Tag Archives: Israel

Global Entrepreneurship 2016 – Part 1: the Macroeconomics

I just read two great reports about entrepreneurship. The first one is the Global Entrepreneurship Index 2016 (GEI). The second one is the Startup Playbook by Sam Altman (Ycombinator). Whereas the second one is about the micro features of entrepreneurship, the GEI is a worldwide macro-economic analysis. I will cover the Startup Playbook in the part 2 of these series of posts, so let me focus here in the GEI.

Global-Entrepreneurship-Index

What I found really interesting is that compared to the Global Innovation Index (GII) about which I always have doubts – I think it measures more the inputs necessary for innovation than the outputs – I feel much more comfortable with the criteria and results of the GEI. For example, the USA is number one which makes a lot of sense and Switzerland is #8. Switzerland is #1 in the GII which is some kind of a mystery to me. France and Israel are #10 and #21 in the GEI but #20 and #21 in the GII.

Global-Entrepreneurship-Index-USA-Isr-CH-FR

The 3 As of Entrepreneurship

So how is this measured? The authors define 3 framework conditions entrepreneurship: attitudes, abilities and aspirations.[Pages 26-27 of the document or 49-50 of the pdf]. They also define 14 related pillars [Pages 19-22 of the document or 42-45 of the pdf]

Entrepreneurial attitudes are societies’ attitudes toward entrepreneurship, which we define as a population’s general feelings about recognizing opportunities, knowing entrepreneurs personally, endowing entrepreneurs with high status, accepting the risks associated with business startups, and having the skills to launch a business successfully. The benchmark individuals are those who can recognize valuable business opportunities and have the skills to exploit them; who attach high status to entrepreneurs; who can bear and handle startup risks; who know other entrepreneurs personally (i.e., have a network or role models); and who can generate future entrepreneurial activities.

Moreover, these people can provide the cultural support, financial resources, and networking potential to those who are already entrepreneurs or want to start a business. Entrepreneurial attitudes are important because they express the general feeling of the population toward entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Countries need people who can recognize valuable business opportunities, and who perceive that they have the required skills to exploit these opportunities. Moreover, if national attitudes toward entrepreneurship are positive, it will generate cultural support, financial support, and networking benefits for those who want to start businesses.

Entrepreneurial abilities refer to the entrepreneurs’ characteristics and those of their businesses. Different types of entrepreneurial abilities can be distinguished within the realm of new business efforts. Creating businesses may vary by industry sector, the legal form of organization, and demographics—age, education, etc. We define entrepreneurial abilities as startups in the medium- or high-technology sectors that are initiated by educated entrepreneurs, and launched because of someone being motivated by an opportunity in an environment that is not overly competitive. In order to calculate the opportunity startup rate, we use the GEM TEA Opportunity Index. TEA captures new startups not only as the creation of new ventures but also as startups within existing businesses, such as a spinoff or other entrepreneurial effort. Differences in the quality of startups are quantified by the entrepreneur’s education level—that is, if they have a postsecondary education—and the uniqueness of the product or service as measured by the level of competition. Moreover, it is generally maintained that opportunity motivation is a sign of better planning, a more sophisticated strategy, and higher growth expectations than “necessity” motivation in startups.

Entrepreneurial aspiration reflects the quality aspects of startups and new businesses. Some people just hate their employer and want to be their own boss, while others want to create the next Microsoft. Entrepreneurial aspiration is defined as the early-stage entrepreneur’s effort to introduce new products and/or services, develop new production processes, penetrate foreign markets, substantially increase their company’s staff, and finance their business with formal and/or informal venture capital. Product and process innovation, internationalization, and high growth are considered the key characteristics of entrepreneurship. Here we added a finance variable to capture the informal and formal venture capital potential that is vital for innovative startups and high-growth firms.

Each of these three building blocks of entrepreneurship influences the other two. For example, entrepreneurial attitudes influence entrepreneurial abilities and entrepreneurial aspirations, while entrepreneurial aspirations and abilities also influence entrepreneurial attitudes.

