OwlSpark | Rice University Startup Accelerator | PeopleWise: Nir Liebovich
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PeopleWise: Nir Liebovich

Starting his first business in high school and teaching himself to code from a young age, Nir Leibovich has always had an interest in entrepreneurship. From day one, Nir has been inspired to build phenomenal products, make an impact on people, and control his own destiny. Currently, he is the CEO and Co-Founder of Houston-based GoCo, Inc., which aims to simplify and automate business operations and administration for small- to medium-sized businesses.

After starting many of his own online ventures in his youth, Nir bought and managed a Checker Burger in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for two years, providing employment opportunities for family and other community members. After selling the Checker Burger, Nir got the idea for his next business while playing online poker. He wanted to construct a way to use the vast amount of player data available online to give him an advantage. From this brainchild, MarketZero was born.

Compiling player data, MarketZero provided a freemium service that allowed players to look up the playing history of their opponents and use it to their advantage. After grabbing the attention of the online poker industry, Nir was able to navigate MarketZero to a successful exit via an acquisition by the online poker-giant, Zynga.

After MarketZero, Nir began to pursue his next project, Arpeggi Inc, by commercializing a technology a friend of his had developed in his research at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. His professor developed a bioinformatics engine that was able to read large DNA sequences and synthesize the results into an easy-to-understand report for physicians or lab technicians. The technology was used especially to help determine the best course of treatment for cancer patients and those suffering from genetic diseases. Using their valuable IP, Nir once again managed an acquisition by a sequencing lab, Gene by Gene, in Houston that used their technology to provide end-to-end solutions for their customers.<

Serving as Chief Business Officer at Gene by Gene for a little over a year, Nir began to notice lots of inefficiencies in the bureaucracy of running a large company.

In all previous companies I've worn a lot of hats and always got frustrated with how much goes in administrative distractions which were not core to our products or services, but required so much of the founding team's attention. When I was the Chief Business Officer at Gene by Gene, this further became apparent to me while managing 80 employees with outdated HR systems and cluttered file cabinets. As I was looking to modernize our HR workflows and systems, it became apparent to me that the market lacks well rounded solutions aimed at smaller companies.

Setting a goal to replace the large, overfilled filing cabinets with streamlined administrative software engine, GoCo, Inc. was born. Delivering elegant, modern, cloud-based solutions that remove the need for paperwork or frustration, GoCo creates happy companies and happy employees.

Through all of his experience managing businesses and navigating the entrepreneurial landscape, Nir believes there are three core principles that determine the success of a business: team, purpose, and passion. He believes with the right people, deep dedication to a shared goal, and an unwavering sense of resiliency, a team can be successful.

You have to have the right team, pursuing a purpose with passion and conviction, and iterating on solutions in an agile way. That's the foundation of any successful business. The rest is just blood, sweat, and tears, and a non-negotiable attitude to remain persistent and resilient towards perseverance.

Originally from Austin, Nir is excited about growing the local startup community. In fact, Nir recently took over organizing the Houston Lean Startup Circle. “Houston hasn’t quite yet been able to achieve the strong nucleus, but there are great dispersed programs like OwlSpark and others that are making a valid and commendable effort to put Houston Tech on the map,” he said. “I’m optimistic as I’m seeing a lot of great collaboration between the different programs offering startups a platform to accelerate and shine, it’s just a matter of time before this all comes together in a big way.”

When asked about his advice for the OwlSpark and RED Labs teams, he said, “Trust your intuition, leverage your passion, and be resilient. Startups are going to test every fiber of your being, so expect it to be very hard, but have fun and celebrate the ups and the downs.”

Nir resides in Houston with his two daughters and incredibly supportive wife. He claims without a doubt, that his biggest accomplishment was starting his family.