About a week ago, I’ve learned from Innovation Guru, Gijs Van Wulfen, about Compass. This organization develops a ranking of the global startup ecosystems. Looking at this ranking I’ve noticed that Tel Aviv, Israel is the first hub outside of the US on the list (at 5th place). To learn more about this phenomenon, I decided to read the book Start-Up Nation, that explains the reasons behind the country’s success in Start-Ups in particular and technology in general.
General Impression from the Book
The authors Dan Senior and Saul Singer, an Israeli who lives abroad and an American who lives in IsraelI, wrote this book in a way that appeals to anyone who is interested in Technology and Innovation and did not assume that the reader will have any need for prior knowledge regarding the country or the area.
In addition, due to the caliber of the companies that have a presence in the are and the numerous success stories that came out of it, the authors had the opportunity to interview a wide range of top executives from top companies and Start-Ups (Google, ICQ, AOL, IBM, etc). These, assisted in emphasizing the success of this hub.
Also, they managed to interview the policy makers and politician that have taken the decisions that drove the country to success. These, interviews are fascinating in terms of the Macro-Economic decisions involved in taking a new country to economic success.
Structure and Main Points
The Book is divided to four chapters in which the authors describe the reasons for success, in addition to comparisons to other countries in the area and why they have not achieved similar results. Then, at the end of the book, the authors describe the possible threats that they believe can risk the future of the Stat-Up nation.
Main Lessons Learned from the Book
Since I really enjoyed reading this book and truly believe that there are some best practices to be learned out of it I would like to point out the main points and conclusions that I’ve had through my reading:
1. A non-hierarchical society and culture assist greatly to innovation since individuals regardless of their position in the organization continue to question the status quo. In Israel, this is very common due to the military training and the reserves’ service. Hence, organizations that manage to create order while maintaining the flow of ideas enjoy from a huge amount of new ideas and possible innovations.
2. Cross pollination and collaborations among different knowledge bases are key for innovation. In Israel, every individual is obliged to serve in the military for between two years (women) to three years (men). due to the many unique fields and the high emphasis on technology in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), many individuals are exposed to a wide range of fields that may assist them in the future. A great example is on the PillCam, a camera that was developed by Given Imaging that is inserted into the body via a pill, that was developed by a rocket scientist, who transitioned into medical devices and applied the rocket camera into the pill.
3. The importance of policy and government for a high tech boom. In the book, there is a detailed explanation of how the Israeli government and policy makers worked step by step in order to attract FDIs (Foreign Direct Investments) and what were the steps they made in order to create a local Venture Capital community. Later on, the book elaborates on the the hue impact of this community on the industry as a whole.
4. The contribution of immigration to innovation. In the book, there are several stories that exemplify how the Soviet Union immigrants who moved to Israel during the 90’s had a clear impact on the industry’s success. The explanation that the book provides is that beyond the actual technical knowledge, they brought a new way of thinking that cultivated innovation and entrepreneurship even further.
5. A clear motive. One of the strongest points for my opinion in the book, deals with the strong impact of a community that has a joint motive and mission and how that affects the ability to innovate. In the Israeli case, this deals with the country’s past and political situation.
altogether, I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend anyone who is interested in innovation and entrepreneurship to read it because I think that there are some meaningful lessons that we can take out of it. Furthermore, the authors managed to compare the Israeli successful case to others and by doing so they managed to point on some of the possible pitfalls that can be avoided.
The compass recent research, that was written four years after the book was published, and the many recent investments in Israeli companies (as can be seen in the infographic below) exemplifies even further how the Start-Up nation continue to live strong.
Obviously, understanding the industry and population in which the venture operates and how it should be diffused within it are critical. However, this book and its exampled have shown how belonging to a hub that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship can be equally important for success.
Did you like this post? Please subscribe to my blog and share it with your friends!!