GEI-Conditions

The 14 Pillars of Entrepreneurship

The pillars of entrepreneurship are many and complex. While a widely accepted definition of
entrepreneurship is lacking, there is general agreement that the concept has numerous dimensions. […] Considering all of these possibilities and limitations, we define entrepreneurship as “the dynamic, institutionally embedded interaction between entrepreneurial attitudes, entrepreneurial abilities, and entrepreneurial aspirations by individuals, which drives the allocation of resources through the creation and operation of new ventures.”

Entrepreneurial Attitudes Pillars

Pillar 1: Opportunity Perception. This pillar captures the potential “opportunity perception” of a population by considering the size of its country’s domestic market and level of urbanization. Within this pillar is the individual variable, Opportunity Recognition, which measures the percentage of the population that can identify good opportunities to start a business in the area where they live. However, the value of these opportunities also depends on the size of the market. The institutional variable Market Agglomeration consists of two smaller variables: the size of the domestic market (Domestic Market) and urbanization (Urbanization). The Urbanization variable is intended to capture which opportunities have better prospects in developed urban areas than they do in poorer rural areas.

Pillar 2: Startup Skills
. Launching a successful venture requires the potential entrepreneur to have the necessary startup skills. Skill Perception measures the percentage of the population who believe they have adequate startup skills. Most people in developing countries think they have the skills needed to start a business, but their skills usually were acquired through workplace trial and error in relatively simple business activities. In developed countries, business formation, operation, management, etc., requires skills that are acquired through formal education and training. Hence education, especially postsecondary education, plays a vital role in teaching and developing entrepreneurial skills.

Pillar 3: Risk Acceptance. Of the personal entrepreneurial traits, fear of failure is one of the most important obstacles to a startup.

Pillar 4: Networking. Networking combines an entrepreneur’s personal knowledge with their ability to use the Internet for business purposes. This combination serves as a proxy for networking, which is also an important ingredient of successful venture creation and entrepreneurship.

Pillar 5: Cultural Support. This pillar is a combined measure of how a country’s inhabitants view entrepreneurs in terms of status and career choice, and how the level of corruption in that country affects this view.

Entrepreneurial Abilities Pillars

Pillar 6: Opportunity Startup. This is a measure of startups by people who are motivated by opportunity but face regulatory constraints. An entrepreneur’s motivation for starting a business is an important signal of quality. Opportunity entrepreneurs are believed to be better prepared, to have superior skills, and to earn more than what we call necessity entrepreneurs.

Pillar 7: Technology Absorption. In the modern knowledge economy, information and communication technologies (ICT) play a crucial role in economic development. Not all sectors provide the same chances for businesses to survive and or their potential for growth. The Technology Level variable is a measure of the businesses that are in technology sectors.

Pillar 8: Human Capital. The prevalence of high-quality human capital is vitally important for ventures that are highly innovative and require an educated, experienced, and healthy workforce to continue to grow.

Pillar 9: Competition. Competition is a measure of a business’s product or market uniqueness, combined with the market power of existing businesses and business groups.

Entrepreneurial Aspirations Pillars

Pillar 10: Product Innovation. New products play a crucial role in the economy of all countries. New Product is a measure of a country’s potential to generate new products and to adopt or imitate existing products.

Pillar 11: Process Innovation. Applying and/or creating new technology is another important feature of businesses with high growth potential. New Tech is defined as the percentage of businesses whose principal underlying technology is less than five years old.

Pillar 12: High Growth. This is a combined measure of the percentage of high-growth businesses that intend to employ at least ten people and plan to grow more than 50 percent in five years (Gazelle variable) with business strategy sophistication (Business Strategy variable).

Pillar 13: Internationalization. Internationalization is believed to be a major determinant of growth. A widely applied proxy for internationalization is exporting.

Pillar 14: Risk Capital. The availability of risk finance, particularly equity rather than debt, is an essential precondition for fulfilling entrepreneurial aspirations that are beyond an individual entrepreneur’s personal financial resources.

The reason I really felt synchronized with the authors (congrats to Zoltán J. Ács, László Szerb, Erkko Autio for the great work!) is a final extract from pages 63-64 (86-87 of the pdf): they explain the challenges and related mistakes and describe better approaches.

