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Israel, the Startup Nation

by Weronika Pukrop

Tech giant, cradle for businesses, home of thousands of young entrepreneurs. How the country with the population of 8.8 million holds over 6,000 startups? The insights on Israel’s economic miracle

It’s no news that Israel is the Startup Nation – it’s become the most important tech scene in the recent years. Numbers speak for themselves: The amount of startups doubled since 2012 and in 2019, the equity investments more than doubled from the previous year, reaching the record of 1.8 billion (!) dollars. And the potential keeps growing – the fintech sector alone brought 69% of international investors, along with new knowledge, experience and, most importantly, clients. The numbers are surely impressive, but there is one question that many still can’t wrap their heads around: What is the secret of this vast success?

Netta Doron works closely with startups in Israel doing personal branding, marketing and presentations to prepare the companies for investors and clients and she shared her insights on the topic. She also teaches a lot of executives and startup owners, despite them being technology savvy – they are usually not story-tellers. So, what’s so special about the startup entrepreneurs of Israel?

Netta Doron, Photo Credit: Elad Ackerman
Netta Doron, Photo Credit: Elad Ackerman

Prepared for changes

“We are still a very young nation. We are constantly evolving and changing – also in the development of technology”, Netta says. Because of Israel’s unique geographical and political situation, its nation is used to surprises or the need to adjust quickly and effectively. Due to the security issues, people are always alert and are familiar with how to act in the state of emergency. “This is even shown in the current pandemic. Yes, it was also new for us, but we adjusted”, says Netta. And it’s true: Even though it is said that many startups and businesses already suffered in Israel due to Corona, there is a silver lining – the shift brought new technology trends, which the tech savvy country will surely adapt and tap the opportunity to evolve even more in this field. The negative can be turned into positive if you are ‘fluid’ and dynamic enough, which is something that Israelis do not lack.

Diversity creates a fertile ground for business

Israel is a very diverse mix and it works well in their advance in the business world: “We are full of initiatives as we are a diverse bunch: Jews, Muslims, Christians, all kinds of people all from different origins. It’s a special blend that results in a very dynamic society”, says Netta. Diversity has long ago proven to be an excellent accelerator of creativity and innovation and Israel’s society is using that in its advantage.

“People in Israel are very technology savvy, especially women and they cannot be omitted in this discussion”

Women startup scene

What about gender diversity? There’s still a way to go, if we take a close up look at the thriving Israeli startups, we mostly see men. However, the situation is slowly changing, not only in Israel but also worldwide. Netta works with women entrepreneurs and she admits that they lack confidence, unlike their male counterparts. “People in Israel are very technology savvy, especially women and they cannot be omitted in this discussion”, she says.

Encouragement feeds the development

What is the great advantage that Israel has? Support. The government actively encourages people in the startup scene. “They want to help developing the startups even more, there is a lot of funding, programs and incentives, so there is definitely a great deal of support from the state”, Netta says. For example, Startup Nation Central, which is an independent non-profit organization, aims to empower and strengthen Israeli tech startup scene. There is also The Israeli Innovation Center, where visitors can familiarize themselves with the innovation story of the country, which helps with promotion and with acquiring potential investors.

The government also plays an important role here – this year, it passed the legislation to encourage investors in tech companies. The program was designed for current businesses to help them survive the pandemic. Moreover, in April this year,  the government assigned nearly 200 million dollars plan to invest in and boost Israeli tech industry, distributed by the Israel Innovation Authority.

“We are still a very young nation. We are constantly evolving and changing – also in the development of technology”

The source of modern innovations

Whether it is Israelis’ DNA, the unique situation and history or the encouragement to develop innovative technologies (sometimes due to necessities), it is undeniable that as a result, Israel has the highest venture capital per capita in the world. Diverse society, out-of-the-box thinkers and being able to adjust fuelled by the (mandatory) army training – one thing is sure: The rest of the world has still a lot to learn and a lot of catching up to do.

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