There are many contests and competitions in Israel each year that seek the entrepreneur with the best idea, business, or skill set. But the winner of the Atlas Award – to be given out Tuesday in Tel Aviv by the Israeli chapter of the Ayn Rand Institute – will be able to lay claim to the title of “most entrepreneurial entrepreneur.”
The institute is named for Ayn Rand, the novelist and philosopher who rose to fame based on her promotion of the philosophy of Objectivism, which says each person is responsible for his own life and welfare and must not rely on the state or even other people to make his way through life.
Israeli entrepreneurs are usually not as self-sufficient as Rand’s ideal man or woman; the tech community has a reputation of helping out others, and Israelis tend to root for each other’s success. Nevertheless, believes Boaz Arad, chairman of the institute’s local branch, the independent tendencies many Israeli entrepreneurs display – thinking outside the box, not being afraid of failure, and a general willingness to upset the existing order of technology and business – should be rewarded.
“How can we encourage the values of independence that have enhanced Israel’s economy, thus creating more businesses and encouraging more entrepreneurship in more areas? This is the challenge we have taken upon ourselves, and to express this, we want to reward the entrepreneurs who have been helping the Israeli economy thrive.”
Rand, a Russian immigrant to the US who achieved fame in the 1940s and 50s (“The Fountainhead,” her most famous book, came out in 1941, and “Atlas Shrugged,” considered her most important work, was published in 1957), is considered one of the 200th century’s strongest advocates for entrepreneurship and opposition to big government. In her honor and as recognition of her promotion of the entrepreneurial spirit, Yaron Brook, an Israeli-born entrepreneur, writer, and media commentator (he is also a US citizen) started the California-based Ayn Rand Institute, which has chapters throughout the US, Europe, and in Israel.
Candidate companies for the award – which will include a handsome statue of the mythological Atlas holding the world designed by sculptor Richard Minns – include some of the biggest names in Israeli tech, including Outbrain, Kaminario, SimiliarWeb, Valens, Zerto, Gigya, Ctera Networks, Moovit, and Forter.
Judges include some of the most influential entrepreneurs and investors in the Israeli tech world, including Karin Mayer Rubinstein (director of IATI), Dr. Shlomo Kalish (chairman of Jerusalem Global Ventures), Gil Hirsch (director of Facebook Israel), and others. Speakers will include Nobel Prize winner Professor Dan Shechtman, Microsoft Israel R&D director Yoram Yaakovi, NFX Guild investment house chairman Gigi Levy – and Brook himself, who will talk a bit about his new book, “Equal is Unfair” (currently the number one bestseller in Amazon’s Government Management book category).
“The last two years have been exceptional ones for Israeli high-tech, with exits and deals worth billions breaking records,” said Israel Ayn Rand Institute director Arad. “But the entrepreneurship and leadership in technology is not always easy to understand and apply to other areas. The tech sector is thriving, but it would be good to help manufacturing and businesses in other sectors benefit from these trends as well.”