Two years ago, I crossed paths with Sharon Chan at TechLoft in Tel Aviv.  I was holding an event for the SXSW Interactive / Film / Music festival that happens in Austin, Texas every spring.

Sharon told me about her role in bringing students from National University of Singapore to Israel to study, join a startup, and learn… yes, learn chutzpah. You can see my video interview with her here on my blog that I posted before I started writing for The Times of Israel.

Fast forward two years later, where I met Piyush Varanjani, who came from India to study at Sharon’s school in Singapore, and then on to Israel, where he is currently at The Zell Entrepreneurship Program – IDC Herzliya and working as an Intern at Tracx.

Headed by Yossi Dan, Startup Pirates took place during the the recent DLD Festival, and was an intensive eight-day program aimed at creating a startup with a group of strangers from all over the world. Piyush was a part of eight teams who took part in the Startup Pirates Tel Aviv where I mentored, gave a talk on story-telling, branded content and PR.

Piyush’s team, Bouncer, won the Startup Pirates competition. Bouncer is an app, which allows people to skip lines at a club by bidding up a spot.  Separately, Piyush is working on his own startup, The Pitch, an online platform to showcase your pitches to the world to get feedback from experts and visibility.

When I say all over the world, I am not exaggerating.

There were teams from France, England, the U.S., Russia, India and even some from Israel who had made Aliyah and were now citizens.

What struck me about this program was that it illustrated something that I had not seen before in all of my going back and forth from the U.S.  And that’s the fact that Israel is attracting young people from all over the world to come not only to study, but to learn and intern at Israel-based startups.

As in the case of Piyush, they have no religious, cultural, or family ties to Israel.   They are there simply because Israel is the best place on planet earth to study, join a startup, and meet other bright, liked-minded people from all over the world.

And to Sharon’s point:  it’s also about Chutzpah; a mindset students and entrepreneurs like Piyush can take back home, and apply it in their academic and career pursuits.

Special thanks to Rackspace, who was one of the sponsors of Startup Pirates Tel Aviv.