(photo credit: PR)
Dozens of professionals from the hi-tech industry together with venture-capital managers convened in Jerusalem Tuesday night to assess a range of startup companies that have been initiated by haredi developers.
The event was held at the Jerusalem College for Technology as part of the startup incubator project initiated by the institution for haredi startup enterprises. It was attended by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, himself a former entrepreneur from the hi-tech sector.
Twelve different initiatives were presented during the evening, including a unique smartphone and tablet application for personal banking and financial management; an innovative development in the field of solar electricity generation; and database management solutions, among others.
The event was part of “Demo Day” of the Yazam Ba’lev incubator for haredi startups of the JCT, together with venture capitalist Ben Wiener, which is designed specifically for developers from the haredi community.
The project includes a preparatory course that all participants, the majority of whom are full-time yeshiva students, had to complete and which was designed to provide them with the relevant tools and skills for developing a hi-tech product or service.
During the three-month course, the developers – including one rabbinic judge who serves on a haredi rabbinical court as well as a Breslov hassid who edits religious texts – were mentored and advised by businessmen and entrepreneurs from the hi-tech sector.
“Seeing young entrepreneurs gives me a strong sense of deja vu how we had to struggle so hard at the beginning but gradually began to learn how to get these things done,” Barkat said regarding his own experience in the world of hi-tech business development.
“Seventeen percent of startups in Israel are based in Jerusalem, and I hope that we will do everything possible to attract as vigorously as possible any project and venture that wants to take off in this city,” he said.
Turning to the haredi entrepreneurs themselves, Barkat said: “Never give up. If it doesn’t work out at first, keep going forward because the more persistent and tenacious you are, the more the chances increase.”
Wiener, the director of the Jumpspeed Ventures startup advisory company, said the haredi developers had faced “complicated challenges” in advancing their ideas and ventures but had stood up to the challenges successfully.
“I have never met a group of people who are so thirsty for knowledge, and I am proud to be their partner and I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of this powerful experience,” he said.