It did not take long for the electric energy of the Start-Up Nation to reignite after the 8-day national standstill over Passover. Last week on April 23, 2014 Your Start App hosted “Between Valleys” as part of their series of events bridging the world’s top innovation hubs – Silicon Valley and Israel’s Silicon Wadi (Arabic word for “valley”).
At Google’s Tel Aviv Campus over 170 entrepreneurs, and many more following the live stream, gathered to hear from a panel of accomplished and influential serial entrepreneurs.
“Between Valleys is all about connecting entrepreneurs and startups from Israel’s wadi and the Silicon Valley with different skills and fostering an environment for them to help each other,” explained Your Start App founder Yisrael Gross. His company aims to cultivate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs in particular by fostering collaborations to advance the Israeli high-tech industry.
Yaacov Ozer, the VP of Business Development and co-founder of LogoUI, provided opening remarks about the importance of improving the Silicon Valley – Start-Up Nation connection. Next the crowd heard Izhar Shay from Canaan Partners Israel lead a discussion about solving some of the world’s technological problems with Angel investor Zohar Levkovitz and Yaacov Ben-Yaacov, founder and CEO of Catch Media.
The Noteworthy Personalities
Izhar Shay is most notably known for his promotion of Israeli high-tech through Start-Up Stadium, a digital platform that connects thousands of Israeli entrepreneurs and investors. Since joining global venture capital firm Canaan Partners in 2005 as its General Manager, Izhar has facilitated dozens of investments in Israeli’s cloud, mobile and digital media sectors. He himself has launched and sold a few startups, including V-Secure Technologies that was acquired by Radware in 2005 for $15 million.
Zohar Levkovitz is a serial entrepreneur turned Angel investor who recently sold his Silicon Valley-headquartered advertising company Amobee Inc. to Singapore Telecom Ltd. for $321 million in cash. In 2011 he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young in California and is currently Chair of the US Board of Israel SpaceIL, a nonprofit that aims to be the first small robotic spacecraft to successfully land on the Moon.
Yaacov Ben-Yaacov is the founder and CEO of Catch Media, a cloud-based B2B tracking, routing and clearinghouse service that created its Play Anywhere® platform and technology. The veteran US-Israeli high-tech entrepreneur is also the founder of PictureVision that was sold to Eastman Kodak in 2000 for over $150 million.
Dare to Fail… and Re-ignite
The investors emphasized the importance of the individuals who form the startup. The people are first; the innovation is secondary. Noteworthy entrepreneurs are those that dare to dream, dare to pursue those dreams and turn them into reality despite the risks and obstacles.
“You have to be in a society that accepts failures as part of the way to do business,” says Shay. The Silicon Valley and Silicon Wadi are those societies. Between Valleys is an excellent way to connect the two environments that capitalize on risk taking. Each can learn from the other – Israel can learn from California’s professionalism while the Sun Shine state can adapt some of Israel’s informalities. Yet both start-up ecosystems consist daring individuals and a leniency for failure as a means of growth.
The cooperation is happening. There ought to more events pooling together savvy, creative minds from the two main start-up ecosystems to bridge two centers of startup cultivation.
The momentum is only beginning as this electric pipeline ignites and inspires a new current of innovations.