Jumping into Israel’s Startup Culture: Yalla

I came to this country 4 weeks ago with 3 goals: to learn how to advocate for Israel, network my balls off, and stay hydrated. I’m now sitting at an Israeli startup accelerator in Jerusalem, contacting other Israeli startups to promote the launch of our new website and storytelling platform. If you would have told me this weeks ago, I’d call you crazy. Today, I merely say Yalla.

Yalla- a word known little around the world, yet a perfect description of the sought upon Israeli mental psyche. Translating literally to “let’s go”, the phrase represents an encapsulation of the innovative culture. A lifestyle to endorse or be crushed upon like waves of the Mediterranean.

In Israel, we make moves. I learned this on the first day of my trip from CEO and founder of BOMAH (The brand of milk and honey). With the attention of 22 enthusiastic college activists, Itzik Yarkoni entered the room at 2:30pm, opened his computer and said “Yalla”.

Within 5 minutes, he illustrated himself, his goals, his company, and his purpose on our program. Over the next 20 minutes Itzik presented his method for using social media to effectively illustrate one’s narrative, meticulously construct one’s appearance to the public, and understand the evolving art of storytelling. He provided a visual template for easily implementing these methods, and gave us 5 minutes to create an effective post. 4 minutes later, Facebook received 21 new posts from the fellows on my program. And then the clock struck 3:00. Yalla.

In that moment I didn’t want to post; I wanted to talk to Itzik. I got up from my chair, walked down to introduce myself and said “Hi, I’m Ryan and I’d like to work with you”. He smiled and gave me the time of day.

Israeli companies don’t just work quickly, they work efficiently. With the innovative questioning skills of Silicon Valley, and the fast pace tempo of Wall Street, the Israeli start up culture is one to be mimicked around the world. With a fully-hydrated thirst for more, I cannot wait to prove myself in this wonderful environment. Yalla.

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