The honor and privilege to have served in Israel’s startup and innovation ecosystem.
In a few hours, I will be boarding a flight from Tel Aviv to San Antonio.
This will conclude a sixteen month engagement, serving at the Brand Ambassador to Israel for the Rackspace Startups program.
I am not “leaving” Israel; I’m just taking a break.
It’s my intent to return in May, right after Passover.
Having traveled back and forth for 23 years, and having made 53 trips, there is a big difference in staying here for two weeks at time vs. an extended period of time.
Way back when I started this adventure, I was part of the second wave of the start-up ecosystem which built the foundation and plumbing for what become the Internet as we know it today.
I got to work with the teams that gave birth to the commercialization of VoIP, WiFi, IPTV, rapid prototyping (now called 3D printing), enterprise security, the tablet PC, and many other foundational platforms and standards that are now mainstream, and used by billions of people around the world.
Over the last sixteen months, I have worked at, visited, mentored, given talks and went to events at just about every accelerator / startup program / co-working space / conference / meetup in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth and Be’er Sheva. My travels also took me to startups communities in Prague, Athens, Patras, and Berlin.
There were somewhere around 1,000 teams I met with, listened to, and in some cases, they became Rackspace customers who moved to our startup program.
My mission was to #BeHelpful, and you did not have to be a Rackspace customer for me to help the company.
In many cases, I advised companies against moving to Rackspace because they had credits with another provider.
This experience was both an honor to serve, and a privilege to take part in many of the behind the scenes of living and working where history was literally born, and continues to be made.
I had a birds-eye view of the entire ecosystem from seeing the rise of Techstars, 500 Startups, and MassChallenge, to every various vertically-focused programs in education, urban living, agriculture, medicine, food, transportation, and tourism. There were the workspaces in magical places like Gush Etzion, Bet Shemesh, and Modi’in and specific programs for Israeli Arabs and the Haradim (religious).
Most recently, I visited a program for Ethiopians who are building their lives here, getting technical training and becoming part of the startup ecosystem.
For the purpose of this story, I did not mention names of people, or link to any of the programs.
It was with intent.
It was not one person or single program.
It was the critical mass, the geographic contiguity of having so many programs, and opportunities in such concentrated place that made this journey possible.
I am honored and privileged to cross paths with people from all over the world who make this magical place their home.
Being here is very purposeful, and those who live and make this place their home are actually setting an example for the rest of the world.
This is what makes Israel the API of humanity.
Rackspace art by Gapingvoid.