How often do you find yourself standing on a land of conflict, yet feeling stunned by its achievement in technology and business?
In Spring 2017, the ESADE MBA Entrepreneurship Club organized a trek to Tel Aviv. The preparation took 3-4 months, and was mainly driven by club VP Arthur Felizzola from Brazil. We were able to meet up with a high-growth startup, a local entrepreneur, and a venture capital firm to gain great insights on the startup ecosystem in Tel Aviv.
On the day of departure, we all had to go through thorough questioning and bag-searching in the Barcelona airport; those served as an introductory lesson to the situation of Israel. The direct flight was about four hours; transfer flights took about twice as long.
The humid air in the Tel Aviv airport wiped our travel stress away. The tender silhouette of the mountains under the night sky and the Hebrew neon lights on the city buildings were such clear proof that we were standing on the lands of Israel. Standing in the center of Tel Aviv city, we could already see that country is a mix of modern and ancient times, embracing global culture in its rich traditions. Israel is most often seen in the news for conflict, which hosts three religions and is painted with a complicated history of command and conquer. Yet we are here, in the first place, for the strong business spirit, for the world-leading technology, and of course, also for the amazing cultural experience. The 4-day trek was a non-stop action that tested how much sleep we could get by with.
On the first day, we visited Yotpo. Yotpo is a relatively late-stage startup, having had its Series C in 2016. Yotpo’s product is a service to boost customer reviews for ecommerce. We received a business case from Mr Ido Segev to see how the company can better serve its small business customers, while Yotpo grows big and focuses more on large enterprises. The next startup we met was Segoma. Segoma’s co-founder Mr Litan Yahav is an alumnus of Zell. He ran into the diamond dealing business and decided to create a photography solution to reduce the human moves from dealer to dealer. The solution was spotted by one of the largest e-commerce websites for diamonds https://www.jamesallen.com/ and Segoma became its subsidiary company. The investor has helped Segoma’s growth and development, opening sites in major diamond dealing countries and moving forward steadily. Now Segoma is at the point to develop its second-generation equipment. The final company we visited was Marker LLC, a New York based Venture Capital firm. We received cases from Partner Ms Liat Aaronson to explore Marker’s current investment deals and report our results and insights.
In between our absorption of the technology and business knowledge nutrition, we were also truly impressed by the culinary culture of Israel. The highlight was an EatWith experience at a local home for a traditional Shabbat experience; we also had our chances to taste some hidden pearls: different kinds of street foods. We were the most amazed by the quality of fruit. During our trip, we learned that agriculture technology in Israel is also cutting edge – the efficiency and precision are top class of the world.
Our cultural immersion included local guides, a tour of Jerusalem, and breakfast served by a local farmer near a temple overlooking the city. We also had the opportunity to listen to interesting views of the strategic decisions of the country and geopolitics in the region. We met up with local MBA network on the last day, and got to know how previous ESADE students found themselves in Tel Aviv.
Despite the fatigue, we still took our time to visit Jaffa old town. The bay tenderly embraces the waves, the beach is washed into the shape of a new moon. Looking out from the Wishing Bridge to the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, history is on the left, and present is on the right.
The ESADE MBA Entrepreneurship Club would like to express our deepest appreciation and gratefulness for the opportunity to visit the local companies in Israel and learn from their experiences.