Unfortunately, although high-growth entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems are high on many policy agendas, there is fairly little understanding of how policy can foster them most effectively. Most entrepreneurship policy playbooks remain stuck with old world policy approaches, which focus on identifying and fixing “market failures” and “structural failures.” Such approaches, while effective in addressing well-specified market and structural failures, are hopelessly inadequate to deal with the complexities of entrepreneurial ecosystems.
A classic example of a market failure is the failure of businesses to invest in R&D. Because R&D is a risky and uncertain activity, many firms are tempted to wait, to let others to take the risk, and then quickly copy successful projects. But if everyone thought this way, no one would invest in R&D, and innovative activities would stagnate. Therefore, governments address this market failure by providing subsidies for R&D—in effect, participating in the downside risk while allowing firms to keep the upside returns.
In contrast to subsidizing specific activities, a structural failure policy would seek to build support services and structures that support new firm creation and growth. Examples of structural failure policies include, for example, the creation of science parks and business incubators to shelter and support startup ventures.
Both of these approaches fail to address the complexities of entrepreneurial ecosystems, which are too complex to allow easy identification of specific clean-cut market failures, such as insufficient investment in R&D. The “product” entrepreneurial ecosystems produce is innovative and high-growth new ventures. Creating high-growth new ventures is a far more complex undertaking than starting an R&D project. If we do not see a sufficient number of high-growth new ventures, where exactly is the market failure supposed to reside? The standard approach by governments, which is consistent with market failure thinking, is that there perhaps is not sufficient support funding available to start new, high-growth firms. However, as much as governments have provided subsidies to support new firm creation, the results have not been very encouraging.
Another major problem with both market failure and structural failure approaches is that they are top-down, where the policy maker analyzes, designs, and implements entrepreneurship policy. Top-down, however, is not a feasible approach in entrepreneurial ecosystems that consist of multiple independent stakeholders. In such situations, a policymaker cannot simply command and control, as you have no formal authority over ecosystem stakeholders. Instead, policymakers need to engage the various stakeholders and co-opt them as active participants and contributors to the policy intervention.
[…]
Entrepreneurial ecosystems are fundamentally interaction systems consisting of multiple, co-specialized, yet hierarchically independent stakeholders, many of which may not even know one another. Here, co-specialization means that different stakeholders play different roles—venture capitalists, research institutions, different supporting institutions, new ventures, established businesses, and so on. They offer complementary skills and services, and normally depend on others to accomplish their goals, which implies that team play is needed.
In the above, hierarchical independence means that there are no formal lines of command, unlike, say, within government agencies or industrial corporations. Everyone makes their own independent decisions and optimizes their own performance. Combined with co-specialization, this creates a mutual dependency dilemma: to accomplish your goals you must depend on others, yet you cannot tell others what to do. Cooperation is therefore required. This limits the usability of traditional top-down policies, which are usually implemented through formal chains of command (e.g., a government department designing a policy, which is then implemented by a government agency overseen by the department).
Also of relevance is the notion of interaction systems, which means that the stakeholders of entrepreneurial ecosystems “co-produce” their outputs, such as innovative high-growth new ventures. These outputs are coproduced through a myriad of usually uncoordinated interactions between hierarchically independent yet interdependent stakeholders. This combination of independence and interdependence makes coordination challenging.
In the GEI model, it is the entrepreneurs who drive the entrepreneurial trial-and-error dynamic. This means that entrepreneurs start new businesses to pursue opportunities that they themselves perceive. An entrepreneurial opportunity is simply a chance to make money through a new venture, such as producing and selling goods and services for profit. However, entrepreneurs can never tell in advance whether a given opportunity is real or not: the only way to validate an opportunity is to pursue it. In other words, entrepreneurs need to take risks: they need to access and mobilize resources (human, financial, physical, technological) before they can verify whether or not a profit can be made. This means, then, that not all entrepreneurial efforts will be successful, as some opportunities turn out to be mere mirages. In such cases, the budding entrepreneur will realize sooner or later that they are never going to make a profit, or that they could make more money doing something else. In such cases, the entrepreneur will abandon the current pursuit and do something else instead.
If, however, an entrepreneurial opportunity turns out to be real, the entrepreneurs will make more money pursuing that opportunity than doing something else, and they will continue to exploit it. The net outcome of this entrepreneurial trial-and-error dynamic, therefore, is the allocation of resources to productive uses. In other words, a healthy entrepreneurial dynamic within a given economy will drive total factor productivity, or the difference between inputs and outputs. The greater the total factor productivity, the greater the economy’s capacity to create new wealth.

