Start-Up Crusader

It’s easy to see why Google picked Ezequiel Vidra, the man that everyone on Campus knows as Eze, to head up the co-working space on Bonhill Street that has become the focal point of Tech City. Vidra, a scheduled speaker at Le Web London 2013, has the global perspective needed to run a Campus that houses 22 nationalities: he was born in Argentina, moved to Israel when he was eight, lived in both New York City and Silicon Valley as an adult and then migrated to London.

He understands tech: having honed his coding skills in summer camps as a child, Vidra worked for Shopping.com (then known as Dealtime.com) in Israel, where he helped develop a new sophisticated search engine for the site; at Ask.com in the U.S. as a senior product manager; and at AOL Europe, as a principal product manager, EU Search and later as head of search products; before being hired by Google in August 2010 as a strategic partnerships development manager.

Vidra caught entrepreneur fever at a young age and understands what it is like to launch a high-tech start-up: as a student he pushed to be admitted to an elite program for entrepreneurs, the Zell Program of IDC Herzilya, where he co-founded the first entrepreneur club in Israel. He then helped launch a start-up in Israel in 2003 called SlideIT, which developed a text input solution for hand-held devices that provided an improved user experience, and later worked for another start-up called the Gerson Lehrman Group, a primary research network for connecting experts with hedge funds.

And, Vidra was already plugged into the London start-up community when the job opened up: not long after moving to London after his wife was accepted to the London School of Economics, Vidra went to work for AOL Europe and met Index Ventures’ Neil Rimer. Rimer introduced him to Saul Klein, who asked Vidra to become a mentor at Seedcamp, a London-based microseed investment fund and mentoring program which has been operating in Europe for just over five years. Vidra advised early-stage start-ups on their products, UI, marketing and go-to-market strategy at Seedcamp Week in London in 2008, 2009 and 2010. He later helped bring Seedcamp into Campus as one of its partners.

Vidra is ambitious: he honed leadership skills and developed discipline and his work ethic in the Israeli Army, where he served as a tank platoon commander and chief instructor, earning the rank of lieutenant.

He is the kind of guy who when he goes after something goes in with the attitude that failure is not an option. When he heard about the opening for Campus London manager Vidra developed a detailed written plan for exactly how he would execute as Campus manager and handed it to the recruiter.

Along with the Army, Vidra says losing his father at a young age and being the child of immigrants shaped the man he is today. “I learned perseverance and that I have to rely on myself,” he says. Not one to rest on his laurels, he says, “there is always the next goal.”

Friends and supporters often describe him as “wicked smart” and say that his enthusiasm and charm make him a natural community builder. “I think the over-arching thing about Eze is his ability to make things happen,” says Benjamin Southworth, deputy CEO of the Tech City Investment Organization. “He uses contacts, charm and intelligence to ensure the results are as he planned, is universally well regarded, never says a bad word about anyone and pushes himself to the limits daily. He is an inspiration to many and a force for good.”

One of the things Vidra says he is most proud of accomplishing since taking on the job as Campus Manager is co-organizing — along with Southworth and Cyclr founder Gerry Newton, an event called Tech Bikers, a collaboration of the London tech start-up community to help children in need by supporting a charity called Room to Read.Between September 21st and 23rd last year, Vidra, Southworth and 38 other tech professionals — including start-ups, venture capitalists and executives — cycled 200 miles from Paris to London to earn money for the charity, raising $50,000 to build two schools in Nepal. That was in his spare time.

On any given day Vidra can be found bounding up and down the stairs on Campus, greeting business and government leaders, interviewing famous authors and entrepreneurs on stage, or mentoring start-ups during Google Office Hours. It’s a job that requires Vidra to constantly promote start-ups — something he is passionate about — and be “always-on” and, he says, he wouldn’t want it any other way.

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