A tiny nation of 8 million people is one of the leading startup hubs in the world. Here’s why Israel produces so many top entrepreneurs.

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Israel is among the world’s 50 smallest countries with a population of just eight million people, but has produced some outsized tech hits such as mapping firm Waze, freelance platform Fiverr, and insurance startup Lemonade.
The country has been beset by political difficulties since its founding but has emerged to be one of the strongest economies in the region, thanks to a strong education system, can-do attitude, and scores of ambitious founders.
Business Insider spoke to four tech entrepreneurs from Israel to find out how the country has consistently punched above its weight.
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“In many ways the entire country is like a startup which should fail but instead its become one of the richest nations in the world. It was an impossible dream that succeeded.”

That’s a view of Israel from Arik Shtilman, founder and CEO of fintech startup Rapyd (valued at around $1 billion, per Pitchbook).

He says the country’s many entrepreneurs are formed by the same mentality which successfully carved out this sometimes contentious part of the Middle East in the 20th century.

Israel is a factory for successful entrepreneurs, and, WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann aside, most make the news for positive reasons.

It’s estimated that Israel produces 1,400 startups each year from a population of about 8.5 million, according to Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, a government agency.

And according to Tech Aviv, a network for Israeli entrepreneurs, the country currently has 25 unicorns. That’s including startups that were founded by Israelis but are headquartered elsewhere, such as WeWork.

Tel Aviv alone has the most startups per capita outside of Silicon Valley, according to a report from Startup Genome.

As of August 30 this year, almost $2.3 billion had been invested across 153 deals for Israeli startups, according to PitchBook.

In other words, this comparatively tiny nation produces some outsized tech successes. Notable Israeli startups include ride-sharing app Via, messaging app Viber, Google-owned mapping app Waze, and another ride hailer, Gett. Israeli freelance platform Fiverr went public in June 2019, and software platform Monday.com became a newly minted unicorn this year.

Why is the country such a relentless innovation hub?

Business Insider spoke to four repeat entrepreneurs and an Israeli investor to better understand the forces that drive the country’s business leaders.

1. Israel’s army, the IDF

Perhaps unsurprisingly, conscription into the army of the region’s only democracy is a tough learning curve. Israelis are expected to undertake two years in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at aged 18 and this experience is cited as a game changer in terms of mentality for its citizens.

“It’s a life-changing experience,” Rapyd’s Arik Shtilman said. “You learn two things, first that everything is possible and secondly that there is only I can’t do it or I don’t want to do it. This informs the Israeli mentality generally, nothing is impossible for you.”

This view is echoed by Shachar Bielick, CEO and founder of London financial startup Curve, which is valued at $250 million …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Finance


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