Balance. This is the word that comes to mind when I think about the past couple of days in Israel. (Trust me, it’s not the word I thought I would use either.) Let me clarify – maybe it should more along the lines of “finding balance.” Coming in already, we were warned that things would be a bit extreme with Israel – passport control and security would be more intense with the default being that they won’t stamp your passport since many countries won’t let you enter if you have an Israel stamp. But as we started visiting companies, I realized “extreme” could be applied to some of their businesses here as well.
The first company we visited was Ravello Systems with founder Benny Schnaider. He talked about how Israel is a start-up nation (not a new concept considering we were given a book with the same title), however, he also discussed how optimism is of the essence if you want to be an entrepreneur. If you’re not optimistic, you won’t survive. Will Smith has a similar quote where he said,
“There’s a certain delusional quality that all successful people have to have. You have to believe that something different than what has happened for the past 50 million years can happen. Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.”
While being a start-up nation is fine, it was clear with our visit with WeWork and then a panel with venture capitalists that being a nation of only startups is a problem though. The Israeli tech sector is now trying to move towards a more stable and diverse economy of yes, startups, but also medium and large tech companies. Only having companies exit at the ten to hundreds of millions level is limiting the Israeli economy considering how much more dominant Silicon Valley still is. It brings about concepts learned in classes such as Advanced Organizational Change where doing something in a 75 people company seems easy, but bringing about the same change in a tens of thousands of people size corporations is much harder. It will be interesting to see if Israel is able to not just come up with innovative new companies, but actually maintain, run, and manage these companies.
That’s all for now! Read along next time as I talk about finding balance between pleasure and pain.
-Teresa Lee ’16, Israel Chazen Group B