The Israel’s lesson on how to engage with start-ups. Three amazing days!

This is the first post of 2013, and this year’s adventure has started with one of the most mind blowing trips I have done in the past years: Israel, certainly the beginning of a love story.
Last time I was there was in 1997, landed in an airport that does not exist anymore (it s brand new) but once there, I felt immediately the vibes and the charm of this country, unchanged.

My dad on Facebook wrote me “you are at the center of the universe” – and he said that because of his fervent religious faith, but no matter if you believe or not, you feel immediately you are somewhere that makes your soul more sensitive.

Let me start by saying that my 3 days on site coincided with the worse weather of the past 20 years, with rain, storms and wind all over. Roads closed, flooded, expected snow in Jerusalem, and this is what the sea looked like from my hotel room:

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The objective of my visit was to beginning to explore the start up Eco-system of the country, which is second only to Silicon Valley (in terms of quality of the incubators)
Israel produces more start ups then Japan, India, Korea, Canada and UK altogether. Surprised?

A recommended reading is
“Start-up nation, the story of Israeli’s economic miracle”, if you want to know more about the story.

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I had the honor to meet Yossi Smoler, from the Chief scientist cabinet, the founder of the government program helping incubators and start-ups to grow.
It s incredible how such a small country succeeded in providing such a vibrant space for entrepreneurs.

One of the incubators, “thetime” explained me how they works, and I took a picture of the most important slide of the presentation:

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Uri Weinheber, CEO of Thetime (www.thetime.co.il) took me through how they select, fund and coach the promising start ups within the government program.
What is AMAZING is that the whole cost of the nationwide program is below 100 M USD, and they have 16 incubators working in it, each mentoring from 3 to 7 start up a year, many of which produced historical exits.

I would like, one day, to partner with some of the bright minds of my country I have the chance to have met already and do something like this in Italy (to start with) … But this is another story.

We had a very successful seminar as well with local fin tech start ups, and despite the horrible storm that made some of the trips to Tel Aviv very difficult, turnout was very good.
Of course, the idea was to promote the start-up challenge for which we will open the applications next week.

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My forecast is that we will have at least 20 start ups applying to the challenge, from Israel only, compared to close to zero last year.

Another place I would like to mention is Jerusalem Venture Partners because I think they have a concept very similar to SWIFT Campus 2.1 but applied to start ups. Again, great example of how a CITY converted a poorly (and kind of dangerous neighbors too at that time) into one of the most vibrant start up places of the planet.

Will end this first glimpse of what I have experienced with a NEW IDEA that occurred to me there and then, during one of the first meetings.
I am sure you are familiar with www.couchsurfing.com.
how about apply the same concept for start ups?

Imagine we could link a dozen of incubators around the world and make a program for start ups willing to test another market (or others markets) with a low risk approach.
These companies could be hosted by the incubator on the other side and get introduced to some local prospects, get to know the opportunities and the constrains of another market, and eventually decide if expand their operations or not.

– it s good for the start ups (obvious)
– it s good for the incubators (new opportunities, increased deal flow)
– it s good for the ecoSystem (job creation, economical development)

I spoke about this with the leaders of all incubators and the government I met, and guess what… They found the idea absolutely great!

I wanted to share it on my blog so the day it will happen I will refer to it as something I published when it was not even a PowerPoint (which I will try not to do… This is the beauty of this world)

Now I go off the grid of few hours, the short night flight from Tel Aviv left me with some need to rest a bit.

I would like to thank all the people from the Israeli government and the Israeli embassy in Belgium who helped in organizing what I hope will be the first of numerous trips over there… I left with the feeling we only scratched the surface.

Stay tuned

Matteo

One thought on “The Israel’s lesson on how to engage with start-ups. Three amazing days!

  1. Looked this was a great trip, Matteo! Like the energy throughout the post. Tell me more when you are back.

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