Israelis who are thinking of opening their own tech start-up are cordially invited for a drink at a nearby tavern, where, thanks to Tel Aviv University, they will be able to meet top tech figures like Waze founder Uri Levine, investor angel Yehuda Doron, entrepreneur Gil Rotem, venture capital partner Yinon Aksel, and many others. Designed for the young and young-at-heart, prospective entrepreneurs can have an opportunity to meet, quiz, and perhaps even develop a longer-term relationship with individuals who have been down the road they are embarking on, and are likely to have the answers to the questions that dog them.
The “Entrepreneurship at the Bar” event will take place this week at dozens of locations in the city, as part of the worldwide Global Entrepreneurship Week project, a project sponsored by the entrepreneurship-minded Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to “foment a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.” Since its creation in 2008, more than 10 million people from over 100 countries have participated in entrepreneurial-related activities during the Week. GEW events in Israel and worldwide take place between November 15 and 22.
The Israeli events are coordinated by the MIT Enterprise Forum Israel and the Asper Center for Entrepreneurship. The MIT Forum, established by graduates of the venerable American institution, runs monthly programs to educate Israeli entrepreneurs, especially in high-tech, on the process of running, funding, and growing a business, said organization CEO Ayala Matalon. Speakers include top figures in Israeli high-tech; among those who have spoken at Forum meetings have been Yossi Vardi, Shai Agasi, Stef Wertheimer, and many others.
The Forum even had its moment in Israeli political history; it was where former Finance Minsiter Yair Lapid in February 2012 first discussed his political ambitions, emphasizing the need to help the middle-class and the tech community, and famously declaring that if he were to run for the Knesset and the party that he led would be taken into the subsequent coalition, the job he preferred was Education Minister. “Foreign Minister would be acceptable as well,” Lapid said. “But not Finance Minister.”
There will be numerous other events designed to help budding entrepreneurs get on their feet. The MIT Forum will hold the Israel finals for “Get in the Ring,” a worldwide start-up contest considered the “Olympics” of the start-up world. The winner gets to pitch his or her idea at the finals in Rotterdam next year, where they can win a prize package worth more than 25,000 euros, as well as meet top mentors and investors to help grow their company.
Another start-up conference, called GAFO – specializing in the Gaming, Affiliation and Forex industries – comes to Israel for its second year, as “entrepreneurs, experts, industry leaders, diplomats, investors, finance executives and affiliates will come together for two days abundant with investment opportunities, sales and networking,” said organizer Dana Eliyahu.
“What’s unique about this event is that we will also be including a special recruitment event for new immigrants to Israel,” said Eliyahu, whose Shine Conferences recently hosted a tech industry employment conference for immigrants that attracted some of the biggest names in Israeli tech, providing a forum where immigrants could directly interface with HR and tech department heads to explore job opportunities.
“With the charged atmosphere of GEW, we wanted to give an opportunity to new Israelis who don’t know the ins and outs of the industry here a way to familiarize themselves with Israeli high-tech and perhaps find employment in the industry,” Eliyahu said.
Those are just a few of what the Forum said would be hundreds of events around the country celebrating GEW. It’s worth coming out for, said GEW organizers: “Millions who had never before considered launching their own ventures soak up advice and inspiration,” according to the group, and “thousands of brand new startups spring to life through bootcamps” as a result of the competitions and networking events that characterize GEW. It’s more than just an awareness campaign, according to the group – “It’s a platform for connection and collaboration—engaging all players along the entrepreneurship spectrum in strengthening ecosystems around the world.”