Afternoon Tea in Jerusalem Blog

In addition to my work as a business coach, one of my interests is blogging about life in Israel. This is a country full of contrasts – over eight million citizens living in an area the size of Wales. You can see snow and the lowest place on the globe in the same day. Although surrounded by geopolitical extremes, Israel has achieved a decade of high economic growth. My work brings me in contact with an array of new companies, exciting technologies and dynamic characters. Sitting back with a relaxing cup of strong tea (with milk), you realise just how much there is to appreciate in the Holyland. Large or small operations, private sector or non profit, my clients provide experiences from which others can learn and benefit.

I have two amazing conversations this week with overseas contacts. They are not connected commercially nor by country. Yet both carried the same message.

We need to link our set up to the world of Israeli entrepreneurship. This is what our clientele are asking from us.

And it is easy to see why. “After raising a record US$10 billion in 2020, Israeli tech startups have already raised US$2.5 billion in the first two months of 2021…….The figure may be more as some companies prefer to remain in stealth ……”

And if you believe this a one-off freak, just consider some of the news from the first 10 days of March:

  • PayPal Holdings Inc. has agreed to acquire Israeli digital assets security company Curv for around US$200 million.
  • Israeli payroll solutions company Papaya Global has announced a $100 Series C financing round at a company valuation of over $1 billion- ie, Unicorn status.
  • Wiz, Orca Security, and Axonius are planning to announce in the coming weeks that they have completed large funding rounds at valuations topping $1 billion each.

Regular reader will know that when it comes to economic planning, I believe that the government’s record over the past 24 months is nothing short of derisory. It is as if the domestic entrepreneurial community has created a virtual wall between itself and those who think they know better. Thanks goodness for that!

Why? How has this phenomenon arisen?

There is a well-known idiom in the Israeli start up culture which encourages you to start from the premise: Whatever you assume to be correct, test, challenge and assess from a new perspective.

Some argue that this concept emerges from the lessons of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, when the intelligence community’s assessments allowed the army to prepare inadequately. Others trace this psyche back to old-fashioned Jewish DNA called ‘chutzpah’ – just keep pushing the boundaries.

Take it as you wish. What is evident is that despite an economy looking to shake off the shackles of corona and despite the political instability expected to continue into the early summer, the thought of the “Israeli Start-Up Nation” is alive and thriving in 2021.

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