The Israeli innovation ecosystem is more and more surprising each day! Created only 25 years ago (around 1990), this alternative Silicon Valley offers some fascinating new technologies, contributing to improve our lives.
More than 5000 startups (some 3500 in high tech) are the base frame of this smart ecosystem:
What is the specific link between those components, the main key factor of success of the Start Up Nation? Anybody who has interacted with one of these players can easily feel the entrepreneurial Israeli state of mind flowing everywhere. Let’s try to understand where it comes from.
First of all, we have to remember that the DNA of Israeli people is made of “pioneer” spirit, each generation of immigrants having built a new life while arriving in the country (language, job, culture, environment…). They had to experiment quickly and smartly new ideas, new methods, new environments… Innovation was, and is still, a mandatory means to reinvent lives.
Also, children are educated to think freely. They’re empowered at a young age which makes them responsible, autonomous, creative and quick thinkers instead of being taught through discipline and tradition. Arguing and disagreement are welcome in Israeli culture. And there’s no fear of failure, which gives children the motivation to take risks.
The third main driver of this ‘combative’ mindset comes from 2 or 3 years of mandatory military service. Faced daily with tough problems, the young soldiers have a strong ability to imagine, create and find very practical solutions. The army also allows the young generation to get up close with technology, especially if they serve in Intelligence Units. They become experts in programming, big data and solving huge problems.
If you’d like to get more concrete, I think the best way to illustrate this entrepreneurial state of mind, is to meet Ben Lang, 21 today, but started his first business at age 14, selling people’s stuff for them on eBay.
Seemingly overnight, Ben has built one of the most ingenious and valuable resources, which maps the entire Israeli startup ecosystem. Mapped in Israel is a web and mobile platform that provides a crowdsourced map of Israeli hi-tech companies (see top picture). It’s become the largest open database of Israeli startups, a powerful job marketplace and a must have tool for investors and reporters.
Key players can add themselves to the map: startups, accelerators, VCs, co-working spaces, R&D centres and service providers. They post their location, description, funding status, website, job postings and more.
Browsing the map, you can discover the diversity of Israeli technologies in the following fields:
• Biotech / MedTech / CleanTech
• Consumer Web
• Semi-conductor / Hardware
• Web technologies
Even during his recently-finished military service, Ben and his team worked hard on improving the product and adding new, useful features.
Like every other Israeli startup always improving its R&D, Mapped In Israel has evolved to a self-service platform allowing any type of community to create its own crowdsourced map, called Mappedly.
For example, Inside3DP used Mappedly to create a map of the 3D Printing Community, and over 100 companies have added themselves to the map in the past week! Another example is a crowdsourced map of stores that accept Bitcoin in Israel. As you can imagine, there are endless types of maps that can be created, a map of the Yoga ecosystem in New York City, vegan restaurants in Dallas…
In summary, to better understand the Israeli entrepreneurial Spirit, you can just imagine the profile of startup founder:
Keep these features in mind, you’ll be surprised to find out how much realistic it is when you will meet one of them in the heart of the Start Up Nation…
Valerie Zarka is the founder & CEO of MORE THAN DIGITAL. After 14 years in digital agencies in France (B2L BBDO, Ogilvy One, Aegis Media…), she founded MORE THAN DIGITAL to assist companies’ digital innovation, connecting them to the Israeli high tech community through technological scouting, Innovation Trips in Israel and Israeli Innovation Days in Paris.