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Start Up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

Start up Nation is a great book about the country of Israel and the economic miracle they went through beginning in the late 1980’s. It talks about the diversity of problems they went through from being located in a hostile Middle East region and how they overcame adversity to become one of the most successful countries in the world with technology and startups. Throughout the book, you learn about the impact some of their technologies had on major companies like Google, Microsoft, and Berkshire Hathaway (just to name a few). The big question this book addresses is how is it that Israel, a country of 7.1 million, only 60 years old, surrounded by enemies in a constant state of war since its origination, with no natural resources produces more start-up companies than large, peaceful, and stable nations like Japan, China, India, Korea, Canada and the UK. Israel builds regional clusters which can be thought of as “startup communities” and they do it well, other countries have tried to duplicate this process with little or no success. Additionally, there tends to be a culture in Israel where risk is embraced and good ideas are worked upon and given the chance to grow.

Start Up Nation

Israel and the Silicon Valley

I think it’s important to see the similarities in this book with both Israel and the Silicon Valley. In my opinion, both places would lie in a very similar environment and you could even classify them as very similar clusters. They both have major web companies (i.e. Google, Microsoft, Intel, etc.) that do business here and try to make technological advancements and acquisitions. Through the authors stories, I found Israel just like the Silicon Valley has high levels of innovation throughout their country and rich venture capitalists just waiting to do business with technology firms just like the Silicon Valley. Israelis tend to be great problem solvers and think outside the box coming up with solutions for solar car technology, social media, and computer chips. I found the story about the Israeli data company Fraud Sciences particularly interesting in that they were able to detect fraud more accurately than Paypal and with less data. Fraud Sciences was later bought by Paypal for $169 million. I thought these types of things only happened in the Silicon Valley.

Start Up Nation

The Culture of Israel

This book talks a lot about the Culture of Israel so I thought I would touch on that a little bit too because they certainly have their differences from the rest of the world, but in a good way. Every Israeli is introduced to the Military and has to go through it at a young age. What can be more important than GPA is what type of rank an Israeli had coming out of the military. If you’re just coming out of the military and looking for a job in Israel, it’s often the hiring manager won’t care about your GPA but they will care about your military rank. The government encourages immigration and investment in research and development. A lot of people from all over the world go to Israel to learn at their Universities and colleges and may stay there because they have an open immigration policy. There is a lot of opportunity in Israel for smart, successful people. The other thing you find in the book is that Israelis tend to be more open than others in social and business settings. For example, while it may be considered rude to tell others their kid needs a haircut in the United States it’s perfectly acceptable in Israel. Also, business leaders are frequently questioned and grilled by junior executives on practices and policies.

Start Up Nation

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