Usually, when we hear stories about immigrant entrepreneurs that have made it big, we think about foreigners who made their way to the United States of America. We think about their broken English or foreign accents and the obstacles they had to overcome in order to climb the ranks of corporate America. Yoel Israel, a well-known Tech entrepreneur’s story, is a bit different.
A Zionist Entrepreneur is Born
Yoel Israel grew up in Philadelphia in a traditional Jewish home.
One of his life dreams was to make aliyah and build a house and a family in Israel. When reflecting on his future as a bar mitzvah, Yoel promised that he would work aggressively towards his goals when the time was right.
“I remember when I was a bar-mitzvah and ‘became a man,’ I started to make serious life goals that I would work towards. In addition to getting married young (Yoel married later than he hoped, but still relatively young at 24), one of my main goals was to move to Israel and build a home. When I settled in Pardes Chana about nine years ago, I knew exactly which neighborhood in Pardes Chana I wanted to live in. The thought of building a house was intimidating, and I was looking for a home to buy, renovate or expand. One morning on an early morning walk looking at houses and putting leaflets in mailboxes of homes I wanted to make an offer for; I found a plot of land for sale on my dream street in Pardes Chana. I ended up in a bidding war and had to leap over other offers and provide 10,000 NIS over the asking price to beat out the other bidders. I won the bid and started to build my dream home, and with a 3 room fully equipped office.”
Promises, Determination, and Cash Flow
Fast forward to 2010, Yoel was returning from his International MBA at Bar-Ilan University to his hometown of Philly to get married, then to make aliyah immediately after, and fulfill his life’s dream. But like most Olim, his dream had many obstacles. Yoel and his wife Dara landed in Nachalot, Jerusalem. Yoel was looking for work in finance, but the few opportunities paid minimum wage and were over a two-hour commute door-to-door commute.
“We were living next door to my mother-in-law in Nachalot. And moving out of Jerusalem was not an option as a newlywed living next door to my mother-in-law. I couldn’t find any job openings in finance that didn’t take me two hours to get to, I did not have a car, and the new Jerusalem train was not yet operating. Israel’s finance industry was and still is very underdeveloped, and compensation significantly trailed American opportunities in finance.”
After the Israels discovered they were pregnant with their first and struggling to get a job, they moved back to Philly. Yoel has promised himself and everyone around him that he will be back in Israel within three years. Yoel changed all his login passwords related to aliyah, and his move-back date, so he will stay on track and work toward his goals.
After a couple of successful cash-flow residential real estate investments in Philly real estate, Yoel and Dara and their then 2-year-old daughter Yemima moved back to Israel straight to Pardes Chana, where they have been residing for over eight years.
Marketing & Cybersecurity Ventures
Yoel started to build his own business, WadiDigital.com, and started to provide marketing solutions to the leading Israeli tech companies. WadiDigital has since grown to a team of 22 full-time employees in Israel. Yoel’s agency is unique that he brings the American customer service and long-term thinking and strategy to B2B technology marketing; this led to tremendous growth in helping Israeli tech companies and unicorns. In parallel, Yoel built his new startup Cyfluencer.com, a cybersecurity influencer platform. In interviews for leading publications like Entrepreneur, Forbes, AMI Magazine, and Newsbreak, it is widely apparent that Yoel has utilized his passionate personality, as well as strong work ethic, to consistently innovate the industries he is involved in.
In addition to leading WadiDigital and Cyfluencer, Yoel has started a YouTube channel called “Israel Unfiltered” a nice play with words, where he talks about and with unique personalities in Israel and what is going on in Israel from an American Zionist perspective. The show has been gaining major traction on social media platforms like Youtube and Twitter, while actively providing in-depth analysis of current events and what they mean for the people of Israel.
“It was evident to me that there was a missing voice about Israel. Most Zionist news and YouTube channels have a strong religious, foreign policy, or political angle. I was passionate about helping talk about the Israeli challenges that everyday Israelis are living through and highlighting what is going on in Israel on the ground. I started just making videos with my opinions on solutions to help Israel become freer and more prosperous. Within this mission, I have interviewed many fascinating Israeli and Zionist personalities that will never be highlighted in the news but are making a real difference in Israeli culture and are leaders in their niche. Having conversations with unique personalities about Israel is a lot of fun and is my creative outlet and hobby outside of work. My goal is to interview other great personalities, and people with unique perspectives, to the general public and make a lasting impact for Israel through fun and entertaining dialogue.”
Independent Creators Are On The Rise
Similar to Yoel Israel, we are seeing significant growth in the entertainment industry led by independent content creators. With today’s abundance of tech capabilities and platforms, independent creators are attracting a passionate niche and subject-driven audience to their channels. Yoel, for example, has been able to deliver his thoughts to thousands of people on Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, as well as on supporting platforms like Quora.
“People no longer trust the established institutions and the corporate press like they once did. Now people trust personalities and individuals they know well. For example, your health, you may trust fitness experts you follow on Instagram; for news, people trust writers and deep thinkers on Substack, podcasts, or Twitter. When you consume content creators regularly, you get to know them well and trust them in their expertise. More than large corporations or institutions that are slow to adapt to new information, and their opinions and advice are ‘one-size-fits-all.’ The future of media and knowledge no longer sits with CNN or the government; rather, it is decentralized with strong time-tested personalities, such as Elon Musk or Joe Rogan. I inspire to be the source for people to trust for technology marketing or to explain to Anglos what is going on in Israel on the ground. But first, I need to build a deeper relationship and more trust with my audience. That takes time, honesty, and consistency.”