In 2021, the Israeli tech ecosystem forged an indelible mark on the global stage, securing an extraordinary $27 billion in venture capital investments. This remarkable achievement, as reported by the Israel Innovation Authority, a government agency, not only shattered previous records but also defied the prevailing trends in venture capital funding. While the last two years witnessed a dip in VC funding for Israeli startups, echoing global patterns, the nation has demonstrated an unparalleled resilience and remains an unequivocal choice for technology investment.
Amidst the challenges and uncertainties, Israeli companies stand as exemplars of operational resilience, showcasing an ability to not only weather storms but to thrive and redefine success in the dynamic landscape of the tech sector. Gal Biran, founder of Base.ai shares, the unwavering priority to ensure safety and wellbeing of his team is critical. Collaboratively, with the entire team, steps were taken to ensure minimal impact on customers and the business, epitomizing a dedication to operational resilience. Despite the uncertainties, Israeli companies emerge as exemplars of not just weathering storms, but thriving and redefining success in the dynamic tech landscape. This narrative echoes the deeper ethos that transcends business metrics—a testament to the resilience, humanity, and adaptability inherent in the Israeli tech sector.
Navigating Through Adversity
Israel’s thriving tech sector, resilient through past crises like financial downturns and the Covid-19 pandemic, faces a unique challenge due to the recent war triggered by the Hamas assault. The conflict, resulting in over 1,300 casualties in Israel, has disrupted daily life, leading to the closure of schools, deserted streets in Tel Aviv, and numerous businesses shutting down. This time, the impact on the country’s pivotal industry is distinctive, with closures attributed not only to security concerns but also to employees being called up for military service.
The most immediate repercussion of the war on tech companies is evident in the workforce. Israel has mobilized over 300,000 military reservists to participate in the conflict, primarily individuals who were working and studying within the country, with a few returning from overseas.
According to SNC’s estimates, approximately 10% of tech personnel in Israel have been conscripted, and in certain companies, this figure has surged to as high as 30%. Despite the challenges of conflict, the industry remains a crucial lifeline, drawing unwavering support from seasoned investors dedicated to helping the nation rebuild.
This solidarity is evident in the global tech community’s response, with over 500 VC funds signing a “Statement of Support” for Israeli startups, entrepreneurs, and investors. Recognizing Israel’s role in the global innovation ecosystem, the statement reflects a collective commitment to stand by the country and its people.
Tech companies themselves have exemplified unity, setting aside differences with the government to contribute to the war effort. From procuring vital equipment for soldiers to leveraging expertise in AI and cybersecurity, the industry demonstrates a cohesive response in coming together.
The Impact On Business—Becoming Resilient Through Change
In the midst of navigating war, tech founders are exemplifying resilience in unprecedented ways. A poignant reflection comes from one CEO who encapsulates the essence of operational resilience while nurturing a thriving company. “At the end of the day, we’re here to build a thriving company. And it becomes extremely harder in a time when every employee is affected by the atrocities we all experienced,” says, Ittay Hayut, Co-founder & CEO of hoopo.
In the face of adversity, these leaders recognize the paramount role they play in supporting their employees emotionally and caring for their wellbeing. Their unwavering commitment is clear: to maintain success, they must prioritize the people who make it all possible—their workforce. This commitment manifests in tangible ways, with CEO at hoopo, noting the humbling instances of employees rallying together. Whether it’s witnessing acts of mutual assistance or the proactive stance of the US team, demanding more tasks to support their Israeli colleagues, the collective strength of the workforce stands out.
“I know we will keep innovating and creating value and change in the world while we stand strong – as a nation, in startups, and as individuals,” said Gal Biran, the CEO and Co-Founder of Base.ai, a MarTech company designed to deliver a designated customer marketing platform helping B2B organizations create personalized lifecycle engagement with their customer base at scale.
Surprisingly, amidst the challenges, these tech companies are experiencing a surge in output that surpasses expectations. Both Gal Biran CEO and Co-Founder of Base.ai and Ittay Hayut, the Co-founder & CEO at hoopo attributes this to the team’s resilience and determination to push forward, viewing it not just as a response to adversity but as a real triumph against terror. This narrative showcases a broader theme in the tech industry, where the spirit of unity and perseverance emerges as a powerful force against the backdrop of global challenges.
Building Community And Driving Toward Organizational Change
Many founders are standing at the forefront, navigating the intersection of innovation and operational resilience. Israeli founders are prioritizing the safety and wellbeing of their teams. In an interview, with a few Israeli tech founders, many highlighted the second level of action—creating operational resilience and business continuity—is integral to their strategic approach.
With a global team, half of whom are based outside of Israel, Gal and his team have successfully minimized the impact on both customers and business operations.
Talia Soen, the Co-Founder and CEO of Happy Things, took decisive action, embodying the transformative power of Israeli founders. When the devastating events of October 7th unfolded, Soen swiftly shifted her focus from startup operations to hands-on involvement in civil volunteering initiatives. The mission was clear: to actively contribute to the community’s immediate needs, from purchasing food to assisting in shipping and aiding survivors’ camps.
Harnessing the unique capabilities of Happy Things—a mental health app—Soen and her team provided their product free of charge to all those in Israel, recognizing the profound impact of mental well-being during trying times. This proactive response reflected not only a commitment to their product but also a dedication to the broader societal fabric.
In the face of frozen company processes—halted hiring, slowed recruitment, and paused development projects due to widespread military engagement—Soen acknowledged the mental toll reminiscent of the early pandemic days. Yet, undeterred, Happy Things pressed on, navigating the challenges with resilience reminiscent of Israel’s national spirit.
Fundraising, an inherently complex task for startups, assumed a unique dimension for Happy Things. Soen, unapologetically prefacing meetings with the stark reality of potential bomb alarms, showcased the grit and determination necessary for startups navigating uncharted territories.
In this moment of adversity, the global tech community’s outpouring of support provided a heartening backdrop, exemplifying the strength derived from a united network. The story of Happy Things underlines not only the challenges but also the unyielding spirit and collective resilience that define Israeli founders, showcasing that, even amid turmoil, their commitment to innovation and community remains unwavering.
5 Lessons To Embody From Israeli Tech Founders
Operational Resilience: Israeli founders showcase the importance of operational resilience in the face of adversity. Being prepared for unforeseen challenges and having a flexible strategy allows a startup to navigate turbulent times with resilience.
Community Engagement: Actively engaging with and supporting the community during times of crisis is a lesson from Israeli founders. Whether it’s contributing to civil volunteering efforts or providing essential services, fostering a strong connection with the community enhances both social impact and company reputation.
Prioritizing Mental Health: Talia Soen’s example highlights the significance of prioritizing mental health. In the tech sector, where work can be demanding, acknowledging and addressing the mental well-being of employees is crucial for sustaining productivity and fostering a positive work culture.
Adaptability and Innovation: The Israeli tech industry’s ability to adapt and innovate, even amid challenging circumstances, provides a valuable lesson. Founders should cultivate a culture of adaptability, encouraging their teams to think creatively and pivot when necessary.
Global Network and Solidarity: Building a global network and fostering a sense of solidarity within the tech community is essential. The support garnered by Israeli startups from international colleagues during times of crisis demonstrates the strength derived from a connected and supportive global network. Founders should actively cultivate relationships beyond borders to navigate challenges collectively.
In conclusion, In the midst of adversity, these insights from Israeli founders illuminate the roadmap for tech entrepreneurs worldwide, demonstrating that in the relentless pursuit of innovation, operational resilience becomes not just a necessity but a transformative force, capable of steering companies through the storms of uncertainty with unwavering strength and purpose.