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Cohort Meeting Recap: Introducing AtoBe and Words of Wisdom from Experts

We are excited to have started the second phase of our accelerator program!

The first cohort meeting was held on March 15th, and our 11 teams came together to listen to a panel of expert speakers, including those from Azrieli College of Engineering, startup sensation Nimrod Kramer and former Minister of Education Yuli Tamir.

Azrieli College will be hosting this phase of the program’s accelerator and at the event, College President Rosa Azhari welcomed the participants and expressed how “the College is happy to be a partner in this program.” Michael Mizrahi, director of the College’s startup accelerator AtoBe, introduced the participants to AtoBe and spoke about the differences between startup accelerators and incubators.

Mizrahi finds that when we speak about accelerator programs and incubators, it largely depends on where you are located. It is different in the U.S. and Europe when compared to Israel: they refer to an “accelerator” the same way entrepreneurs in Israel mean to refer to an “incubator,” and vice versa. An accelerator in Israel facilitates the initial growth of a startup in 2 to 6 months, and prior to the “acceleration” period, entrepreneurs will go through a pre-acceleration program. Afterwards, when one arrives in the incubation phase, it usually runs for around 2 years in Israel. While no investment is made in the accelerator phase, it is provided in incubators. Likewise, no salaries are involved in accelerators as it is considered the “bootstrap stage,” though incubators receive seed funds and companies borrow up to 10 million dollars.

Mizrahi also speaks in detail about the kind of tools AtoBe provides its entrepreneurs, and how it enables them to build a business, reach a wider audience and raise funds.

He specifies 5 tools that AtoBe gives to its entrepreneurs:

  1. A fully equipped working space

  2. 6 months of unique programing (hands on experience from people who sold a company; from VCs; from angel investors)

  3. Workshops, not lectures; extended networking; full academic support (a drug lab in-house; electronic labs; 3D printers)

  4. AtoBe partners: around 40 local and international companies including Amazon, Google, Microsoft; Indiegogo to launch campaign; Deloitte to handle consulting; law firms; and Dale Carnegie for support

  5. Love, or any help you need.

He mentions that there are 307 acceleration programs in Israel, though 9 out of 10 companies usually fail the acceleration program.

Mahmoud Khweis, a serial entrepreneur and board member at 50:50 Startups, took the floor after Mizrahi. He shared his experiences in entrepreneurship and motivated the teams to persevere through challenges:

“If you survived 20 years of difficulties, you can survive creating a business. I’ve created several businesses, some failed and some are still running for 20+ years now.”

Nimrod Kramer, the co-founder of and The Elegant Monkey, also took the liberty to provide valuable advice about creating startups. Kramer is originally from Jerusalem but moved to Tel Aviv. Kramer shares:

“[I] founded several startups over the past few years; one of the best ways for me to validate if I’m doing something right or wrong is to help other entrepreneurs around me; mentoring them, usually at earlier stages; or help them to sell. [I] mentored a few hundred startups … [and I] noticed that the mistakes across the years in startups are often the same mistakes.”

Kramer explains that you’ll need a number of different elements to establish a business including an idea, business model, team, funding and execution. He asks the participants which element they thought was the most important. Most responded by saying “a team” was most crucial, though others considered “ideas.” Indeed, Nimrod says he also finds the team as the most important, as it is the most difficult to replace and it will dictate whether the idea will be successful, or whether it will make or break the business model. It’s a given factor when you start.

Yuli Tamir, the former Minister of Education and current President of Beit Berl College, also provided her take on the startup culture and to graciously share her wisdom about education. She praises 50:50 for its mission:

“I wholeheartedly believe that what you are doing is the way forward. Despite the desire of many individuals to live together, the real vision of living together has never crossed the political barriers. This is why I am involved in people-to-people action: this is the way to humanize and be part of the same group.”

She explains that people come together on a daily basis not to solve large conflicts but rather, to move forward together as a group. These are ideas and regular conditions where we share similar fields of interests and we work on mutually-considered ideas. She also talks about generational differences in community building, positing that “maybe younger generations can think about space and time differently than our generation, that we saw in the 80s-90s; I worked on processes of globalization and localization, [and it is] interesting to see how the world is divided in people’s minds, what they can share with the world and what they can share with their communities.”

This particular zoom event is a case in point of how “the people you are closer to are the people you share something with.” She feels that “there is a pleasure to be able to circle the world and talk to those who are most interested to you, regardless of borders and other sorts of limitations.” She humbly acknowledges that “as an educator, knowing my own limitations, now I’m open to look at young people and [to] learn from them.”

Cohort meetings are scheduled on a weekly basis. After Passover, in-person meetings will begin, with the option to connect through Zoom if a participant is unable to attend physically.

Written by: Adi Nassar

Edited by: Salina Kuo


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