Inside the mind of a reality show judge
Mega mogul tells aspiring entrepreneurs to 'Quit Your Day Job' on new TV show.
Ido Leffler has become wildly successful with his skin care company Yes To Inc., his school supply company Yoobi, and Cheeky, which makes paper plates. Now the Israeli entrepreneur is helping young would-be moguls launch their businesses as an investor on the new show “Quit Your Day Job,” which premieres March 30 on the Oxygen network. Leffler and fellow venture capitalists Randi Zuckerberg, Lauren Maillian and Sarah Prevette evaluate candidates’ products or services, and put them to the test in challenges before deciding whether or not to back them.
Successful pitchers are “passionate about their idea and willing to take that leap of faith of believing in themselves and have products or services that are unique and different and could be the next big thing,” Leffler told From The Grapevine about his show, which is drawing comparisons to ABC's "Shark Tank."
“The decision has to be unanimous, and that is not easy when you get four personalities such as ourselves in the room especially when we disagree,” he said. “I’ve known Randi, Lauren and Sarah for quite some time so we knew how to push each other’s buttons, and that made for really good teamwork and really great TV.”
Leffler, who was born in Israel and moved to Australia as a boy, returned to his birthplace at 24 and established Yes To Inc. 10 years ago. “I met my wife there. We go back nearly every year,” he told us. He believed he couldn’t have done as well with the fruits and veggies-based skin care line anywhere else.
“Israel is the most entrepreneurial plot of land on Earth," he said. "Everybody in Israel wants to be and believes they can be an entrepreneur. It’s [a mindset of] anything can be done, everything is a yes – it’s just a matter of how you get there. The Israeli spirit of spontaneity and getting stuff done is something I carry with me every single day.”
Something else that made a big impression on him: his parents’ roller coaster ride in the business world. “We emigrated from Israel to Australia when I was 4 years old, when my parents were in their late 20s. They made tremendous success of themselves as entrepreneurs in Australia only to lose it all. To watch my family go through the ups and downs of entrepreneurship was definitely a learning curve that I will never forget, and to watch them build it up after the big loss was even more exciting and more interesting to learn,” Leffler said. “You’re going to make mistakes every single day. It’s how you respond to them that is going to differentiate you from being a success and being a failure.”
He has successfully built Yes To – which started with carrots and now includes cucumber, tomato, coconut, grapefruit and blueberry products – into a worldwide brand and a leading natural beauty line in the U.S. He’s having similar success with Yoobi and Cheeky, both launched in 2014. He currently has more than 400 products in the marketplace. He’s clearly come a long way from his first business venture, The Roving Bakery, a home delivery service for breads and bagels, to running and investing in major companies, and advising and sitting on the boards of others including Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, Joyus and Spark New Zealand.
Leffler is passionate about everything from running companies with partners he considers his best friends to doing his day job, media interviews and flying to New Zealand for one day to attend a Spark board meeting. “I genuinely love what I do,” he told us.
It’s important to him that all of his ventures have a "giving back" element that makes an impact to help people’s lives. "In the first 18 months of Yoobi we’ve been able to supply free school supplies to over 1.4 million kids in the U.S.,” said Leffler, who wants to set an example for his three daughters, ages 7, 4 and 17 months. “I want them to think of their dad as someone who helps kids or feeds people, not just a guy that makes widgets."
Fatherhood also fuels his interest in education-oriented business. “I want to show my daughters and kids around the world that they, too, can become entrepreneurs and leaders at a young age,” Leffler said.
He hopes the “Quit Your Day Job” show will be similarly inspirational. “There’s nothing better than running or owning your own business, and we want to show that everybody can do this, if you have the right idea. If viewers think they can do what we put people through in these episodes, they should definitely consider taking the plunge for themselves.”
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