Micah's Mashup

Startup Events in Startup Nation

Most people might get sick of 3 consecutive days of entrepreneurially focused events, but not me. Just the other night I was talking with a wise friend about what energizes us; him being 60% on the introvert side said he gets his energy(recharges his batteries) by unwinding at home with a book. I, on the other side being a 60(or more)% extravert, get my energy from interacting with people.

The first event I attended was at Tel Aviv University hosted by their Entrepreneurial center StarTau. TAU Innovation Day was part of an entire Innovation Conference at the University. The first part of the event consisted of visiting booths of Israeli and International startups as well as a pitch competition going on upstairs. The evening speakers is really what I want to focus on. We heard from many amazing speakers, but a few stuck out as really exceptional.

Shimon Peres (91 years old) has served as both Israeli President and Prime Minister in addition to numerous other positions and someone whom I have heard about since a very young age. He spoke to a crowd of a few hundred attendees in a fireside style chat loosely based on Entrepreneurship and Leadership. From the second he was on stage he possessed a serious decorum which was illustrated through his quick putdown of a joke the moderator tried to start off with. As the talk went on he started to loosen up and even told some jokes of his own, below are some quotes from him I found to be interesting and relevant.

“Innovation is trying to get rid of the past”

“It’s not about the size of your country but about the number of scientists per square kilometer.”

“Don’t dream too small”

“Gates, Zukerberg and Jobs… They didn’t kill anyone or turn to violence, but look they started a revolution!”

“Don’t be afraid to be naive & try to outsmart… you don’t know what can happen!”

“Don’t listen to your teachers or parents, they don’t know your capabilities”

And finally one of his closing jokes “My greatest enemy is Sigmund Freud. He wants to make a complex for me, I’m not a complex, I AM A HUMAN! Just let me be me.”

Quick insights on the talks by a few of the other speakers.

Peter Shankman shared with us his experiences starting a newsletter sent to a quarter of a million people with a 70% open rating and website Help a Reporter Out (HARO). He spoke about how he was able to succeed by delighting customers but not in the way I’ve heard it talked about before. “Treat your customers a little better than they expect; Treat them a level above crap” was mentioned a few times. His 4 other keys to success included;

1. Transparency- Own up when you screw up.

2. Relevance- Understand your audience, talk to them, respond to emails directly.

3. Brevity- Become better communicators! (This post fails in this criteria.)

4. Peter Predicting the Future- Thinks web 3.0 via social sentiment should and will replace “friend requests, following, accepting, blocking, etc.

Finally, Haley Van Dyck spoke with us about her experience as the co-founder of the United States Digital Service, a new “start-up” inside the White House building services for the American people that will work better and cost less! Her blog actually has a bunch of information she talked about so check it out here if interested.

I’ve already failed in the Brevity category so I’ll sum up the next 2 events quick!

Masa Israel Journey hosted an event at the ICC Jerusalem and I attended a talk on Entrepreneurship and startups. We heard from a guy who highlighted some of the great Israel success stories, Waze being one of the biggest. He also had a decent summary of “Why Israel” I’ll summarize below.

Why Israel?

  • Jews study; since the 13th century B.C. and maybe before “Though shall study” was ingrained in their mind.
  • Jews Argue- 3 Jews 10 opinions.
  • Israel had developed top universities and has many academics and scholars per capita
  • Jews as pioneers- They have been working to build Israel for the past 100+ years
  • Improvise to survive- Spanish Inquisition, Holocaust, War of Independence Jews have had to think creatively to survive
  • Aliyah- in the 90’s many highly skilled Russian immigrants came to Israel
  • IDF- Israel’s army helps grow leaders that thrive in entrepreneurial and tech excellence and are not afraid to challenge authority or the status quo.

The last event was at a Law firm in Tel Aviv and we discussed more about the Entrepreneurial landscape in Israel. It was interesting to learn that the Israeli Government sponsors 18 incubator programs to help de-risk the startup process for entrepreneurs by providing government investment capital and services.

Well that’s all for now. Congratulations is in order if you’ve managed to make it through this entire post!

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