Two thousand years ago, Israel was a state of exiled people with a barren desert and in modern times it was a more desert. But they had to grow, otherwise, the land would become the hub of poor people – no discoveries, no innovation, no education, only an arid land. And the methods they choose to bring up their state was innovation through technology.
Now technology is the 95% secret of Israel’s agriculture productivity. They started small, so small that there were no hopes for a living. But today they are the startup nation with an 8.5 million population. It has the highest number of startups and around one startup they have 1,400 people. This success has caught my attention to dig the secrets behind their successful entrepreneurship. And I found these are the reasons how a relatively new country evolved themselves to a Startup Nation.
1. The Battlefield Entrepreneurs
In Israel, everyone over the age of 18 serves in the military where the military culture is taught to the citizens over a mandatory two to three-year of service.
Take this example of Farhi (a 30-year-old major in Israel Defense Force), who’s in charge of basic training for 650 soldiers, plus 120 officers, squad commanders and sergeant staff. Here, the company commanders are only twenty-three years of age and they are accountable for tremendous responsibilities of bombs, grenades, mines, machine guns, sergeants and one hundred soldiers. However, the company commander is the lowest rank in their military.
Where in the world, the 23 years old live with that kind of pressure?
The other key feature of their military training is they encourage arguments, conflicts and internal debate and disregard traditional hierarchies.
Now, I’ll tell you how this training is linked to entrepreneurship.
The military training rooted the discipline in the Israeli citizens. The tough training and struggles help in building a different perspective on life. So, at a younger age, their youth becomes mature and quite serious towards life as the military requires taking life and death decisions on the spot. You learn to train your mind and you know how to perform. And that’s what the business requires.
The military training helps them to prepare for the wars and for entrepreneurship. It’s the first secret how Israelis are taking up the intelligence to a whole new level.
Let’s move to second.
2. Train the Young Minds
“Go far, stay long, see deep” `Outside magazine
“The more you try to lock me in, the more I will show you how to get out.” The youth of Israel are trained with this mindset. They are treated as the golden assets of the nation. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD, 45% of Israelis are university-educated which is among the highest percentages in the world. And according to recent IMD World Competitiveness yearbook, Israel ranked second among the sixty developed nations meeting the criteria of their university education that also meets the need of competitive economy.
So, after the military training and the college training, the mental capabilities of every student evolved to a wide perspective. They become more mature, experienced and their minds become the centre of innovative ideas.
The Israeli Defence Force has a Talpiot unit where they take recruitment and training to the next level by coupling it with technological innovation. Instead of learning the lessons from the books they are given real-world problems to solve.
For example, one of the assignments can be to solve the severe back pain problem suffered by IDF helicopter pilots.
The graduates of the Talpion units, however, are less in number but the successful ones are the founders of the leading companies. NICE Systems and Compugen are also the outcomes of the team of talpions.
When they have an idea, they are encouraged to apply. Keeping aside the failure ratio or economical situation, they develop their projects. And if they fail, they take the lessons and go towards another.
The key entrepreneurship trait of Israel is ‘Rosh Gadol‘ thinking which means improvisation over discipline. In simple words, it means that the Israeli’s are encouraged to challenge their seniors. If at any point saying ‘NO’ is the solution, they won’t hesitate to refuse. Their focus lies on bringing the best to the table whether it comes from the senior or the juniors. Being senior doesn’t mean that you have mastered the skills from every aspect and you can never be wrong.
3. The Team Building Attitude
Despite being the technological hub and the military nation, what’s the one human factor that makes the nation successful?
The support for ideas. And even if your idea fails, they will encourage you to step up for the second.
“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
Keeping that statement in mind, if you have an idea, your startup is only a phone call away. If you’re done with the military training and ended up your college, bring the right idea on board and they will connect you to the people who will help you build your startup. Even the Government will support you for the required funds and would minimize the taxes burden from your business.
Although Israel empowers a lot of startups every year and only half of them got successful but the ones who got the success adds in building the economy of Israel. Most of their universities are opened 24/7 and they are given the opportunities to learn, practice and socialize at the campus. After all that, if your idea failed, it won’t be considered as a lifetime failure, instead, they take it as an experience and encourage to mention it on the CV.
The other big reason is their Immigration culture. Known as the nation of Immigrants, they welcome people from all over the world. Unlike the US citizenship which focuses on keeping the Immigrants out, Israel do all the meaningful actions, to keep the Immigrants in. It helps to boost its economy and settle their land. But now when they are settled, their immigration policy is still the same. It is also their strategy to welcome the diversification of ideas.
An Israeli mother might be satisfied with a child who becomes a doctor or a lawyer, but she will be at least as proud of her son or daughter “the entrepreneur.”
~The Startup Nation
Summing it all, Israel is known as the idea factory because of their diversification, innovation and being the technological hub. The air of innovation is so powerful that everyone is fueled to think of an idea that leads them to success. And the culmination of thousands of ideas like these makes them a Startup Nation or an Idea-Driven Nation I would say.
In the book the Startup Nation, the authors Dan Senor and Saul Singer have unleashed great secrets and examples of the nation that changed its fate through ideas, efforts and entrepreneurship culture.
So, rather than fearing for your idea to fail, it’s better to try and then fail. If it gets successful, you might become more strong than Israeli entrepreneurs.
And what’s the best way to skip the 9 to 5 job culture?