There are more and more specialized accelerators, catering to different types of entrepreneurs – and with different needs that go beyond fund raising, mentoring, and general startup advise.
In May of this year, I hopped a train from Tel Aviv to Modi’in. In less time that it takes most people to commute from Long Island to Manhattan, or anywhere from point A to point B in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was sitting in middle of a soon to be completed build-out of an expanding and rapidly growing workspace: MESH.
No, I was not on Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv near all the fabulous cafes and restaurants. And I was not in Herzliya, surrounded by every major technology R&D center that has planted their flag in order to tap into the minds of Israel’s best of the best.
I was in Modi’in.
I went into what used to be Office Depot Israel’s corporate headquarters, which was being gutted, expanded and given new life, in a new type of co-working space.
Fast forward to earlier this week, I hopped back on the train and got a sneak preview of what I can only call MESH 2.0.
Unlike most co-working spaces I see, the most insightful part of the tour turned out to be… the lunch room.
I sat and had lunch with several entrepreneurs and listened to their story of why they were here at MESH. This was not scripted. We did not plan on this happening. It just happened, and here’s what I discovered:
There are people in their late 20’s, and early-to-mid 30’s that are married, have kids, and work. Some have jobs, and some are entrepreneurs. Some work for a startup in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, and being in Modi’in they have to commute.
When your kids are small, they don’t drive. They get sick. They have runny noses and there are school programs you want to go to. They need to be picked up for doctor’s appointments, after school lessons, and just want chill time and a chance to be a kid. They want a snack, or maybe they need help with homework.
In the photos in this story, you can see what a great space Elisha Moshe, Aaron and their team have created. Some of the art you see on the walls are original and very much a part of the MESH brand.
Over lunch, I heard stories of how one mother, who handles all back-office infrastructure for her company used to commute to and from Jerusalem every day. Operating out of MESH she added not only 2 hours more to her day of productivity, but she actually was able to go from being part time to being full time. Another dad told me that he can ride his bike to MESH, let his wife have the car as she needs it, and even share the car with his mother-in-law. (What a great way to win brownie points with your wife’s mom!)
I also met two young, single entrepreneurs, doing a really cool music related startup. They did not necessarily fit the profile described above. They happened to live in the area, and simply found it more convenient and more productive to operate from MESH.
There were also some pretty serious companies, doing some pretty serious things. I met one company who was reinventing a whole new approach to hosting PBX systems in the cloud. I met another startup that I was onboarding to the Rackspace Startup program who helps connect air conditioning contractors in the U.S. with their customers.
Some here at MESH are Israelis who were born here. Others have come from all over the world – by choice. And all have one thing in common as MESH: they are here by choice, have taken a different path, and building a community of helping and sharing that I believe can be replicated in other non-traditional areas of the country.
While Modi’in may be perceived as a bedroom, commuter community, I think the impact that Elisha and his team are making will help change this perception.
On November, Tuesday, November 25 at 8:00 PM, MESH is having a grand opening celebration of their new expansion.
As a reader of this column, I want to invite you. Here’s a link to the event.
Come see what’s happening in Modi’in – watch for yourself as the ecosystem of Israel’s startup and innovation economy continues to expand.