Listen — The Startup Nation Knocks
In his famous essay, Listen - My Beloved Knocks, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik writes about the six "knocks" of redemption that were heard leading up to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. He viewed each knock as a sign that was not recognized by most until after the declaration of the State of Israel.
On Israel’s 69th Independence Day and in light of Israel’s emergence as the Startup Nation, I hear six new “knocks” that are signaling Israel’s continuing path towards a global innovation powerhouse.
1. Beyond startups: While Israel is called the Startup Nation by many, it has become so much more than a country full of startups. Israel is a global leader in water and agricultural technology, satellites, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, 3D printing, manufacturing, and even food flavorings and kitchen countertops.
2. Waze, Mobileye and Scaling Up - Waze made waves a few years ago when they were acquired by Google for a reported $1b, and the trend of major exits has continued with the recent acquisition of Mobileye by Intel for $15b. An exit that is valued at more than all exits from New York over the past 5 years combined. Israel is hitting it's stride with larger exits and more local companies that are choosing to scale up rather than sell early.
3. Not just TLV - Startup communities are developing all over the country. While Tel Aviv may have the the highest concentration of startups, Jerusalem and her ever growing startup scene, is home to the biggest IPOs and acquisitions in Israel (Mobileye & NDS). Beersheva continues to emerge as a hub for cyber and other tech; Rechovot leads in R&D, agriculture, and 3d printing; while Haifa and surrounding cities like Yokneam are bases of innovation in the North.
4. Global acceptance - Walk down Rothschild Boulevard (where many startups and investors are concentrated in Tel Aviv) on a given day, and you will come across countless visiting delegations from all over the world. Government and military officials, business people, investors and students of all nationalities and religions coming to learn from Israel's successes. Around the world people forget about the conflict and politics in the Middle East, and recognize Israel as the leader in innovation and new technologies that she is.
5. Opportunities for immigrants - Moving to Israel used to be an act of true self sacrifice. In the early days of the state, the economy was in shambles, we were constantly at war, it took years to get a telephone, and there were no stores in the country that sold Ziplok bags. At 69, Israel still has growing pains, but it is a country where motivated and talented immigrants from all over the world have amazing opportunities to leave their mark.
6. It's just getting started - In it's short history, Israel has gone through a lot, but this is just the beginning. As more immigrants bring their talents to Israel, and the world continues to look to Israel for innovation, the opportunities for this little country are endless. It's amazing what has been achieved in Israel’s first 69 years, and it is exciting to think what the future holds if we pay attention to these “knocks” and prepare for that future.