Shira Kaplan AB '08; CEO & Founder, Cyverse

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? 

Israelis are all about risk-taking. They live in a risky neighborhood, which makes them prone to taking risks also in the business world. Ex-military and intelligence veterans like myself often start their own companies, and focus on cyber-security, which is a mega-growth industry. 

Shira Kaplan

Shira Kaplan

What three pieces of advice/lessons learned would you give about the entrepreneurial journey?

Make sure you have an amazing business partner, and that he/ she complements you. If you’re young, consider working with an older, experienced entrepreneur who has already exited a few companies. If you’re a man, consider working with a woman. The diversity of mindsets and experiences is incredibly important to the success of your business. 

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? 

I love the fact that I eat my own cooking. If I cook well, I’ll eat well and be fat. And if I fail – I’ll starve... So failure isn’t an option. 

Do you believe there is some sort of pattern/formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I find that immigrants - or people who feel like immigrants – often do well as entrepreneurs in a foreign countries. They love to show everyone around them that their cultural background is an asset – and they build businesses around their home culture and values, which turns out to be innovative in the local context. 

How has your Harvard education benefited you personally, professionally as an entrepreneur?

Harvard opens doors – everywhere. As a Harvard alum, there’s not a single person who will ignore your email, or refuse to speak to you on the phone. This has been my experience so far.