Silicon Valley gets significant attention for its role in producing tech startups that often go on to see massive, international success. However, it’s far from the only startup hub in the world, and it’s not even the only startup hub in the United States.
While Silicon Valley has the advantages of a self-sustaining entrepreneurial reputation and proximity to multiple major universities, other countries have natural advantages that make them highly supportive of new tech entrepreneurs.
Take, for example, Israel, whose rate of entrepreneurship is still growing tremendously, despite being the second-biggest startup hub in the world for the past several years. In the past decade, hundreds of interesting, innovative tech companies have emerged in and around Israel—and they’re worth learning from.
Israeli Startups to Watch in 2020
These are some of the most innovative and interesting tech startups to emerge from Israel in the recent past.
1. DayTwo. DayTwo was founded in 2015 as a science-empowered approach to food as medicine. Primarily focused on glycemic control, DayTwo spurns diet gimmicks in favor of personalized nutrition recommendations. Driven by technology, DayTwo has the power to analyze your individual gut microbiome—the collection of bacteria and microorganisms found naturally in your digestive system—and use that information to determine what you should be eating. Available for both patients and clinicians, DayTwo’s proprietary technology provides evidence-backed recommendations for foods that can help you maintain your blood sugar and weight, and ultimately live a healthier, happier life.
2. Substrata. There’s also Substrata, an AI-powered technology company in Tel Aviv that provides critical insights on conversations, email threads, and other points of human contact. If you ask team SubStrata, business is too important to remain an elusive form of “art.” So they broke down the “art of sales” and turned it into science. With their cutting-edge pragmatic analysis engine (using natural language understanding/AI) they can identify and extract hidden patterns, cues, and subtext from live conversations—and generate critical insights that help dealmakers close any closable business deal. “Our platform’s ‘EQ’ is higher than mine”, as Ori Manor, Co-founder and CEO, once stated.
3. LawGeex. As the name suggests, LawGeex is all about making legal practice easier. Businesses are often slowed down by the process of signing and managing contracts, but LawGeex is trying to make it easier. With the help of AI and machine learning, LawGeex provides tools that can help legal teams and businesses automate and review approvals for everyday business contracts. Ultimately, it gets rid of the legal bottlenecks that can stagnate your company, and hastens the legal process.
4. JoyTunes. Music is a crucial element in the lives of many, but it can be hard to learn how to play an instrument, or better appreciate the music in your life. JoyTunes is an Israeli tech startup hoping to make things easier. JoyTunes has a series of different apps to help people learn how to play the piano (and several other instruments), from a beginner level all the way up to pro level. There are also available apps for families and educators, enabling a more communal experience when learning a new instrument.
5. Verbit. Relying on adaptive algorithms, Verbit is speech recognition technology that provides transcripts for both live and recorded conversations. Sporting more than 99 percent accuracy (a rate that even human transcribers can’t match), Verbit employs AI to consistently improve. It’s an ideal tech tool for captioning videos, or for transcribing conversations (like presentations, sales calls, or important meetings) so you can easily review them later. It caters to the legal and academic industries, but could hypothetically be used by anyone with a need to transcribe.
Keep an eye on these startups in the coming years as they grow and become even more advanced.
What Makes Israel a Startup Hub?
What is it about Israel that makes it such a promising startup hub in the first place? Why are entrepreneurship rates growing so quickly in this country?
There are several potential answers to this question. In the past decade or so, for every startup in Israel that failed, two more launched to take its place, and in terms of startup production, Israel is second only to Silicon Valley, with the highest density of tech startups in the world.
One motivating factor is the number and generosity of Israeli-sponsored government programs incentivizing growth in STEM fields. The Early Stage Incentive Program, for example, is designed to promote technological development, offering grants of up to NIS 10 million every year for approved budgets. Some of these incentives are preferentially given to minorities and Ultra-Orthodox entrepreneurs.
We can also surmise that the entrepreneurial spirit in Israel has blossomed because of the history and needs of the country. Israel has typically been a land of desert and swamp, forcing early innovation in irrigation and other water-related technologies. Due to the violent geopolitical conflicts in Israel and surrounding areas, Israelis have been all but forced to aggressively pursue military engineering and related tech research. With a culture and history that favors the pursuit of better technology, it’s not hard to see why so many modern Israelis make entrepreneurship a major priority.
The culture of Israel also promotes the idea of individual responsibility and accountability. People are encouraged to vocalize their opinions and question things; they’re even encouraged to challenge authority and the status quo when need be. People in Israel have a deep sense of personal accountability and loyalty to their country; accordingly, they’re often drawn to create their own businesses, challenge the norms, and take risks for the sake of their future, their families, and even their local communities. This attitude is ideal for developing new tech startups.
Israeli entrepreneurs aren’t just interested in financial gain, of course. In Israel, the concepts of Judaism heavily influence everyday life. One of those concepts, Tikkun Olam (or, the “repair of the world”) encourages people to behave in a way that’s constructive and beneficial for the entire community. Accordingly, many Israeli entrepreneurs intentionally start businesses to benefit society overall; they want to provide jobs to people in their communities and products that can help people all over the world.
These natural advantages make up for Israel’s relatively small size and scarcity of natural resources. It’s no wonder why so many promising tech startups have emerged there in recent years.
Key Lessons to Learn
If you’re a tech entrepreneur in Israel or elsewhere, hoping to build a massively successful business of your own, there are several important takeaways you can glean here.
- Communities are powerful for entrepreneurs. While it’s possible for a tech startup to become successful practically anywhere, the odds are in your favor if you start a business in an area that incentivizes and supports entrepreneurship. Access to grants, mentorship, and even rivalries are all beneficial.
- Disruption can happen in countless ways. As you can see in this short list of disruptive Israeli startups, you can disrupt almost any field with new technology. By utilizing machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), you can automate, improve, or better understand almost anything.
- Success depends on your mentality. Part of the reason Israel has so many entrepreneurs is because it has people who pride themselves on personal accountability, loyalty, and community support. These mentalities make it easier to start and manage successful businesses, and lend themselves to a more supportive network of entrepreneurial support overall.
Regardless of whether you’re interested in starting a tech business of your own or you’re just interested in observing the latest business developments, it pays to remain informed about the most innovative and disruptive tech companies emerging around the world. As you scout for the latest entrepreneurs to emerge from Silicon Valley, make sure you expand your horizons, and keep an eye on entrepreneurial communities in other countries—especially Israel, which has one of the most impressive tech startup scenes in the world.