tools:

How do you think your experience with Strategy Tools Master Trainer, Scale Up Coach and Strategy Tools in general helped prepare you for a project like this?

Nir Melamud:

As in most academic courses or bootcamps, you attend, you are handed a handful of methodologies and tools to do your job better. The same goes with Strategy Tools. It’s up to you, as a partner, to decide how you take it further.

This project was all about ST’s products & toolkit. My previous engagements as a co-facilitator with Chris helped me understand the logic behind the workflow of Scale-Up!, and practice facilitation techniques. Without it – I couldn’t have run a full in-person simulation alone.

It requires time & effort, but it benefits you in the long-term.

Strategy Tools:

For other partners, with less experience than yourself, that are just getting started, how would you recommend them getting started on their partner journey?

Nir Melamud:

Collaboration with Strategy Tools can come in many shapes and forms. Some come to add more gunpowder to their weapons. Some come to learn facilitation approaches. Some come for business development, while some are embedding content into their academy curriculum.

Regardless of the reason, being active is a key ingredient. Once you’re active, things happen. I’ll give you an example: Chris and ST’s team create about 10-15 new tools a month. I’m usually one of those partners who get access to these tools very early on.

Why? Because I am happy to share feedback (regardless of good or bad), after experiencing it with my clients. So this is mutually beneficial for Strategy Tools and myself.

The same goes for sharing ideas in the partner group or having collaborations with other ST partners. It creates confidence between parties and brings on more opportunities.

Nir Melamud

Located at the heart of the Israeli entrepreneurial ecosystem scene, Nir has been working with some of the most disruptive B2B & B2C Israeli ventures for almost a decade now. His background in Marketing & GTM strategies, combined with mastering the fundraising process – creates unique valuable expertise for early-stage companies.

In his work with accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs, Nir provides ‘Investor Readiness’ solutions & services, workshops & simulations facilitation, side-by-side with strategic advisory.

Nir also acts as the managing partner of Tech Investor Club, where he assesses 100s of global startups a year and invests in a few, keeping long-lasting, value-creation-oriented relationships with them.

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