For Tali Kaplinski Tarlow, building a successful business may have been a natural progression of building upon strengths and passion. But it also demanded that she get out of her own way.
Tali Kaplinski Tarlow has always been an informal educator, from her early years as a youth leader in Bnei Akiva to founding and directing Israel ScaVentures. The need for flexible hours combined with her deep knowledge of combining fun with learning has rewarded her family and the tens of thousands of people that have already participated in Israel ScaVentures. Tali’s story is about turning your passion into purpose and profit. But it is also about building a strong team and knowing when it is time to step out of your own way.
Passion, Purpose, Profit
From a youth leader in Bnei Akiva in tenth grade through university to a degree in Jewish History and Middle Eastern studies, Tali’s career as an informal educator started at the age of 15 and has just kept going. And so the success of Israel ScaVentures shouldn’t really be surprising considering that it builds upon Tali’s strengths and passion. “Everything I’ve always done has always been the same. It’s always been about making meaning for things.”
The passion to teach brought Tali from South Africa (where she was born and raised) to Israel and then to Australia, London and back to Israel. Throughout all those years, Tali has taught, created curriculums and has tutored, many times on a freelance basis. But the real fun began when a tour guide asked her to develop scavenger hunts for tourists.
“This was something I had never done before, and I was delighted to be given a broad goal, without any instruction so that I could put my own creative stamp on it. I ran scavenger hunts for his clients for about a year, and when we stopped working together, he was happy to let me keep the concept that I had developed.”
Tali then brought the scavenger hunts she had to developed to the groups she was teaching. After continuously receiving amazing feedback, she decided to give the concept a name: Jerusalem Scavenger Hunts, and build a website to go with it.
“The first day the website was up, I got my first booking. I took pictures of my clients, made a Facebook page and tagged them. It blew up from there – that was June 2009.”
Your business has to serve you
Israel ScaVentures is constantly and consistently reaching new heights – with a number of growing routes, guides and participants. Tali shared that working with a business consultant, Rifka Lebowitz (also owner of the Facebook group Living Financially Smarter in Israel) has helped her set her business on the right track, building success upon success, and then creating new goals and hitting them.
“By August 2009, I had trained one guide to work when I couldn’t, and by October that year I had a team of eight guides. Two years later I had developed multiple games in Jerusalem, and I launched the Tzfat Scavenger Hunt. I then renamed the business Israel ScaVentures.”
When building a business, everything has to add up, everything has to make sense and ultimately, it needs to serve you. For Tali, who has children with special needs, those requirements were the same – her business would need to serve her and I love that she was able to find a way to create a business that doesn’t always need to have her around. Once Tali had the infrastructure and a strong and talented team in place, Tali could make sure that she was around when she needed to be, but could schedule her time in a way that would allow her to meet the demands of her family.
Often times, when family situations are not extreme and don’t make extra demands on our time, I wonder if we as women entrepreneurs search for the creative solutions that can help our businesses serve us even more.
I don’t know the answer. But I know that Tali serves as an inspiration to help us all think more creatively to get more out of our businesses.
Step out of your own way
There are so many moving parts to building any business and Israel ScaVentures is no different. In fact, when Tali had the idea to build an app that would provide a new level of experience for ScaVenturers, she found herself constantly missing deadlines and not moving the project forward. At a certain point she realized that she had too much resistance to the project in order to lead it forward successfully, and at that point she decided that it was time to hand it over to her team.
Once Tali handed the app project over it took three months to get it off the ground. The new Shuk Dash App has recently been launched, and it will serve as a launching pad for the next scaling of ScaVentures.
Tali and I met for over an hour, which means that we covered a lot of ground. Here are a few more takeaways from our conversation:
1. What do you find challenging?
It’s always challenging to move to the next stage, to do something new. I’m always living with fear.
2. Do you have a mentor?
I desperately searched for a mentor – a woman in my field, five years ago. And I couldn’t find one – not a man or a woman. So I don’t have a mentor, but I have been learning from my peers…I would actually call it a peer mentorship. I try to be a mentor to others, both women in my field, and others who are starting new businesses, and who need some brainstorming sessions.
3. What does feminism mean to you?
Doing my own thing in my own way.
4. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Yeah. But it’s not an issue that’s on the top of my agenda. The tourism industry is very male dominated and as a religious female, I work very differently from the norm. At times it is isolating and challenging, and at times I enjoy shaking things up and rising to the top of it all.
5. How do you stay inspired?
By always changing, always thinking of something new and by being creative.