I worked in media and communications in Israel for more than 20 years. During that time I worked in real news, but also for service journalism sites, and for one contract where we wrote for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is an industry in Israel focused on spinning Israel into a Startup Nation and I was part of it for many years. My aim though was to write about the truth, in that I mean companies, people and solutions that really can do service to humanity in areas of health, agriculture, energy, the environment. If I thought the company/service/NGO was bogus, I wouldn’t write about it.
But then, I wanted to see into the future and predict the next big thing: Water, agriculture, energy. That nexus is the one I bet on.
I followed the beck and call and started a startup in late 2014, thinking it’s a better risk during this than playing the lottery. Plus you know I wanted to change the world. I’d seen enough solutions to know that most of them were being produced to only make money.
Over that time ideas came and went, but we mainly stuck to our mission of being an IoT company that builds robotic brains for agriculture. At one point we pivoted to cannabis, then away, then to growing food in developing nations, then to home growers, then to hemp, then to Mars, then to regenerative agriculture. It was easy for my team to pivot because the main product stayed the same, just the marketing messaging changed. We did not succeed but I learned a lot.
Since Israelis do not really have the best handle on marketing anything (except maybe SodaStream and Waze), it’s easy to get a team of developers to follow.
Many people inside and outside claim that Israel is THE startup nation but after I spent half a year in the US and then a couple years working with American teams I can say this claim is false. America is the THE startup nation, the birth of capitalism, team building and product launching. Israel is Nimble Nation.
People in America work in teams that function, they go steady through the steps with a game plan. Ideas that are born here in Israel really only come to life in America or with Americans on the team.
When I was starting my career as a writer and journalist a friend about to get a job for Kasamba asked for a reference from me. She got the job and the idea was to be a service platform for experts. At the time the site was to be something great, giving online access to any professional from around the world. They wanted to tap into counselling and coaching, and therapy – true, bonafide professions. Back then it was already happening, she claimed and they didn’t want to admit but their revenues were mainly derived from fortune tellers, resembling corny sites that offer a free reading from Tarot card readers, psychics and the like. It’s a major industry in the United States.
But what I am saying is that the Israeli company was smart. So what if psychics suck? The team creators were nimble. Instead of pushing on and trying to educate and change the market, they just followed the market. And were bought by LivePerson in 2007. Kasamba was acquired for $40 million! Israelis in all areas of life are quick to change, flip and adapt. They work well with American funding and bigger visionaries because they offer decently build tech solutions at a fraction of the cost and are willing to work long hours, triple jobs at all costs. That’s why Israelis are good at startups. They like to dream big. But take an American team to bring the vision to reality.