Double Trouble: Twin Entrepreneurs Build a Company

April 19, 2011
When you establish a company with your identical twin brother, it completely changes your perspective of what really defines you as a professional, an entrepreneur and an executive.

Twin brothers Eyal and Zvi Rabinovich

I think you’ll probably agree that a few of the outstanding characteristics of an entrepreneur are being unique, original and distinct. You constantly look for differentiators, competitive advantages and various ways of standing out from the crowd. But when you establish a company with your identical twin brother, it completely changes your perspective of what really defines you as a professional, an entrepreneur and an executive.

Before founding MoMinis, a company that offers a development platform and sales channel for game developers, my brother Zvi and I managed to live completely separate lives. We went to different schools, hung out with separate groups of friends and were involved in different extracurricular activities. In fact, we hardly knew each other at all. In retrospect, we were looking for ways to define ourselves as individuals. These days, however, we spend every day of the week and often weekends working together, not to mention attending family gatherings and events. Today, we see each other more than we see anybody else in our lives.

We founded MoMinis together with Tzach Hadar in 2008, though we started to work on a joint project long before then in 2005. We were both 21 years old at that time, but had been brainstorming ideas for a startup as long as I can remember. Deciding to launch this startup together changed our relationship extremely and immediately. We certainly had the benefit of working with someone that we knew and trusted completely. However, it was also challenging and frustrating at the same time. I’m not a certified psychologist, nor do I consider myself to be an expert on the relationships of twins, but I do have 26 years of experience of being a twin. Therefore, I will take the liberty of sharing some of my thoughts of what being a twin entrepreneur is all about.

Sliding Doors

While today MoMinis’ primary funding comes from BRM Group and Mitsui Ventures, the capital arm of the Japanese giant Mitsui, the startup received its seed investment from a private investors’ group who believed in our team and our concept. After the first round of financing, Zvi and I realized the company was bound to grow. It was no longer “only us,” and it was clear that we would each have to take on different titles and delegate the responsibilities between the founders. Both Zvi and I are highly technically skilled, and in the earlier days of MoMinis we were both involved in developing our game-creation platform. But there’s no doubt that Zvi likes technology more than I do, and that I appreciate creativity and human interactions more than he does. So when we had to choose our executive-level titles, Zvi decided he wanted to be in charge of the development as VP R&D, and I aimed to try something new in managing the developer marketing, the developer community, and content creation as VP of Community & Content.

If you have ever wondered how a single “sliding door” professional choice can affect your entire life, well, Zvi and I see it every day. This particular choice of responsibility delegation in our startup has changed both of our lives and will certainly continue to do so. I imagine that years from now we will be able to look back and see how this singular decision affected our entire professional future.

Having A Walking And Talking Mirror

When most people want to know how they appear in someone else’s eye, they usually have to go through years of self-analysis or therapy on a psychologist’s couch. All Zvi and I have to do is to walk across the hall. As a twin, you literally get to see the ugly truth all the time. Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to this inherent condition. On the positive side, you have the unique luxury of observing yourself from the outside, understanding the way you think, examining your weaknesses and strengths and hopefully learning from this. On the negative side, it can be quite disconcerting. Let’s face it, nobody wants to have their weaknesses thrown in their face every single day. At times, it’s just a bit exhausting.

The “Exactly-The-Same” Syndrome

The most common reaction when people first meet us is: “Wow, you look exactly the same,” or even worse, “Wow, you are exactly the same person.” Think about the last time someone told you that you are “just like” someone else they know. The first thought that goes through your mind is “not really,” and then you probably mentally list all the characteristics that make you much better than your “virtual” twin, all the more so if you are by nature, an entrepreneur. We all like to assume that we are more intelligent, more loveable and better looking than we actually are (although most of the time we are not). Working so closely together helped Zvi and me comprehend ourselves realistically, and to really see both the negative and positive sides of each other.

Communication In The Company

As twin brothers, our relationship can sometimes become explosive. Our open communication and the closeness we feel with each other can be beneficial, but at times it’s also a pain. As an entrepreneur and a manager, one of the biggest challenges is to put emotion aside when it comes to professional matters. It’s not always easy, especially when you are required to make decisions that are a matter of life and death for your business. Now, imagine having to do this when your mother is in the conference room, and amplify that feeling by 10. “Challenging” would be an understatement. With time, this challenge has helped us grow and improve in focusing our discussions on the things that really matter, leaving the irrelevant pains and disputes out of the equation.

Bringing Your Work Home, Literally

Part of being entrepreneurs means that we spend a lot of sleepless nights, long hours and never ending weeks in the office (or garage). We all take our work home, but most of us have safe and quiet havens which allow us to escape, even for a few hours, from our hectic schedules. Normally, you can find this in the comfort of your family, but in our case, our family comfort zone can turn into a battle field. A nice family dinner can turn, in a manner of seconds, into a “passionate discussion” about the latest events in the company. Being twins, our family is already used to us having our private discussion at the dinner table, but these kinds of debates constantly test the boundaries of what is acceptable at home and what’s not. Finding the right balance was hard in the beginning, but ultimately we learned to do so.

Knowing Your Partners And Trusting Them

Choosing a trustworthy partner isn’t an easy task. It’s difficult to know who you can trust and who will stick it out with you when the challenges pile up. An entrepreneur’s world is filled with challenges, difficulties and disappointments, and having a good partner can either make or break your business. Although we grew to be different, Zvi and I are still very much alike. I know how Zvi thinks, what makes him tick and what’s important to him because I know the same things about myself. There is something very comforting in having another “you” in your company. It’s double the trouble, but it also doubles the gain.

Since Zvi and I started to work together, our company has grown significantly. Today, there are over 25 people working in MoMinis. We’ve extended our business to Japan, Western and Eastern Europe and soon the United States. Zvi manages R&D and I manage the mobile games creation and the marketing of our development tools to the developer community. We have separate departments, goals and occupational domains. And still, some of our board members cannot tell the difference between us.

Being twins will forever be a part of our lives, and will continue to shape us as entrepreneurs and managers. I believe that being twins who work and innovate together has helped us mature and grow, and also pushed us to make the best of ourselves. The nice thing about being an entrepreneurial twin – I don’t need to ask Zvi if he feels the same as I do. I know he does.

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