Open Letter to the Global Technology & Investment Community| MENTAL TOUGHNESS MAKES FOR SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS |RESUME FLIGHTS TO ISRAEL

I’m a born and bred American who moved to Israel nearly nine years ago – for purely capitalistic reasons – to both receive my EMBA from the Kellogg School of Management’s partnership with Tel Aviv University and learn firsthand what it’s like to be involved with the global innovation ecosystem. Yes, I said global – not Israeli innovation ecosystem because in the past nine years it’s been my association with premier Israeli start-ups that has most captured the attention of international financial and strategic investors, technology giants and university students.

Seasoned executives in Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, New York, Russia and Silicon Valley are most impressed with the fortitude, resilience and innovation that emanates from the very fiber of Israel’s high tech society.  Most multinational tech players have established key offices in all regions of Israel-for commercial, strategic and business impact. Companies such as Lockheed Martin in Beersheba, Intel in Haifa and Kiryat Gat (southern Israel), Google in Tel Aviv, SAP in  Karmiel –Northern Israel and the list goes on and on.

Having just returned from NY and the Bay Area to the geopolitical reality that confronts Israel today, I read about the dire predictions from those in the US and Europe on whether the current political and military situation in Gaza will impact Israel’s long term business potential. And I feel compelled to convey certain facts.

First lesson we have learned is that adversity and tough mental and physical conditions produce stronger and successful companies. Throughout Israel’s young 66 year old history as  an independent State, the country has witnessed and experienced wars, battles, confrontations, and terror attacks — each unpleasant to say the least, each disrupting to an extent a certain quality of family life

Yet, Israel has not only persevered but flourished. Indeed its tremendous success in the high-tech sector has yielded so many successful companies and M&A’s (one only need to look at NASDAQ traded companies) –that Israel has rightfully been referred to as the Second Silicon Valley or Start-up Nation.

Precisely because many of Israel’s high tech entrepreneurs are graduates of elite army units – which in turn breed accelerators to further spur commercial innovation they are called into reserve duty.  They are then on the frontlines of both ground forces and intelligence units – when unease and dispute arises with its militant neighbors. Being drafted, dealing with warfare then returning to business deals and customers is part of what creates stronger and more durable – hence successful – entrepreneurs.

Israeli entrepreneurs have finely tuned the six elements of mental toughness described by Christine M. Riordan, Dean at the Daniels College of Business, University of Denver –  key factors for highly successful athletes and business leaders.  Flexibility. Responsiveness. Strength. Courage & Ethics. Resiliency.  Sportsmanship. “ Game-ready leaders are able to exert and resist great force when under pressure and to keep going against insurmountable odds.”

In business terms, Israel’s economic and technology success in the competitive landscape among its ‘competitors’, e.g. neighboring countries, has far exceeded the size of its land mass and population.  The Israeli society is built on creativity and perseverance.  Creativity genius is matched with business prowess and continuous perseverance.  This has resulted in many solutions to major problems confronting nations worldwide, in security, energy, agriculture, water and logistics.

Another catalyst has been the fact that Israel has had to be global from Day 1 of statehood.  Israel lacks trade partners given the ‘island’ Israel lives on-surrounded by nations without diplomatic relations.  Israel is a repeatable technology success story that can be scaled and repeated—Israel is an investment to bank on.

I am sure you’ve heard before how necessity is the mother of innovation. Israel, being the sole country in the Middle East without any real natural resources has been the harbinger, the hallmark of innovating in agrotech, water conservation and desalinization, and energy efficiency as well as smarter city solutions – because it has no choice.

Google, Intel, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Texas Instruments, and many other companies have established offices in Israel-employing thousands of Israelis-for a good reason.  They know they have made an excellent investment in people and technology by establishing a serious presence here-many targeting Israel as its only global R&D center or new accelerator program.

In addition to Kellogg , other leading business schools have invested in Israel; Wharton established a seminar abroad with IDC (Herzliya private university) and Cornell recently created a partnership with the Technion (Israel’s ‘MIT’) and more.

In these times when the technology and business picture may be overshadowed by reports on CNN of the latest rockets and Iron Dome defense – also an Israeli innovation – one should reflect on the iconic words of Warren Buffet as he invested in Iscar, an Israeli company (2013).

Buffet  cited in an article  Israel is the “Most Promising Investment Hub.  “The determination, motivation, intelligence and initiative of its people are remarkable and extraordinary. I’m a big believer in Israel’s economy…I didn’t invest the money in any other country. That’s the strongest vote of confidence I can give you, no?” he added.

So what are you waiting for? Urge all the US and European airlines to resume flights to Israel ASAP and see the technology miracle for yourself.  Israel  will continue to thrive – providing needed and extraordinary innovation to the world.

Esther Loewy is the CEO & Founder of Upround Ventures

 

 

About the Author
Esther Loewy is the CEO and founder of Upround Ventures which ups the value proposition for entrepreneurs, investors, partners and the global innovation ecosystem. Upround Ventures addresses the Series A/B chasm, acutely felt by premium Israeli start-ups which are scaling, gaining traction and penetrating the US and Asia. Esther brings her experiences as an entrepreneur, member of the management team of one of the most recorded IPO's in history and her work in the US, Israel, Europe and Asia, to secure investments and strategic partnerships for the company and startups. In the past 15 months she and her seasoned team and advisors have has spearheaded Upround to focus Eastward to Hong Kong, China and SE Asia. Esther launched Upround based on her experience of co-founding and leading her previous company, Bootcamp Ventures, to engage seed stage start-ups and investors worldwide. She provided hands on strategic guidance to an array of start-ups and was instrumental in expanding the company’s global investor and partner network. In under two years she worked closely to secure capital for multiple promising start-ups such in big data, security, edu-tech, mobile and more. Esther is a mentor at IBM SmartCamp Tel Aviv and is a member of the Global Accelerator Network (GAN). She was invited by KOTRA to mentor Korean start-ups at the January 2014 Startup showcase event. She was also selected to be a “Global Ambassador” to the StartmeupHK competition in December 2013. Esther is frequently invited to speak or write about entrepreneurship, innovation and investment from a global perspective. Previously, Esther was recruited to build Alvarions first in-house Investor Relations department. Earlier in her career, Esther headed corporate communications for theglobe.com, where her global branding and communications strategies directly impacted on alliances and paved the way for one of the world's most successful initial public offerings. She holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Esther is originally from New York and moved to Israel in 2005 with her husband and two children.
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