An Entrepreneurial Pilgrimage to Israel- Part 1

Guest Post by Avinash Tumkur

5th May 2014. It was not just another Monday morning. It was today that along with 24 other selected undergraduate and graduate level students & icreate incubatees, I was headed to Israel. icreate & Technion had jointly organized a customized 2 Week e.Xplore program- a program designed to expose young students of India to the vibrant hi-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem of Israel and also to inspire the Indian youth to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career option.

Just Landed

Just Landed

The one thing that immediately strikes you about Israel is that it is a REAL country. It is not unabashed development that comes with a lot of money. There is history, there is charm, there is a story and ofcourse there is convenience. Is it Westernized? Yes, absolutely. It boasts of all the facilities a western country has, but unlike most Western communities there is a closeness to the people and attachment. Is it war-torn where normal life is disturbed? Not even close, it’s a country fully-functional and having a life. Are the people rude? Yes, but not in the bad sense, they are open and expect openness in return. Does it live upto the hype of the Startup nation? YES. YES. YES. YES

Flags of our Fathers. Independence Day fervor at our hotel in Haifa

Flags of our Fathers. Independence Day fervor at our hotel in Haifa

We landed at Haifa on Israeli Independence day. Everyone Israeli was in their elements, proudly showcasing the national emblems and partying in the public places. Gardens were filled with children playing and the adults looked on with beer and music. We met Dr. Harry Yuklea, Entrepreneurship Academic and Practitioner and also among the many hats he wears is the Research Associate Professor at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. He took us through the entire program and the things to expect in the coming weeks.

With Harry. Unlearning. Learning.

With Harry. Unlearning. Learning.

Over the days that followed we went through different classroom sessions that gave us an overview of entrepreneurial finance, technology innovation, project management etc. But mind you, NONE of these session ended with just lectures, we had workshops, activities that involved getting onto the field for practical’s and surprise, surprise a robotics class that linked up with entrepreneurship!

The innovation lab, Technion, Haifa. EPIC.

The innovation lab, Technion, Haifa. EPIC.

We also had a series of interactions with entrepreneurs, bureaucrats, researchers, specialists, professors. One of the first interactions was with the team of Given Imaging. Not only did we get a guided tour of the manufacturing unit, we got a first-hand account of the journey of one of Israel’s biggest medical success. From experts on crowd funding, bureaucrats who spoke about strategic partnership and enabling entrepreneurial policies to startup meetups in bars, we had many unique experiences.

Conversations over coffee? Bah ! Do it the Israeli way. A startup meet at a local bar.

Conversations over coffee? Bah ! Do it the Israeli way. A startup meet at a local bar.

A visit to Mellanox Technologies, Yokleam gave us an opportunity to Mr Michael Kagar, Chief Technical Officer, Mellanox. After looking at the impressive disruption that Mellanox brought in, Michael went into the future of data technology and the impact of cloud.

At Mellanox.

At Mellanox.

At Tel-Aviv, we landed on a day that hosted the meetup on wearable tech.With Steve Mann opening the meetup, followed by Robert Scoble,  the event was attended by ten year olds and interestingly a 14-year boy who sold his startup to Google for four million. Whew. Israelis DO start young.

Hallowed ground. The 'google hangout' spot for entrepreneurs at Tel Aviv

Hallowed ground. The ‘google hangout’ spot for entrepreneurs at Tel Aviv

Talking with Mr. Jerry Sanders gave us a very entrepreneurial insight into the new technology, the challenges, selling proposition, positioning and future of a technology that will disrupt how we travel.

Futuristic. SkyTran :)

Futuristic. SkyTran 🙂

Among the many women entrepreneurs we meet, Ms, Yael, CreatenStar with a true-blue Israeli attitude of persistence left a mark with us. From a prestigious positions in the military, to a wonderful career in image processing and finally branching out on her own, hers was an inspiring story.

Hell, yes !

Hell, yes !

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