How Israeli start-ups can remain globally competitive

When I am asked why SnatchBot.me took off worldwide, the answer is that it was largely possible due to the incredible local support and innovation which my brother and I encountered here.

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June 2, 2019 09:58
4 minute read.
How Israeli start-ups can remain globally competitive

. (photo credit: SNATCHBOT)

 
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Over the past few years, many Israeli startups went truly global. We continue to see, for example, giant success stories such as Houzz.com, Flytrex, Fiverr.com and WeWork, all of whom dominate specific areas and many of which engage workforces in more than 40 countries. Some also relocated successfully to the US and raised substantial equity, many via IPO.

When I am asked why one of my own ventures, SnatchBot.me took off worldwide, the answer is that it was largely possible due to the incredible local support and innovation which my brother and I encountered here after moving to Aliya from France. Although we are grateful that my brother Henri Ben Ezra is credited as adding a seventh to one of six Israeli discoveries that influenced the world, today we look at how other countries are stepping up their game and realize that in the fast-moving industries related to high-tech, there is a need to remain competitive to retain global leadership.

Today, I want to share some ideas on how Israeli companies can continue to build a reputation of excellence, so that ultimately, not just each company, but the entire nation of Israel, can continue to benefit from the trust that other nations have vested in us.

Appreciate positive bias towards Israeli technology, but keep building the momentum:

The collective dedication and effort of the past few years are paying off for Israel. Despite what people may think, we actually experience a positive bias towards Israeli technology. Decision makers in most of the world, know that Israel can be counted on to deliver innovative solutions and high value. It is precisely at this point in our journey as a country that we need to remain competitive and responsible, as opposed to taking our reputation for granted. In other words, our goal has to be great than that of retaining an excellent reputation for innovation: we need to keep building on that.

Appreciate that sustainability is a new trend and global challenges will influence decisions:

There is a trend towards being green which stems from very real concerns for the environment and systemic pressures on resources. In our own neighbourhood, Israel helped Cyprus to switch over to the desalination of sea water in order to cope with increased demand and scarcity of fresh water. We have entrepreneurs from Israel who have been to many countries to collaborate with governments to install wind farms. Cloud-based services have potential to reduce the need for travel and can therefore contribute to sustainability. Our own communications company, for example, helps businesses and states reduce their carbon footprint simply by eliminating the need for hundreds of call agents to travel to work each day. Other examples are endless. The point is, that besides creating a business that is profitable, we have an opportunity today to create something special that is genuinely good for the environment and for the world.


Keep thinking: How should the world be?

One of my favourite personalities is Reid Hoffman, who discussed his journey through entrepreneurship and background in philosophy. The notion raised by him is basically that you start by asking the very simple questions: how is the world today? And how should it be?  Such a philosophical view, backed by a strong network of technology professionals capable of bringing new ideas to life, provides a credible path forward. If you look at most successful global startups from Israel, they did just that. I remember how it felt when we were able to reduce credit card fraud for call centers by having bots that process payments: it rooted out crime mafias in various industries and gave the consumer more trust. We automated one of the most unpleasant tasks for companies, which added to our global appeal. Considering this, I will always say the following to any startup: challenge conventional issues that cause problems by delivering an innovative solution that makes the world a better place: it works!

Embrace diversity and show leadership in doing so:

Parts of our world remain highly fragmented. In Israel, we value diversity which is quite evident at every level. Some of the most successful companies in the world succeeded because they enable people from all walks of life – and business – to belong to a global community. Call it multi-lingual, multi-channel, multi-cultural, or simply a global standard that is inclusive towards all: these are the foundations of most platform-based businesses that have taken the world by storm. The policies that power companies that became global leaders are not ethnocentric, but are typically derived from inclusive participation with diverse stakeholders. Platforms that provide people with an experience that is above average and a true feeling of membership of a global community are proven to come out on top.

Conclusion:

It has long been accepted that Israel will not be a country that competes on price when it gets to human capital, but rather on the exponential value we can deliver through innovation. For entrepreneurs, the focus should be beyond being competitive: it is about demonstrating real leadership in the world. People who deliver ideas that make the world a better place, learn quickly from mistakes and are willing to adapt to global needs in a thoughtful way, have a bright future ahead of them.

The article was written in cooperation with Avi Ben Ezra.

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