What makes an entrepreneurial ecosystem by Nicolas Colin

Great analysis by Nicolas Colin (The Family) in his article What makes an entrepreneurial ecosystem? If the topic interests you, it is a must-read.

Colin-Ecosystems

in a nutshell, the entrepreneurial ecosystems need 3 ingredients – I quote:
– capital: by definition, no new business can be launched without money and relevant infrastructures (which consist of capital tied up in tangible assets);
– know-how: you need engineers, developers, designers, salespeople: all those whose skills are necessary for launching and growing innovative businesses;
– rebellion: an entrepreneur always challenges the status quo. If they wanted to play by the book, they would innovate within big, established companies, where they would be better paid and would have access to more resources.

This reminds me of two “recipes” I often mention. First the “5 needed ingredients of tech. clusters”
1. Universities and research centers of a very high caliber;
2. An industry of venture capital (i.e. financial institutions and private investors);
3. Experienced professionals in high tech;
4. Service providers such as lawyers, head hunters, public relations and marketing specialists, auditors, etc.
5. Last but not least, an intangible yet critical component: a pioneering spirit which encourages an entrepreneurial culture.
in “Understanding Silicon Valley, the Anatomy of an Entrepreneurial Region”, by M. Kenney, more precisely in chapter: “A Flexible Recycling” by S. Evans and H. Bahrami

Second, Paul Graham in How to be Silicon Valley? “Few startups happen in Miami, for example, because although it’s full of rich people, it has few nerds. It’s not the kind of place nerds like. Whereas Pittsburgh has the opposite problem: plenty of nerds, but no rich people.” He also added about failed ecosystems: “I read occasionally about attempts to set up “technology parks” in other places, as if the active ingredient of Silicon Valley were the office space. An article about Sophia Antipolis bragged that companies there included Cisco, Compaq, IBM, NCR, and Nortel. Don’t the French realize these aren’t startups?”

Many toxic friends of entrepreneurial ecosystems have not understood this. But for those who have understood, building lively ecosystems remains a real challenge: bringing the rebellion, the culture, diminishing the fear of risk taking without stigmatizing (not rewarding– here I disagree with Colin) failure remains highly challenging whereas finding know-how and capital is not easy but feasible with some hard work…

Finally, I copy his diagrams which show ideal and less ideal combinations of capital, know-how and rebellion, adding my exercise for Switzerland.

NicolasColin-NationalEcoCompar

Switzerland is probably 80% Germany and 20% France…

SwissNationalEcoCompar

(A short addition on Oct 29, 2015) – The best description of Switzerland was given by Orson Welles. It explains a lot of things…

“In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” in The Third Man, said by Holly Martins to Harry Lime.

Check Point, the Israel success story

After my recent posts about Israel and high-tech innovation, I discovered I did know not very well the Check Point story. Start-up Nation did not provide much info and though you can find a lot on Wikipedia or on the Facts@Glance of the company. for example, I became a little frustrated when I discovered I could not find much about the company early days and IPO. I even had to buy the IPO filing through the SEC as the document is not public on the web and Check Point could not help me with such info.

There are a couple of very interesting points:
– the three founders had equal shareholding at foundation (and afer Check Point went public).
– Gil Shwed, one of the co-founders, is still the chairman and CEO. Another unexperienced and young entrepreneur who grew his baby through adulthood.
– Many women in the management of the company, Deborah Triant at the time of IPO, but even today Dorit Dor, Tal Payne and Juliette Sultan as the executive team page shows. (This may have to be linked to Israel culture again).


Gil Schwed, Shlomo Kramer ,Marius Nacht, the 3 co-founders and
Deborah Triant (from the early web sites of Check Point)

Now the usual cap. table that I could build from the IPO filing and the shareholding pies at the end of the post.

