ESRA Magazine
ESRAmagazine categories

Scale-Up Nation

198-scaleup ESRA Modiin Vice-Chair Judy Golub thanking the panel (from left) Aaron Zucker, Frayda Laufer Leibtag, Elliot Zimmelman, Yonit Golub Serkin and Ely Razin

 ESRA Scale-Up Nation Panel Event began with opening words from Evelynne Cherney, chairperson of Modiin and from Baruch Tanaman, Chairman of National ESRA. The Moderator, Elliot Zimmelman, was then introduced. He is Senior Associate at Frontier Marketing Communications and has a journalistic background.

The panelists, Frayda Laufer Leibtag, Yonit Golub Serkin, Ely Razin, and Aron Zucker, spoke about their fields of enterprise, and their overview of modern business today was enlightening.

We have all heard of 'Start-up Nation,' and many of us may even understand what that means, but after a brief explanation we understood better what it means in modern business terms. It is basically an individual or company who has an idea to produce a product but needs help, mostly financial, in order to develop it and succeed. This may well be an incubator in a university research department.

Israel 's population is a source of creative and innovative young people with energy, brainpower, and motivation. In Israel there is one start-up for every 1,400 people, and 1,300 start-ups come into existence every year. After a few years the start-up company may be sold to a larger company at great profit.

There comes a point when the start-up company must decide to expand and grow, when it would then become a scale-up company, and the challenges and difficulties would considerably increase. Not many Israeli scale-up companies are successful.

The situation today

We see today more 'multiple founders,' entrepreneurs who have failed once or twice and started again. Each time they gain more experience and have learned from their mistakes. They have become more capable.

An 'Accelerator' brings people together and helps them to develop their enterprises. More than that—Israelis seem to be well connected in major cities around the world. Many people come to Israel from abroad because we know how to grow a major company, and this helps with exporting.

The challenges

Aron Zucker was asked what are the keys to help evolving to the next step. He explained that we seem to create amazing innovations that are of no use in the market. There is a need to understand what the general population or specialized company needs and create a solution for it.

One in 10 start-ups succeeds, so there is a high fail rate. The idea is to pick up on start-ups that reach a certain size. If the product is potentially ready to be manufactured and marketed –where does it find good well-trained staff? Israel is a small country with a lack of properly trained staff.

Ely Razin commented that the policy of any city should be to build buildings suitable to house such companies. Facilities such as specially designed properties and correct training must be available.

What should the next steps be? Business must grow, and today business is global. There are challenges. We are moving into a disorganized world of banks into which the public's money is being invested, but these same people have no idea of the risks bankers take when deciding where to invest the money.

He says that his company is trying to make the world a better place by ensuring that money is tracked.


Start-ups are 10% of the entire workforce and 35% are women. How does this affect the ordinary population? The two fastest growing sectors are Arabs and ultra- Orthodox, which are a small percentage. Individual needs are being catered for. For instance, an App on Amazon Cloud does not require a team, or even a computer, and is easy to build. Similarly, not a lot of skill is needed to manage apps on phones. Today anyone can operate the modern digital and electronic devices, and a formal degree isn't needed.

Yonit said that 10% of start-up founders in Israel are women. More funds have female decision makers who are also investors. Between 2009 and 2015 female-led companies raised investments worth less than what was raised by men, but they had higher revenues from their smaller investment.

Needs – training

Frayda questioned how qualified people can be retrained and expressed her belief that older people have much of their lifetime's experience to bring to any company. Ely quoted as a good example, the film The Intern with Robert De Niro playing a retired man who worked in a senior position, became a subordinate to a much younger female owner of a successful company. Ely believes that people looking for work must highlight their strengths, show a willingness to try new things, and have an open mind.

He stressed the importance of education and said that women have important roles in his company and he believed that women can be good leaders, adding that they are super effective at maximizing. But first, people must be well trained and this is a challenge for any company. He knows that many of his employees, having learned the ropes, will leave and start their own companies.

During the remainder of the evening the panelists answered questions and discussed various topics connected with start-up/scale-up, which gave the audience an interesting insight into the reality of what is happening out there.

Yonit's final comment was that she sees children growing up in Israel to become independent at an early age. They fight and push for what they want, they are always right, and when they grow up they are crazy enough to go out and start a new company. They fight for what is important but can't always succeed.

To conclude, Judy Golub, who had organized the event, thanked all the panel participants and helpers. She noted that 2019 will be the 40th Anniversary of ESRA's founding and she mentioned how much the ESRA organization gives to the wider community. She invited everyone to look out for activities taking place to mark the anniversary, and to support the outstanding work that ESRA does.

The Panel

The panel participants all live in Modiin and they are a line-up of various backgrounds and experiences. Each member of the panel spoke about his or her work in their company.

Frayda Laufer Leibtag: Director of Public Affairs for WeWork Israel, managing media, government relations and impact initiatives in Israel; she has served as Senior Advisor for Foreign Affairs and International Media to Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat. Her varied and interesting background and experience have led her to manage the public affairs of her company WeWork. WeWork is a company based in New York, and today has some 300 buildings in 73 cities worldwide that provide 'collaborative work spaces' in a community environment for anyone who works at home, but sometimes needs office space. With the current trend for on-line business, one doesn't have to leave home. The downside to this is that people are becoming isolated. WeWork is bringing people back into personal contact with each other, and they find that they enjoy being independent and 'going to work' in pleasant surroundings.

Ely Razin: CEO CrediFi, a commercial real estate data provider, based in Israel and New York. Ely has served as global head of board governance for Thomson Reuters Accelus and head of Business Law for Thomson Reuters. He spoke about the money technology credit card and the flow of money in commercial real estate— which includes shopping malls, apartment or office buildings that are rented and such. He told us that if beginners in this field don't understand the risks involved, or start to panic, the markets could collapse. He said that his company works with commercial real estate finance, and tracks data on money flowing in and out of the market. He helps clients to understand what is going on in the market. For the future? Selling businesses around the world is good at present.

Yonit Golub Serkin: Managing Director, MassChallenge Israel, connecting high-impact companies to leading corporates, philanthropists, and stakeholders. A founder of Moonscape Ventures, she has served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Economic Development for Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Yonit told us that her company began in 2008. Start-ups could begin in someone's garage at home, or in a university laboratory. She said that 250,000 people work in innovation in Israel. Many of them learned their skills either during military service or while at university. But, it is difficult to continue to innovate if the numbers stay static. They must focus on increasing. She described a four-month Accelerator Program, designed to help personnel to find their way and how to attract people

Aaron Zucker: leads Sapir Venture Partners, supporting innovative Israeli entrepreneurs; a serial entrepreneur turned investor, he is on the founding teams of five companies commercializing university-developed IP, creating positive change with cutting edge science and technology across industries and around the globe. Sapir Venture Partners is a mentorship-driven investment company that employs personnel who have already been founders. They want to create foundations for long term growth. The market here in Israel will always be small. What is missing between start-up and scale-up is experience. Those fortunate enough to work and gain experience abroad and return after several years will be able to bridge the gap.



No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Sunday, 21 April 2024

Captcha Image


MagazineIsrael- 2019-homepage
There are pockets of coexistence
which kindle hope.
Old cities and very new cities with amazing stories
Find out about the Israeli art scene
The best tours in Israel with ESRA members