In Israel in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles” David Ben Gurion.
But what happens when Israelis expand out to foreign shores.. surprise cultural changes, and fundraising and recruitment practises, and some lessons for us all.
On Wednesday evening I attended ‘TALKING TACHLES’- a small panel discussion and networking event organised by the Israel Tech Parliament where Israeli company founders were interviewed on their experience of doing business here in the UK.
The timing of such events couldn’t be more topical for me, bearing in mind bilateral trade between the UK and Israel reached £6.9bn in 2017, up 25% compared to £5.5bn in 2016. The growth in trade is expected to continue…
“As more Israeli companies look to open operations in the UK, the outlook for 2018 is good and we expect to see continued growth in trade and investment between the UK and Israel.” Director of UK Israel Business Business Hugo Bieber
Back to the event, the overall theme put to the panel for discussion.. How do you hire the best people and raise funds from top VCs all while building a global startup?
In keeping with the high calibre of savvy specialists that have spoken at previous events run by Tech Parliament, the speakers, were as sharp as they were knowledgeable in successful entrepreneurship. As was to be expected, there were some charismatic disagreements on the topic of the most suitable way or raising funds for your startups, however many agreements on the good practice in raising funds and sourcing and building excellent teams.
Comparisons of the UK market were made against leading Tech ecosystems, the likes of LA, Tel Aviv and NY.
The list below is by no way exhaustive, and in this short piece, it is my intention to relay some of the lessons shared by the panel.
“Optimise for resilience”
ONE: SEEK RELEVANT INVESTORS
Really review the background and market expertise added by the investor, as the biggest dilution of your company will be at the seed stage. The experience that the investor has in the sector you’re in is crucial, and startups should not undervalue the investors legacy, at least exposure, in the space they are wishing to disrupt.
“The UK is a more relaxed startup environment compared with NY, West Coast and Israel, which is often an advantage when building relationships”
TWO: WHEN AND WHEN NOT TO BE ISRAELI
‘Chutzpah’ often understood as ‘extreme self-confidence or audacity’ has its pro’s and con’s when working with prospective clients. While young Israeli’s can be known for utilising their resourcefulness and drive, to meet ambitious promises made to new clients, larger UK organisations will expect structures in place in order.
One of the panellists highlighted that a younger member of the team had to be reminded of whats more important, winning the argument with the client, or keeping them as a client.
THREE: KNOW HOW TO SOLVE YOUR MARKETS NEED
Even when launching your service in a foreign market, you need to be the most knowledgeable, most target-driven leader within your startup.
‘You should be the first sales person in your business’
FOUR: LEARN FROM YOUR OWN PEOPLE
You would be severely limiting your fundraising potential if you only went to VC’s in your native country. That said, it was stated that ‘Israeli VC’s can be the most cynical in the world’
The benefit of this is that thorough analysis, and funding rejection explanation can add valuable insight, often shaping your business model and growth strategy. Thus leaving you in a stronger position when applying for investment elsewhere.
The question time at the end brought about some well thought out questions from the 90% Hebrew speaking audience. As a Brit, and aiming to help British invest get a slice of the economic miracle that is the Israeli ‘startup nation’ I’m grateful that the panel found some things they liked about the British way of working, and the desire of the entrepreneurs to build long-term partnerships here in the UK.
#israel #investinisrael #startups #entrepeneurs #venturecapitalists