– What is interesting is that Check Point did not raise a lot of money, mostly $600k from BRM in 1993. There were also some loans ($400k) and R&D ($160k) from BRM also which do not appear in the shareholding.
– The American VCs (Venrock and USVP) bought shares from BRM in a secondary financing, so there was no new money for Check Point.
– Check Point issued 3M new shares at IPO and existing shareholders (BRM and the 3 co-founders) sold 1.2M shares.
– Not the least impressive, it took the company 3 years only to go public and its 1995 and 1996 numbers are already impressive.

As usual, I hope this does not include too many inaccuracies or mistakes…

Start-Up Nation: Israel

Thanks to an opportunity I got to meet with the Israel Chief Scientist, and the fact I was offered Start-Up Nation at the end of the meeting, let me give you my views on this very interesting book. But first a few things about Israel and innovation.

As the map (adapted from John Kao, Harvard and showed at the OCS meeting) indicates, Israel is an innovation superpower. Cisco, Intel, Microsoft, Novartis, Nestle and many others are located there. Check Point is just one of the many start-up success stories. Israel has more start-ups quoted on Nasdaq than Europe and venture capital is very active there. Finally the office of the chief scientist manages and funds the public side of innovation in Israel. All this is perfectly analyzed in the book Start-Up Nation that I have just read.

I thought I knew a lot about Israel, but the book is rich in anecdotes. The history of Israel is well described and innovation was probably a necessity to survive. If there is a point I appreciated less is the importance the authors give to the military. They may be right, that’s not the point, but I thought the topic came too often in the chapters. This remains a great book and a must read for anyone interested in high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship.

I’d like now to quote a few things I liked. It’s not structured at all, but I invite you to read the book!

From the Introduction

Google’s CEO and chairman, Eric Schmidt said  that the United States is the number one place in the world for entrepreneurs, but “after the U.S., Israel is the best.” Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has called Microsoft “an Israeli company as much as an American company” because of the size and centrality of its Israeli teams.”

The authors begin by explaining that adversity and multidimensionality as much as the talent of individuals, are critical:  “it is a story not just of talent but of tenacity, of insatiable questioning of authority, of determined informality, combined with a unique attitude toward failure, teamwork, mission, risk, and cross-disciplinary creativity.”

Chapter 1- Persistence

The usual joke Americans need to put, but it is a good one!
Four guys are standing on a street corner . . .
an American, a Russian, a Chinese man, and an Israeli. . . .
A reporter comes up to the group and says to them:
“Excuse me. . . . What’s your opinion on the meat shortage?”
The American says: What’s a shortage?
The Russian says: What’s meat?
The Chinese man says: What’s an opinion?
The Israeli says: What’s “Excuse me”?

—MIKE LEIGH, Two Thousand Years

– No inhibition about challenging the logic behind the way things have been done for years.
– A rude, aggressive culture which tolerates failure.
Israeli attitude and informality flow also from a cultural tolerance for what some Israelis call “constructive failures” or “intelligent failures.”
– It is critical to distinguish between “a well-planned experiment and a roulette wheel
(During the meeting with the chief scientist, there was a similar argument: “if we have a 5% success rate, we’d better give the responsability to donkeys to choose and if it is 70% success rate, we do not take enough risks”)
– Amos Oz talks about “a culture of doubt and argument, an open-ended game of interpretations, counter-interpretations, reinterpretations, opposing interpretations. From the very beginning of the existence of the Jewish civilization, it was recognized by its argumentativeness.”

Chapter 2- Lesson from the military

– Narrow hierarchy and autonomy gives a lot of responsibility to individuals, authority is discussed
– People are mature earlier.
– No need to wait for order to act.
– “The key for leadership is the soldiers’ confidence in their commander. If you don’t trust him, if you’re not confident in him, you can’t follow him.
– “If you aren’t even aware that the people in the organization disagree with you, then you are in trouble

– “Real experience also typically comes with age or maturity. But in Israel, you get experience, perspective, and maturity at a younger age, because the society jams so many transformative experiences into Israelis when they’re barely out of high school. By the time they get to college, their heads are in a different place than those of their American counterparts.”… “The notion that one should accumulate credentials before launching a venture simply does not exist.”

A dense networkthe whole country is one degree of separation (Yossi Vardi)

Chapter 5- Order and chaos

– Singapore’s leaders have failed to keep up in a world that puts a high premium on a trio of attributes historically alien to Singapore’s culture: initiative, risk-taking, and agility; in addition to being real experts who can improvise in situations of crisis.
– Innovation is fundamentally an experimental endeavor (improvisation over discipline)
– Learn from mistake with no fear of losing face.
– Nobody learns from someone who is being self defensive
– Fluidity, according to a new school of economists studying key ingredients for entrepreneurialism, is produced when people can cross boundaries, turn societal norms upside down, and agitate in a free-market economy, all to catalyze radical ideas.

Chapter 7 – Immigration

Immigrants are not averse to starting over. They are, by definition, risk takers. A nation of immigrants is a nation of entrepreneurs.—GIDI GRINSTEIN

Sergey Brin spoke in an Israeli high school: “Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys,” he said in Russian, his choice of language prompting spontaneous applause. “I emigrated from Russia when I was six,” Brin continued. “I went to the United States. Similar to you, I have standard Russian-Jewish parents. My dad is a math professor. They have a certain attitude about studies. And I think I can relate that here, because I was told that your school recently got seven out of the top ten places in a math competition throughout all Israel.” This time the students clapped for their own achievement. “But what I have to say,” Brin continued, cutting through the applause, “is what my father would say—‘What about the other three?

The authors mention the seminal work of AnnaLee Saxenian (Regional advantage, the New Argonauts). As a few examples of Israel tech. diaspora mentioned in the book:
– Dov Frohman – Intel – 1974 –  Wikipedia link. Apparently Israel has been the core of Intel innovation in the past decade and Intel is the largest private employer in Israel.
– Michael Laor – Cisco – 1997 –  Linkedin profile. Cisco has acquired 9 israeli start-ups since Laor came back (more acquisitions than in any other country except the USA)
– Yoelle Maarek – Google –  http://yoelle.com now at Yahoo!

But one should not forget Mirabilis/ICQ (see below)  or Check Point. Check Point was established in 1993, by the company’s current Chairman & CEO Gil Shwed, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Shwed at the age of 25, together with two of his friends, Marius Nacht (currently serving as Vice Chairman) and Shlomo Kramer (who left Check Point in 2003 to set up a new company).

Chapter 9 – Yozma

Another member of the tech. diaspora: Orna Berry – PhD USC – Unisys-IBM then Ornet and Gemini then OCS chief… The VC industry was really launched through the Yozma effort as well as Israeli incubators. Gemini was the first Israel fund. See the wikipedia article about venture capital in Israel.

Another quote on start-ups vs. more mature industries: “In aerospace, you can’t be an entrepreneur,” he explained. “The government owns the industry, and the projects are huge. But I learned a lot of technical things there that helped me immensely later on.”

Chapter 12 – Transdisciplinarity

“There’s a multitask mentality here.” The multitasking mentality produces an environment in which job titles—and the compartmentalization that goes along with them—don’t mean much.
– “Combining mathematics, biology, computer science, and organic chemistry at Compugen”
– “Putting this together required an unorthodox combination of engineering skills.”

The term in the United States for this kind of crossover is a mashup. And the term itself has been rapidly morphing and acquiring new meanings. … An even more powerful mashup, in our view, is when innovation is born from the combination of radically different technologies and disciplines. The companies where mashups are most common in Israel are in the medical-device and biotech sectors, where you find wind tunnel engineers and doctors collaborating on a credit card–sized device.

But the authors do not forget to mention that Israel is A country with a motive

Role models

Though Israel was already well into its high-tech swing by then, the ICQ sale was a national phenomenon. It inspired many more Israelis to become entrepreneurs. The founders, after all, were a group of young hippies. Exhibiting the common Israeli response to all forms of success, many figured, If these guys did it, I can do it better. Further, the sale was a source of national pride, like winning a gold medal in the world’s technology Olympics.

“There’s a legitimate way to make a profit because you’re inventing something,” says Erel Margalit “You talk about a way of life—not necessarily about how much money you’re going to make, though it’s obviously also about that.”

“Indeed, what makes the current Israeli blend so powerful is that it is a mashup of the founders’ patriotism, drive, and constant consciousness of scarcity and adversity and the curiosity and restlessness that have deep roots in Israeli and Jewish history. “The greatest contribution of the Jewish people in history is dissatisfaction,” Peres explained.

Again “Not just talent, but tenacity, insatiable questioning of authority, determined informality, unique attitude toward failure, teamwork, mission, risk and cross-disciplinary creativity.”

As a conclusion

“So what is the answer to the central question of this book: What makes Israel so innovative and entrepreneurial? The most obvious explanation lies in a classic cluster of the type Harvard professor Michael Porter has championed, Silicon Valley embodies. It consists of the tight proximity of great universities, large companies, start-ups, and the ecosystem that connects them—including everything from suppliers, an engineering talent pool, and venture capital. Part of this more visible part of the cluster is the role of the military in pumping R&D funds into cutting-edge systems and elite technological units, and the spillover from this substantial investment, both in technologies and human resources, into the civilian economy. … But this outside layer does not fully explain Israel’s success. Singapore has a strong educational system. Korea has conscription and has been facing a massive security threat for its entire existence. Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Ireland are relatively small countries with advanced technology and excellent infrastructure; they have produced lots of patents and reaped robust economic growth. Some of these countries have grown faster for longer than Israel has and enjoy higher standards of living, but none of them have produced anywhere near the number of start-ups or have attracted similarly high levels of venture capital investments. What’s missing in these other countries is a cultural core built on a rich stew of aggressiveness and team orientation, on isolation and connectedness, and on being small and aiming big. Quantifying that hidden, cultural part of an economy is no easy feat. An unusual combination of cultural attributes. In fact, Israel scores high on egalitarianism, nurturing, and individualism. In Israel, the seemingly contradictory attributes of being both driven and “flat,” both ambitious and collectivist make sense when you throw in the experience that so many Israelis go through in the military. There is no leadership without personal example and without inspiring your team. The secret, then, of Israel’s success is the combination of classic elements of technology clusters with some unique Israeli elements that enhance the skills and experience of individuals, make them work together more effectively as teams, and provide tight and readily available connections within an established and growing community.

If you have arrived here, you were interested enough in this long article. Logically, your next move would be to buy Start-Up Nation!

Israel (through Finland)

I spent 5 days in Finland in mid-October and I came back with interesting lessons. But before writing about these in my next post, I would like to come back on the Israel situation which interestingly enough has been a strong model for Finland. I had discovered the Victa report (you may see my older post) a few years ago and during my trip, Will Caldwell who had invited me to Helsinki offered me his book Attracting Foreign Investment into Early-Stage Finnish Technology Companies. An Examination of Different Investment Modes Including Case Study: Comparing High-Tech Investing Environments in Israel and Finland.

One of the strong features of the Israeli situation is how international their start-ups are. This includes international investors and also the fact that most start-ups have a US presence very early in their development. (They have fully digested the Go West I mentioned in my post of yesterday). And finally, the M&A and IPO ouputs are a by-product of all this. Will’s book was published in 1999 so it could look old, but it is not. Let me just show you a number of examples: one striking element which is not about Israel is a comparison of what entrepreneurs need and what local business angels (in Finland) can bring.

The discrepancy which appears was an argument for the need of international VCs. This may still be the case!

Now more about Israel. The country is known for its great success with high-tech start-ups and here is what Will was showing:
– Table 6: Israel had more start-ups on Nasdaq than Europe as a whole. One may claim Europe has local stock exchanges but it would not change the success measure.
– Table 5: The M&A activity mostly by US companies (of course). You could compare to my table about European M&As in my book.
– Appendix 4: the Mkt. Cap. Of all Israeli Nasdaq companies in 1998.

The results are obviously impressive but if you look closely at the volatilities, it also showed that the Israeli situation was diverse. Below, I just did an update of his tables.

One final table I steal from his book is a comparison of what entrepreneurs claimed in the business plans and what really happened. Not surprising but I had not seen it so often.

Now my updates of his tables: I looked at these public companies again. I used the Nasdaq web site and Wikipedia and then Yahoo and Google finance. So here are the updated values of the companies which were public at the time and the new public companies. I have not done stats yet, but the basic description of all this is good enough I think!