/ By Yael Segev /
In recent years, Israel has been mentioned not only due its complicated geopolitical situation, but as the rising star of high tech industry. A turning point was the publication in 2009 of the international bestseller Start Up Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle by Dan Senor and Saul Singer. The book eloquently highlights those factors that made this small, embattled state the world’s new start up role model, branding Israel as an against-all-odds economic success.
Kenneth Alan Grossberg, professor of marketing and Director of the Waseda Marketing Forum at Waseda Business School in Tokyo, Japan, has been teaching cross-cultural management and global marketing innovation for many years. Grossberg came to recognize that the phenomenon described in Start Up Nation was something that non-Israelis could benefit from learning how a small country in a complicated environment has listed more companies on NASDAQ than any other nation in the world, other than the US. This is how the Start Up Nation Study Tour came to be.
The 2012 tour included participants from many contries, such as Japan, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and the US. This International group took the lessons back home with them to jumpstart their own businesses. Some of them agreed to tell us more about their personal experience. “It’s a fantastic learning experience”, says Mr. Shane Ohtsu, a high-ranking former officer of Hitachi. “I recommend the tour because it revolves not only about entrepreurship , but also presents you the special sights of this geographical region”. Another participant, Mr. R.Mansurov, was highly impressed by various creative solutions found by Israeli companies in order to resolve alllmost hopeless problems, “sometimes with minimal financial resources”, recalls Mansurov. Mr. Fegalo Mitee, head of Department, Rivers State Polytechnic at Bori Ogoni, Rivers State, Nigeria, has spent many years in the UK and the states, but the seven days tour inspired him a great deal. “The trip gave me a completely different perspective”, he says.
This summer (August 9-16, 2013) the Study Tour will be conducted for the second year in a row, in cooperation with the Galilee International Management Institute (GIMI). The intensive week-long program combines 1) visits to leading Israeli start up successes (OutBrain, Given Imaging and Amdocs) with 2) meetings with smaller and newer start ups that are still struggling to make it, and 3) organized tours to Israel’s major tourist destinations (Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa).
We asked Professor Grossberg about the added value of this tour.
– As an expert on corporate strategy and cross-cultural management, what are the main benefits of the 7 day tour ?
“The Start Up Nation Study Tour enables participants to experience vicariously the failures Israeli companies had to endure before they eventually succeed. It’s a lesson in unconventional thinking for non-Israelis and an opportunity for potential foreign investors to get a behind-closed-doors introduction to some of tomorrow’s big start up hits. When the tour members return to their home countries they can apply these lessons in their own firms. In one week they will learn more about effective strategy and doing more with less than in an entire term of MBA courses”.
– Is there an option to conduct an innovation workshop that may lead to joint business cooperation in the future?
“Networking is an important part of the Study Tour, and last year some participants stayed over after the tour was finished to revisit contacts they had just made or to explore other avenues related to their business. In the course of the Study Tour, we get presentations from CEOs of companies in which Q&A and sharing ideas is an important element”.