Nefesh B’Nefesh helps olim navigate the tech ecosystem of Start-up Nation

Tech Talks program focuses on innovation and employment opportunities.

December 14, 2016 00:11
3 minute read.
NEFESH B’NEFESH Tech Talk participants pose at last night’s event in Tel Aviv. From left: Moe Mernic

NEFESH B’NEFESH Tech Talk participants pose at last night’s event in Tel Aviv. From left: Moe Mernick, Silvan Ya’ari, Ilan Regenbaum, Devorah Mason, and Michael Eisenberg.. (photo credit: YONIT SCHILLER)

More than 300 olim attended Nefesh B’Nefesh’s first installment in a planned series of social networking events centered on the local hi-tech sector. “Tech Talks: Innovation in the Start-up Nation” was conducted on Monday at Tel Aviv’s Mindspace communal workspace complex ‘Rise TLV,’ organized in partnership with the Tel Aviv-Yafo Department for Immigration Absorption.

The 200 olim were eager to learn about employment opportunities in the start-up nation, to hear first-hand tips on how to make it in the innovation ecosystem, and just rub shoulders with potential employers and useful contacts.

“We want to show two things in this event: One is how olim have an impact on the tech scene, and two, show the incredible Israeli tech world to olim,” Nefesh B’Nefesh executive vice president Zev Gershinsky told The Jerusalem Post. “This is our way to introduce tech to olim and introduce olim to tech.”

The Tech-Talks format centered on conversations and presentations by leading and emerging individuals in the Israeli hi-tech ecosystem who made aliya either through Nefesh B’Nefesh or before.

After an hour-long mingling session between recent and established olim, the event began with a fireside chat between Michael Eisenberg, equal partner at the Aleph Venture Capital fund, and Ilan Regenbaum, a lone soldier currently serving as the head of business development in the Israel Air Force’s innovation department, who is also involved in the early-stage investment fund, the Elevator Fund.

The two olim, a generation apart, shared their aliya experiences with the audience and dispensed tips on entering and navigating the ecosystem. This was followed by presentations from Sivan Ya’ari, founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, Devorah Mason, COO and CFO of Voiceitt, and Moe Mernick, who runs business development at Hometalk and mentors young entrepreneurs in Israel.

“In the last two years, Nefesh B’Nefesh really changed its focus. In doing talks and events like this, they realized how to adjust what they do for olim. I would recommend for other olim to utilize Nefesh B’Nefesh if they are interested in the tech-world and the start-up nation,” Regenbaum told the Post.

Daniel, a new immigrant from London who now works for PayPal Israel’s risk division and does fraud detection, agreed.

“I made aliya almost a year and a half ago without a concrete plan. I started an internship at the Israel Aerospace Industries based on my engineering background, but then somehow I switched careers and entered the hi-tech sector with the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh. They were instrumental to the job seeking and finding process and also put me in contact with people who understand the industry,” Daniel told the Post.

According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, Tech Talks is an example of the organization’s expansion in post-aliya services and programs, geared to help new immigrants acclimate, integrate and thrive in Israel.

“Throughout the 15 years of Nefesh B’Nefesh, we have mastered the technical process of making aliya. But we also want to provide a network and a support system to new olim. We are opening a Tel Aviv office in January that will also contain a hub for olim companies. We have an employment department that is devoted to match people with all these companies, more than 2,500 companies, most of them are hi-tech companies,” Gershinsky explained.

Although Nefesh B’Nefesh is an organization that aids aliya exclusively from the United States and Canada, Tech Talks also drew a considerable amount of olim from former Soviet Union countries, France and even Germany.

According to Nefesh B’Nefesh, all individuals who already made aliya are welcome to use their post-aliya services regardless of where they came from.

“While our organization’s mandate is to bring up the numbers of olim from North America, we will not turn down any new olim from our post-aliya aid and services. We have more jobs than olim in our databases. And whoever can benefit from stuff that we do, especially if they are new olim, we will help them out,” Gershinsky said.

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