Tomorrow I am leaving for Israel on what will be my fiftieth adventure. While I should call it a “business trip,” I don’t. I don’t consider what I do when I am in Israel as doing business. It’s really magic and discovery, which manifests itself as business. Over the last 20 years, I have been fortunate to work on the beginnings of what today are considered mainstream, everyday applications and platforms that all had their birth in Israel.
I worked with teams who helped create the beginnings of carrier grade VoIP, WiFi, IPTV, Rapid Prototyping, all flavors of computer security, and most of all had a chance to work with some really smart and nice people.
Some companies succeeded and some failed.
AudioCodes saw an IPO. Envara was acquired by Intel. CopperGate was acquired by SigmaDesigns. One of my U.S. clients, Mercom, was acquired by Israel-based Verint. There were many more, which you may view here.
Over the last four years, I’ve worked with various Israel-based startups, did a lot of mentoring and volunteering at major accelerators, and came to see a whole new generation of entrepreneurs that were building on the much of the infrastructure that was built by the teams I have worked with.
This trip, I am on several missions for Rackspace, SXSW and The City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department, where I live, who are sponsoring me. While each have separate and distinct objectives, they are, in many ways, very much connected to each other.
Rackspace has a terrific startup program and last year, acquired its first Israeli company, ZeroVM. San Antonio represents the future demography of the United States and I believe is a great testing ground for new products and technologies. I have friends who have launched and grown their businesses with their beginnings on the floors of SXSW.
For Rackspace, my focus will be on their startup program, meeting with customers, seeking out partnerships with accelerators, and mentoring startups who need guidance on their communications and PR strategies. For SXSW, I will be meeting with startups who have been to Austin for the 10-day interactive, music and film festival and encouraging others to join us in Austin in March of 2015. For The City of San Antonio, I will be attending the “Cracking The Innovation Code” event, which takes place during DLD. I am also going to be doing research at The Library to see how the City of Tel Aviv has repurposed part of their space for a startup accelerator. We have an initiative that was created by our former Mayor, and now H.U.D. Secretary, Julian Castro, known as Café Commerce – a resource center for startups and small businesses. On the horizon, I am looking at ways to link the State of Texas with the State of Israel and in areas such as water, cyber-security, agriculture, energy and health care.
All of these platforms are shifting to the cloud and with open-source technology running on OpenStack, there’s no telling what could be.
With my children now grown, I am looking for ways to spend extended times in Israel. I am also looking to study what I call the digital migration patterns of Israeli startups as they make the transition from Israel to New York, Boston, and Silicon Valley.
I would like to see more startups expand their U.S. operations in Texas. While I am biased to where I live in San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston have great ecosystems and their own distinct character.
While I am booked up for the week of September 7, followed by the week of September 13 for DLD, I have left Sunday and Monday, September 21 and 22 open for follow ups from DLD and chance meetings and encounters that will take place on this next adventure. I am thankful for my sponsors who are trusting to me guide them on what could be in StartupNation.
It’s not a case of leaving things to chance, but having a belief in the magic of serendipity and a bit of faith that I will return and report on many new opportunities that will come from yet another adventure.