Welcome

Pace University’s Professors Bruce Bachenheimer and Eric Kessler led a group of 10 graduate and undergraduate students to Israel to meet with various entrepreneurs and see innovative companies firsthand. This is my take on the places we visited.

-Eli Shulman

Schedule (including direct links to each post):

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Farewell Reception

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When: Friday morning, 11:00 am
Where: Bariba restaurant, 3 Hataarucha Street, Tel Aviv

Who:

Pace alumni:

  • General Avi Mizrahi
  • Ilan Aisic
  • Eran Frenkel
  • Eric Klein
  • Yoram Levinson

Our farewell reception took place at a restaurant right along the sea inside the old port.  The entrance was through a beauty salon (not your typical American restaurant entrance).    We got to hear briefly from several Israeli entrepreneurs that are also Pace alumni.  Additionally, we got to publicly thank Professor Matalon for helping arrange our trip and accompanying us on many visits.  Last but not least, we got to thank our professors for orchestrating and leading a memorable trip.

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Tel Aviv University

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When: Thursday afternoon, 3:00 pm
Where: Tel Aviv University, Engineering School, Professor Ayla Matalon’s Thursday afternoon Entrepreneurial class
WWW: www.tau.ac.il/index-eng.html
Who: Professor Ayla Matalon; Dr. Ed Mlavsky; Professor Bruce Bachenheimer

We attended a class on entrepreneurial studies together with 15-20 Tel Aviv University MBA students. We got to meet some of the Israeli students, most of whom have been in the army!  I sat next to David Glauber who works at CheckPoint, the famed security company started by ex-army buddies from Unit 8200, which offers firewall services to a majority of Fortune 100 companies.

Professor Matalon opened the class by talking about Jeffrey Moore’s book, “Crossing the Chasm”, which actually had been referred to us that morning by Amir Milo at Carmel Ventures.  Dr. Ed Mlavsky then spoke about the various programs initiated by the government to spark entrepreneurship.  Professor Bachenheimer then closed with a look at current entrepreneurial needs.  A lively discussion ensued over a much-needed update to the current pill bottle.

It was interesting to note that the lectures and discussions were all conducted in English.  My new friend, David, explained to me that since Israel has such a small population and does not trade with its immediate neighbors, young entrepreneurs are taught in English because, “The market is in America”.

It was a peaceful was to end the academic portion of the trip.

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Carmel Ventures

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When: Thursday morning, 10:00 am
Where: 12 Abba Eban Avenue, Ackerstein Towers Bldg. D, Herzliya, 11th floor
WWW: www.carmelventures.com
Who: Noam Band, co-founder, Dotomi and CEO, Timest; Amir Milio, CEO, Equivo

In contrast to many of the places that we visited throughout the week, Carmel Ventures is situated in a multi-story office complex, the kind more usually associated with Manhattan than Israel.  The sleek elevator whisked us up to the eleventh floor and as we stepped out into the plush foyer one of my classmates commented, “You can smell the money in here.”  The view out the window of the conference room was a magnificent overlook of the city with the Mediterranean in the background.  From our vantage point we saw many construction projects underway.  These and the many others we had seen throughout the country prompted the observation that, “Israel is under construction.”

Noam Band described his previous company, Dotomi.  Dotomi specializes in personal banners based on individual tastes and interests.  For example, a consumer may see a message, “Steve, you have ten thousand miles, and a trip to the Bahamas will cost you $300.”  The ad is generated on the individual’s own computer and is not stored on any internet website.  The class asked numerous questions about privacy concerns and Noam explained how the whole thing is based on ID numbers and the ads are only generated on each individual’s computer, so the company has been given a certificate that they are not violating privacy rights.

Dotomi’s clients are corporate giants such as VISA, American Express, and several prominent airlines.  The professor asked how a small Israeli software company managed to catch the attention of such big corporate giants.  Noam replied that he used a good deal of Israeli chutzpah and did not give up.  He then advised us to not feel shy or embarrassed by people we don’t know and to feel comfortable sending an email even to top executives.  “If relevant, you will get in.”

Noam is now the CEO at Timest which assigns a Rollout Readiness Risk Rating to companies implementing new software.  Corporate IT departments are proficient at developing and testing software, but are challenged by the implementation stage, because people don’t like change.  Timest performs various checks to test the readiness of the software deployment and advises the CEO on how to best position the company to buffer against people’s stubbornness to change.

Amir Milo spoke about his company, Equivio:  a software company focused on text analytics for e-discovery.  Essentially, they handle the multitudes of data that besiege our generation.  One way is by grouping similar documents to get rid of near duplicates.  Another way is by reconstructing email threads.  Interestingly, Amir suggested reading “Crossing the Chasm”, which was discussed by Professor Matalon at the Tel Aviv University class we attended later that day.

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MIT Enterprise Forum

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When: Wednesday evening, 6:00 pm
Where: Tel Aviv University, Recanati Business School, Room 404
WWW:www.mit-forum.org.il

Speakers:

  • Professor Ayla Matalon, executive director of MIT forum
  • Dr. Ed Mlavsky, president emeritus and chairman of MIT forum; founding partner of Gemini Israel Funds; manager of BIRD for 13 years
  • Zvi Yemini, co-founder and chairman of Hydro-Industries Ltd., an innovative consumer products company in the Hose Reel segment of the Outdoor Gardening market.
  • Ofer Shoshan, co-founder and CEO of One Hour Translation
  • Professor Bruce Bachenheimer, board member and past chapter chair, MIT Enterprise Forum of New York City; clinical professor of management, Pace University

A few of us accompanied Professors Bachenheimer and Kessler to the MIT Enterprise Forum event held in Tel Aviv University and chaired by Professor Ayla Matalon, our contact in Israel.  Ayla graciously coordinated the timing of the event to accommodate our schedule and allow Professor Bachenheimer to speak at the event.

