Saturday, November 7, 2009
How does Israel innovate? How does Israel produce more start-ups that make it to the NASDAQ than whole of Europe? How does Israel use the technology (i.e. electronics) start-up model in agriculture, bio-tech and now clean-tech? These are questions people have been asking for as long as there has been Israel. Israelis first built guns, cannons and avionics when no one would sell them arms to defend themselves (in the 1940s.) Than came a period of building the state itself and Israel built housing, factories, roads and public buildings (in the 1950s and 60s.) If you look carefully from the air you see the famous green line, an outline of the state in green where Israelis planted trees and literally changed the landscape (and the environment - that took more than 50 years.) Now Israelis build and design Integrated Circuits for Intel and cell phones for Motorola. But more than that, Israelis build companies. Not just products and inventions. Organizations to create and compete in the world technology, bio-medical and other fields. This phenomenon is discussed in Start-Up Nation. From an Israeli perspective it seems like an old story, start-ups go back 30 plus years. Here we have lived the gradual change and every week see a new product or announcement or a company acquisition. But in reality it is a big deal. Building a company is hard enough, building a whole economy and culture to drive company building is phenomenal.
There have been lots of articles about Israel's entrepreneurial spirit. There are also lots of reasons how each company or inventor got his start. But as a whole, this is the first in-depth treatment of Israel as a country of company creation. Clearly the way things work in Israel is different than in other countries. What is clear from the book is the way the authors focused on a few "reasons" or "obvious differences" which outsiders first see in Israel. The military gets a chapter and mentioned in a few other places. Israel's military plays a big role in developing group working ethics. Israel's isolation from Arab neighboring states also plays a big part, we have to do it on our own, so we try and eventually get it done. Diversity and continuous immigration plays a big part as well. A million Russian Jews came in the 1990s and in the late 1990's and early 2000s Ethiopian Jews came and settled. In Israel cultural background, skin color and language differences are not a barrier for collaboration in work and at home. Israel also exports much of it's products. This has been the case even before the state was founded even when economic difficulties hit hard. There are plenty of good observations in Start-Up Nation. Some interesting enough even for Israelis. So get the book, use the knowledge and get your own start-up going (or just join one.) One reviewer goes as far as advising start-up CEOs to use the book as a manual for success. In my opinion, this is more of a "how Israel did it" ~ as they say in car commercials: "your millage may vary".
Links :Video interview from CNBC:
Book's official site:
Barns & Noble page: