Friday, May 27, 2016
VOLUME -26 NUMBER 5
Publication Date: 05/1/2011
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Nation of Start-Ups

During a recent trip to Israel, I was surprised at the number of marquees I passed with names of well-known semiconductor and high technology companies. After returning home, and without too much digging, I discovered a fascinating book that addresses how it came to be, that so many start-ups came to this narrow strip of land by the Mediterranean Sea.

Start-Up Nation, The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer, weaves an intriguing exploration of three subjects that I love: Innovation, entrepreneurship and miracles. It is a quick read, very compelling and I positively rate it two thumbs up.

The book addresses how and why Israel's success far outpaces that of other countries. The authors take care to avoid unjustly humiliating the under achievements of other nations, including Israel's neighbors. Rather, the book cites an abundance of metrics and findings that Israel, home to just one one-thousandth of the world's population, represents the highest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today.

The book is part storytelling, part argument, with countless explanations and comparisons. It draws parallels with other countries' experiences while highlighting and differentiating game-breaker attributes that are unique to Israel's ecosystem. The authors stylize their writing in a mosaic-like approach to build the facts, which lead the reader to come to his/her own conclusion. I especially appreciate the effort that the authors put into compiling the sources of their research, including a well-documented bibliography. The index is complete, allowing easy reference to key events, people and places.

The impetus for the book originated in 2001 after Dan Senor brought to Israel a group of 28 Harvard Business School classmates representing North America, Europe and India to explore Israel's economy, politics and history. It became astonishingly apparent to this group of alums that Israel radiated innovation and entrepreneurship, begging the question: Why? As the years passed, Dan Senor collaborated with Saul Singer, to address the reasons for Israel's success, which culminated in writing the book.

The book points out how modern Israel's founding fathers laid the groundwork to enable high technology start-ups to sprout throughout the country. The book cites example after example of the nation's unique combinations of audacity, creativity and drive that is woven into the fabric of her success. A key prognosticator is the military and defense industry, which plays a key role in producing successful spin-off companies.

Start-Up Nation cites parallels found in other countries that are in a state of conflict with their neighbors. The Republic of South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan, for example, have been under threat of attack by neighbors for almost as long as Israel. But, why does Israel breed significantly more start-up companies than these other small, technologically advanced nations? Why does Google's CEO Eric Schmidt declare that Israel is second only to the United States for being the best place in the world for entrepreneurs? Whether you have a propensity to back an "underdog" or a proven "racehorse", we have reason to be in awe of Israel's miraculous achievements.

Start-Up Nation does an excellent job of weaving the compelling story of how Israel, a young, tiny "start-up" nation morphed into a key player in innovation and entrepreneurship. Start-Up Nation, The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. ISBN 978-0-446-54146-6, Hachette Book Group, New York, NY. Hard-cover edition available from Amazon.com for $15.27.  

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