Mission to Israel – Initiative organize by Startup Lighthouse
Startup Lighthouse is committed to developing cross border connections within and beyond Europe. The project lights the way for startups within Europe by organising 8 Deep Dive Weeks in 4 ecosystems, meeting over 1,600 different ecosystem players in specific themes and culminating with a Lighthouse Award each year. Startup Lighthouse is a Startup Europe initiative.
This was their first tour de force experience from our understanding and therefore selected startups were to be used as pilots so we were excited to be part of this experiment.
The event consisted of 5 full days of deep-dive into the startup ecosystem in Israel, one of the most innovative countries in the world. The program content appeared high quality and rich with numerous detailed activities. This is why it is called Deep Dive Week.
Landed in Tel-Aviv, day one our first session in the program was to visit Startup Nation Central, a government backed Israeli nationwide startup hub and accelerator. At Startup Nation we had a couple of sessions from some of the great minds that are running the programme, and it gave us the bigger picture of how the Israeli startup ecosystem sustained by several entities, including the government bodies.
Next item on the agenda was to visit the Peres Center for Innovation where we had the opportunity to witness some of the most successful stories of the startups. We could stand in front of very interesting looking screens (at human height from the ground) and pick a personality from a variety of backgrounds (business, science, academic and so on) and listen to their stories in a sort of Q&A session. The person who was doing the touring at Peres Center was highly skilled in explaining all around and most importantly, in her intervention during a speaking session she was able to give us short but a brilliant answer about why Israel is one of the world’s dominant countries when it comes to innovation. Her words marked my mind and I can never forget. She said “Israel is one of the most innovative countries in the world because of the necessity and nothing else”. Those were to me the most impressive and remarkable words. It is a rare thing that someone today sparks an idea because of necessity.
After having had our lunch in Jaffa, at one of the most traditional and local places (lovely food), our next item on the agenda visiting one of the most successful web analytics companies called Similarweb. We have had a session with them listening to their success stories and that was the end of our journey for that day, but not quite the end. We had an open invitation to a social evening event, a cyber innovation hub event.
Day two on the agenda was entirely spent at the Google Campus Tel-Aviv. Where we have had several sessions and panel discussions with expert participants. In particular one of the most appealing sessions introduced by Tami Bronner from Vertex Ventures. Tami was coming from cybersecurity startup background as product manager and she has shared her experience and journey through working out a startup. Since we are in the cybersecurity sector as well that may be the reason why I say for me it was the most appealing session but I think this was very much everyone’s feeling.
After we had an amazing tour introduced us by Google Campus management we had a couple of panels sharing their experience in scaling up startups and sharing their secret sauces to success. This was the end of the day but again it wasn’t the end yet. Wine and Dine Israeli style was the next where it was really incredible experience and delicious food all around.
Day three was just one session and the rest of the day was dedicated to DLD event that was on in Tel-Aviv. That one session though, was the best ever. The session was called “Expert Session: 30 seconds, go!” The expert in this session was Lior Shoham, an impressive personality, who happen to transform all of us in 30 minutes about how to explain our businesses and solutions to the market or to different audiences. He was so efficient and such a good performer, it was impossible not to figure out where have I done wrong in progressing/advancing in my business. This guy basically during one of his speeches, in Vienna, called his mother onto stage to explain what his job was. I was speechless when I saw the video and was also very emotional. A genius. The best way to let people know what you do is first you make sure that your mother or father knows what you doing exactly and then you can explain to anyone, you can sell to anyone. This was top for me so far and that was it, I didn’t even want to go to DLD anymore.
Day four was free day and mostly to allow participant startup to go to DLD event as it was on for two days.
Day five, which was the last day of the program but not the journey, was set in Jerusalem. We all had to head to Jerusalem early morning as we had a full day agenda. The first item on the agenda was to visit Orcam an Israeli unicorn company developing artificial vision devices that allow visually impaired people to understand text and identify objects through audio feedback, describing what they are unable to see. Simply amazing, you do a good cause and you do business at the same time. We had the opportunity to try and experiment with their devices. The next item on the agenda was in the university HUJI Innovate at Safra Campus Givat Ram. The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center of the Hebrew University. We had the opportunity to explore and get to know the importance of HUJI Innovate and the role it plays in the Israeli innovation and startup ecosystem.
We had our lunch break at Machneyuda Market, as always delicious food and followed to the next session which was at OurCrowd, where we had the opportunity to explore the looks of series A investment for startups with i great introduction by an expert.
Next and last item on the agenda was Made in JLM. We headed to Jerusalem Foundation building where we met two impressive, one more impressive than other individuals and they shared their experience. The first session was introduced by Uriel Shuraki, the co-founder of Made in JLM, who gave us an overview of the activities of Made in JLM and how this community initiative was so vital for the day to day life in Jerusalem by involving all parts, Christian, Muslims and Jews.
The second part/session at Jerusalem Foundation was introduced by Ben Wiener the managing partner of Jumpspeed Ventures. It is little to say that was breathtaking listening to his personal history and adventure in Jerusalem trying to startup a company relocated from the US. I finally realized I wasn’t the only one who is struggling in this battle of startup venture.
I personally have gained a lot of this experience and highly appreciate the initiative.