Before the program began we had an opportunity to mingle with Israeli entrepreneurs.  I had the privilege of meeting Gavriel, who works at BioFeed, a company which has come up with a way to remove pests from plants without using traditional pesticides.  In today’s ecologically-conscious environment people are wary of using any type of spray, and BioFeed has innovated a device which the insects feed off of and then are unable to harm the crop.

The lectures were in typical Israeli fashion:  straightforward and blunt.  The speakers appeared quite comfortable at the podium as evidenced by the constant maneuvering of the microphones and Ofer’s jab at the placcard which was supposed to display his name, but instead showed the name of the previous speaker.

Admittedly, after a long day, I was not able to concentrate on much other than Professor Bachenheimer’s lecture which was quite energetic and concise.

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Objet

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When: Wednesday afternoon, 3:00 pm
Where: 2 Holtzman Street, Rehovot
WWW: www.objet.com
Who: Igal Zeitun, VP Product Marketing; Gilad Bet-Halevi, Regional Manager for Africa and Selected Countries in the Middle East

Objet is a leading provider of high quality, cost effective inkjet-based 3D printing systems and materials. A global company, Objet has offices in North America, Europe, Japan, China, Hong Kong, and India.

Objet’s 3D printing systems and 3D printing materials are ideal for any company involved in the manufacture or design of physical products using 3D software or other 3D content. Companies using Objet’s solutions can be typically found in sectors such as consumer goods & electronics, aerospace & defense, automotive, education, dental, medical and medical devices, architecture, industrial machinery, footwear, sporting goods, toys and service bureaus. (company website)

When I first heard about Objet, I was a little confused about what they do. Do they print on regular sheets of paper, just the ink appears in 3D, like a 3D movie? And would you need special glasses to read what they print? After a little explaining and then some discussion (I never saw the video clip but I heard about it) and then Justine’s report about the company I kind of got the picture. But hearing about it could not compare to actually seeing it in person. It was probably the most amazing place we visited.

Objet’s printers print objects! And, I must add, in exquisite detail. It is a cost-effective way for a manufacturing company to produce a prototype. We saw some really amazing samples that were printed in-house. The miniature Eiffel Tower was incredibly detailed; the sneaker sole was printed with different types of rubber. The “Test Board” is sort of like a Windows test page to see if the printer is aligned properly. The test board contains a variety of shapes and positions with which to test the compatibility between the computer software and the printer.

Here’s a link to a video that demonstrates the capabilities of the Objet260 Connex Multi Material 3D Printer.

One of the coolest things they printed was a memento for each of us to take home. It’s a small little clear-colored object with a blue inscription:

NY Pace
Visit to Objet
1.11.2011

(They got the year wrong but they must have printed them in advance of our visit, so it probably was 2011 when they printed it.) But the coolest thing about it are the 12 gears that are perfectly aligned with each other and turn simultaneously.

Here are pictures of some of their sample prototypes:

Photo Credit: David
Photo Credit: David
Photo Credit: Professor
Photo Credit: Justine
Photo Credit: Justine
Photo Credit: David
Photo Credit: Julie

Some more photos:

Professor Kessler with GiladProfessor Bachenheimer with Igal (photo credits: Julie)

A list of companies that have purchased Objet printers (photo credit: David)

An inside view of the print head (photo credit: Julie)

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Ormat Technologies

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When: Wednesday afternoon, 12:00 pm
Where: I’m not even sure, but I think it was the Ormat headquarters somewhere in Yavne, near kvish arba (highway #4)
WWW: www.ormat.com
Who: Lucien (Yehuda) Bronicki, Chairman and CTO

“Ormat Technologies Inc. (NYSE: ORA) is a world leader in the geothermal power plant sector… In addition to designing, developing, building, owning and operating geothermal energy and recovered energy-based power plants in the United States and other countries, Ormat also designs, manufactures and sells power units and other power generating equipment for geothermal power plants and recovered energy-based electricity generation.” (company website)

I couldn’t help but notice as we walked in that the place had a different feel than some of the buildings/manufacturing plants we had been to. It was almost like a trailer park. Small, single-story individual buildings with flat-roofed low ceilings were lined up side by side. Perhaps there was an airport nearby or more probably these were old army barracks used by the British before 1948. In any event, one of them housed our conference room.

Mr. Bronicki gave us a detailed overview of the geothermal energy business. He quoted David Ben-Gurion, one of Israel’s Founding Fathers, as having said back in the 1930s that two important technologies for Israel to develop would be solar energy and desalination because Israel has no natural oil deposits and minimal fresh water. It was remarkable to hear that sitting in a geothermal energy company’s office, having just gotten off the bus from the desalination plant.

It seems to be a family business as three members of the seven-member board have the last name Bronicki (It must be a common name lol) and the other four members are listed as “non-executive”.

He gave a fascinating lecture on the state of geothermal energy and how it applies in Israel, and Professor Kessler expressed our sentiments at the end by commenting on Mr. Bronicki’s ability to think broadly and dynamically. He responded that people should be interested in learning about things and should read books.

Photos:

Lucien Bronicki talking to our class (photo credit: Nikhil)

Professor Bachenheimer presenting Mr. Bronicki with “a little memento from New York” (photo credit: Julie)

Link: Click here for an article about Mr. Bronicki’s thoughts on the geothermal energy business

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