Start-up map makes Israeli tech easy to find

Internet entrepreneur Ben Lang took a day off from his IDF service and built a tool for entrepreneurs, investors, and job seekers

The Israel Start-up Map (Photo credit: courtesy)
The Israel Start-up Map (Photo credit: courtesy)

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but the Israeli Start-Up Map — a graphic illustration of where Israeli start-ups are located, who runs them, and what they do — is probably worth the several hundred thousands of words you would need to analyze the information this innovative project describes.

It can also be worth tens of thousands of shekels, because it links to the jobs pages of the start-ups listed, highlighting just how much opportunity there is not only for investors in these companies but also for the talent behind the products, applications, and services.

The map was the brainchild of Ben Lang, a young entrepreneur who made aliya with his family last year and is now serving in the IDF.“I built the map in one day when I was home from the army” using an online map tool, he told The Times of Israel.

The map of Israel includes the virtual pushpins familiar to users of Google Maps, and clicking on a pin brings up the name of the company, a description of what it does, and in most cases a link to its website.

On its first day, said Lang, nearly 300 companies had added their information to the map (companies were posted on the map after being approved by Lang), and he expects many more start-ups to add themselves in the coming days as word of the map spreads via social media. Lang said that he was inspired to create the map after seeing a similar one showing start-ups in New York City.

The map shows that the epicenter of the start-up nation is not in Herzliya Pituah, where the more established high-tech companies are located (and where the rents are probably too high for low-budget start-ups), but in south Tel Aviv, where about a third of the listed companies are located. That indicates that whatever policies the government has implemented to encourage high-tech start-ups to locate in the periphery needs some polishing, because there are precious few start-ups outside the center of the country. While demographics and data could change as more companies add themselves, chances are that updated versions of the map will hold to the same patterns since start-ups tend to cluster.

Most useful to many Israelis, potential immigrants and investors is the map’s “who’s hiring” feature, a page of links to company web pages that list available positions.

“Hopefully companies will be able to recruit more potential candidates,” Lang said.

The map simply aggregates the existing information on the site, but it may inspire more companies to list jobs online and link them to the map. Clearly there is a need for such a list, as some of the pages show that companies are willing to pay bonuses for leads that result in the hiring of qualified candidates. 

The map is also a forum for companies to announce themselves to investors.“This tool will be great for people visiting Israel who want to visit or meet startups,” Lang said. “I used it on my day off from the army when I was in Tel Aviv and met with two start-ups nearby.”

Mostly, though, Lang said he built the map to show off Israeli tech. “I want to show the world how advanced Israel is in technology. The story of Israeli tech success is not only great because it advances the Israeli economy, but because it helps the world, too.”

Lang, who while still in high school in New York created and developed no fewer than three start-ups, recently directed the Innovation Israel Hackathon, in which creative types gathered to come up with projects to spread the news of Israel’s high-tech prowess. The ideas that were generated at that event — including new projects likely to turn into start-ups now under development, and special events, like Hummus Day — are still making an impact months after the event.

Lang, who had been working at a start-up after graduating high school and moving to Israel, joined the IDF a couple of months ago, but even while he’s focused on basic training, he’s still thinking Israel innovation, Lang told The Times of Israel.

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