Idan Cohen on Building a Company Where Employees Love to Work

In Chapter 5 of 13 in his 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, technology entrepreneur Idan Cohen answers "How Has Your Entrepreneurial Experience Helped You Grow as a Person?" Cohen finds starting and growing his company Boxee has that him about people and what sacrifices he is willing to make for others. In the six years growing the company before it sold to Samsung in 2013, Cohen finds reward knowing he helped create a place to work and a company culture that made a lasting positive impact on his employees.

Idan Cohen is a technology entrepreneur and product management leader at Samsung Electronics. He co-founded Boxee, which was acquired by Samsung in early 2013. 


Erik Michielsen: How has your entrepreneurial experience helped you grow as a person?

Idan Cohen: I think you learn more about people. You learn more about your priorities. You learn more about how much you are willing to sacrifice for what you set out to do. You learn about strengths and abilities that you didn't think you had. I think that especially looking back now after the acquisition and looking back at six years of building Boxee, the most significant thing that we did was create an amazing family with an amazing culture. It’s just--People got connected in many different ways, and, you know, the culture is a little quirky and a little weird, obviously, like maybe in any place, but the connection between the people was fantastic.

And I've seen companies that spend more time after work going out drinking together, and they spend more time doing activities or-- so it seems like they are connected, but I think that we managed to foster some kind of weird, very straightforward Israeli culture mixed in with young, local, American, New York experience and people. And it worked really well. I was extremely touched when everything went down, and one of the guys from Israel that decided-- so the team is moving here, and he decided not to move. And he wrote an e-mail back, and he said, you know, "I really hope that one day, I'll be able to say, no, Boxee was not the best place I ever worked in."

And I heard that from several other people in many different ways, and it was very hard for people to do this because they understood that something might change in the process. And they got emotional, and they felt really-- that it's-- you know, this time was significant in their life, and I think for me, suddenly that struck me, how-- like, being able to affect people's life in that way. You know, way more than eventually what we built, that-- you know, products come and go, services come and go. But I hope that the experiences people had together are the one thing that actually stays, not what they built. And I think that that, for me, was extremely touching.