“With three little kids, we felt overwhelmed with daily life management,” says Liat Mordechay Hertanu.
So in early 2013, she and her husband, Gilad, took on another task. They cofounded 24me and developed a smart personal assistant app hailed by CNN, USA Today, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Mashable and other media outlets. It was awarded “Best of the App Store” by Apple in 2014.
Downloaded by millions of people for iOS and Android phones and the Apple Watch, 24me features a fully integrated calendar, to-do list and notes, not only updating you on what you need to do but allowing you to pay bills, check in with social networks and even purchase items through the app.
And because Israelis aren’t the only busy people, 24me is available in English, Arabic, Armenian, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Last October 10, Hertanu was one of four accomplished Israeli businesswomen honored by the America-Israel Friendship League at the 10th annual Israel Day at the New York Stock Exchange.
“The biggest challenge in time management is capturing everything that happens since we’re overwhelmed with data,” Hertanu tells ISRAEL21c from 24me’s offices in Or Yehuda, where she handles marketing and business development.
“With so much information coming from different resources of data, managing day-to-day life becomes more challenging and it’s hard to set priorities when so much is happening. We felt you need a central dashboard for your life.”
Hertanu emphasizes that 24me isn’t just a mommy app. “It’s really interesting to see we have 50-50 male and female users, from all age groups, though the main age group is 21 to 34,” she says.
Hooked on doing business
Hertanu is a graduate of the computer science school at IDC Herzliya and was among the first cohort of IDC’s Zell Entrepreneurship Program.
She began working at startups during college and went on to positions with several successful technology firms and Fortune 500 companies in North America.
“We traveled to the US when I was pregnant with our first child, Daniel. I was working with a startup and my husband joined a fulltime MBA program at Washington University in St. Louis,” says Hertanu. She enrolled in an executive international MBA program at St. Louis University.
Entrepreneurship seems to be a genetic thing for Hertanu, who was born in 1978 and raised in Yavne by a teacher (mom) and computer engineer (dad). She and her three sisters were encouraged to excel in science and technology.
“My uncles were involved in making businesses, and that set an example for me from an early age. I remember as a child doing entrepreneurial stuff and trying to make small businesses,” she says.
“And I was exposed to technology at an early age through my father. I saw the evolution of personal computing from dot-matrix printers to notebooks.” Today, Hertanu works on three different computers daily and says her iPhone is her best buddy.
She served as an intelligence officer in the Israel Air Force for several years. Although Gilad Hertanu was an Air Force pilot, they did not meet until both had completed their military service.
They founded 24me after they had their third child within four years, and were heading back to Israel with graduate degrees in hand.
”That’s when we felt ‘time poverty’ firsthand,” she relates. “We know the real problems parents like us are facing, and that’s what we are trying to solve. 24me is a product for people who want to manage their time instead of being managed by time.”
As for the time spent building the company, she explains with a laugh: “If you’re an entrepreneur type, you have issues with addiction to excitement.”
The company has five employees and is opening an office in the Bay Area of California. Its development team will remain in Or Yehuda.
Hertanu says that establishing 24me in Israel afforded access to “the amazing community of startups and the innovation you have here. People are filled with ideas and always creating. Since it’s not easy to live here, it generates a lot of entrepreneurial thinking and it’s very good for your brain to be in such a place, alive with ideas.”
Speaking of creative ideas, Hertanu says that in the future, 24me will be souped up with even more features.
“Helping people manage their schedule is not enough. In order to be one of the leading solutions in the market we have to help people complete their physical errands as well, and we’re working on that aspect. Let’s say you need to get the oil changed in your car; we’ll find someone to do that for you so you can use your time for other meaningful activities.”
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