Back in the day, the concept of entrepreneurship in my mind was all about brainiac people who are highly intelligent and talented in having ideas to come up with something that can solve the world’s problems. Entrepreneurship requires strong financial capabilities and the ability to network and touch a wide range of people. There’s a lot to do, and not everyone can do it and succeed at it. This assumption is, however, oversimplified by the fact that many people now open their own companies and bring inventions, innovations that promise to change and cure things for the better. This is an area where Israel is a world leader.
Thanks to the book Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, the definition of entrepreneurship has never become so normal and practical this time today. The Israeli government has been encouraging youth and adults for years to come up with something besides the outdated “go to school and get a job” notion. Most colleges in Israel require their students to start their own companies and bring something to the table. Taking this strategy to heart will drive everyone to reach their own goals, ultimately resulting in a stronger economy for the nation. It is because of this that Tel Aviv has the most start-ups worldwide, even more than Silicon Valley in the world. Some are even calling Tel Aviv the next Silicon Valley because of giants like Google, Nielsen, and Nvidia operating incubators, accelerators, and competitions around Israel. (Snyder, 2019)
How Joining the Army Stimulates the Entrepreneur Spirit of Israeli?
It is mandatory for every Israeli to join the army force, known as the Israel Defense Force (IDF), when they hit the age of 18 and required to serve for at least two years. It features some of the most advanced technology in the world; and, in there, people may have to make life-or-death decisions. Israel’s best and brightest high school graduates don’t go straight to college but serve in the IDF instead. For example, “Unit 8200 trains and drafts Israel’s potential young men and women to become experts in important fields of technological advancement.”, says Pavel Guvrich, CEO and co-founder of Guardicore, a startup in protecting any environment for simplified cloud and data center security. He served for 12 years in the IDF as a cybersecurity expert. Guvrich added “As a by-product of this training, these capable young people get the opportunity to develop unique skills that can later serve them well as entrepreneurs.” (Rubinstein, 2020)
Receiving Supports from The Tnufa Fund
The Israel Innovation Authority’s Tnufa National Pre-seed Fund assists most of the entrepreneurs from Israel and elsewhere. They also help entrepreneurs with applying for a visa. Once the visa is approved, they are eligible to apply for the fund. The fund can be up to NIS 200,000 with a two-year course, which allows recipients to develop their ideas without taking on debt or venture capital. (Snyder, 2019)
It’s The Way How Parents Educate Their Kids
Inbal Arieli, an Israeli entrepreneur and the author of the book, Chutzpah, says that there’s a cultural reason behind Israel’s startup success. It’s a norm for Israeli parents to encourage an entrepreneurial spirit in their children at a very young age. By encountering and learning this, it creates a culture of entrepreneur mindset to every young generation of Israel.
“Israeli childhood is shaped by challenges and risk in a tribal-like community, where children develop the courage to pursue unorthodox and often revolutionary approaches to change and innovation,” Arieli says. Parents also encourage children to build the bonfires themselves. The kids will be in charge of the whole process, from collecting wood to igniting the actual flame. “Lighting the bonfire is a cooperative experience, where kids learn to manage risks and build self-confidence through actual experiment and activity.” This activity leads kids to form the soft skills they need to innovate when faced with life’s challenges later in life, Arieli explains.
Failure Leads to New Opportunities
In 2006, Arieli joined the founding team of Israel startup Modu, which was run by serial entrepreneur Dov Moran, who’s credited with inventing the first flash drive. According to Arieli, Modu raised more than US $120 million and opened subsidiaries around the world. But after three years, the company closed. The employees split and started their own startups. Which would say, one failure that gave birth to many other startups.
Arieli concludes that Israeli society welcomes making mistakes. The country encourages people to try, experience, and experiment their ideas regardless if failure would happen.
Bonus: Enjoy the Entrepreneur Spirit with K-Drama ‘Start-up’
Start-up is a South Korean drama that talks about the dream of young entrepreneurs launching their ideas and competing among other competitors in South Korea’s high-tech industry. The story involves family relationships, teamwork, love, and a restless aim for launching new business ventures. This drama is like no other compared to the typical romantic, cliché Korean drama type, combining new ideas of youngster’s efforts and depicting the reality in the technology industry.
I’ve watched it and liked how it shows a realistic struggle found in real life while remaining balanced. It’s a must-watch!