Published On: Sat, Jan 16th, 2016

Two Israelis Entrepreneurs help build a startup scene in a tiny country Moldova

PhonixIT cofounders Yossi Forkush and Hagai Goldovsky

 

When Yossi Forkush and Hagai Goldovsky, two tech savvy Israelis, land in the minute airport of Kishinev, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, the fact that there is no security in the main entrance, strike them as one of the signs they are not in Israel any more.

This is only one of the issues they deal with when coming to visit their R&D centre, which is already named “little Google”.

A year ago, they left secured positions in management earning respectable salaries and enjoying the perks of a steady job.

Hagai, then 31-year-old, married with six children, a sound engineer and a musician, served at the time as the CTO in an Israeli TV channel, where he met Yossi, who was the CEO of the channel.

Yossi, 43-year-old at the time, had just finished building his 3rd successful venture and was at a crossroad. “After 18 years building success for other people, I felt it’s time to create my own thing”.

As fate intended perhaps, Hagai was at the same point in his life.

“I felt something burning inside of me, and I realized I have to make a move for something to happen. I then quit my job without any safety net and I knew the first person I’m calling is Yossi”.

After a long night of beers and cigarettes, they decided to make a leap of faith and create their own venture, the question was what should it be?

When Hagai brought up the fact his father was a representative of the Jewish Agency to Moldova, Yossi responded immediately “where is Moldova?”

Moldova, is an Eastern European country and former Soviet republic, bordered by Romania and Ukraine. The poorest country in Europe.

After a first trip to the tiny and unknown republic they fell in love with the people and abundance of opportunities.

 

PhonixIT offices in Moldova

 

A few months later they launched PhonixIT, in 300 square meters of  space with Israeli management and soon their Israeli “chutzpah” started to attract local talents and Israeli clients.

The company focused on B2B services for Israeli communications and technology companies.

Soon, the demand for a local workforce to cater to the Israeli start-up scene, made them understand they had struck gold.

As they started to research the IT scene in Moldova, they found out a perfect match for the Israeli start-up needs.

In Israel, the second largest start-up ecosystem in the world after Silicon Valley, there are more than 7, 000 tech companies and a huge shortage of developers, and many of the early stage start-ups are limited by budget and time to market.

As Hagai and Yossi found out, in Moldova the tech scene is rising with more than 2000 new computer science graduates each year and an additional 8, 000 graduate engineering and mathematics studies.

“We found out the guys in Moldova are excited to work for the Israeli start-up scene, they are eager to learn and to be challenged, also they are hard workers looking for innovation and influence” says Yossi, CEO and co-founder.

Hagai, COO and co-founder ads: “our vision is not just to build another IT services company, we want PhonixIT to bring the Israeli “out of the box” thinking and create for our employees the conditions that will help them create the next generation of innovation in Moldova, using Israeli methodologies and create a community of tech entrepreneurs”.

In a very short time, Yossi and Hagai, with very little resources, managed to build a team including A players from the Israeli tech community, including figures from IBM, AMDOCS, NICE and more.  Their out-of-the-box way of thinking also influenced the way the company attracts local talent, using humorous viral campaigns, and offering high profile projects for Israeli start-ups in fields such as: cyber security, the intent of things, E-commerce and more.

“We are very excited about the future” says Yossi, “we feel we have a great opportunity to connect the dots, we are all in it, meeting with high ranked figures in both Israel and Moldova and everyone is excited about the possibilities”.

Back on the plane to Israel, they look outside the small round airplane window, with a strong belief they just left a land big with opportunity, and in another two hours they will again be sitting meetings in Silicon-Wadi, connecting another Israeli start-up to the next big out-sourcing hub. Keep it up guys!

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