Our final day in Tel Aviv was bittersweet, as we knew our incredible journey was coming to an end. We started the day meeting at YL Ventures, a venture capital (VC) firm like many in Israel that focused on early-stage investing. I was astounded that while the US was trending towards less early/seed-stage capital and much more later-stage investments, Israel seemed to embrace their unique VC ecosystem.
Today was our second to last day of this trip. Heading out the hotel door at 8:30, we went to our first destination for the day, Caesarea. This is an ancient Roman and Byzantine city that was designed and created by Harrod.
As our sixth full day in Israel comes to a close, I find myself already reflecting on the trip two days before we fly home. Being here has opened my eyes up to not only the differences between the United States and Israel, but the similarities we share as well.
And on the fifth day there was light! Up until this point in our trip, our understanding of what makes Israel’s startup culture unique was almost entirely secondhand. That all changed today with our visits to a couple of successful Israeli “startups,” and to an organization that is committed to building stronger business ties between Israeli and the US.
This is the start of our fourth full day in Israel. The pace is intense. By observing the culture of Jerusalem, the West Wall, and the Dead Sea we are starting to understand the nation and its people. The reoccurring sight of armed police and soldiers started to get routine until we went to the border with Jordan yesterday and witnessed the live mine fields which brought the reality of past despair, suffering, and a feeling of isolation knowing that there were three more borders (Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt) not including the chaos in the Gaza Strip and to a lesser extent the West Bank.
Our third day in Israel consisted largely of traveling from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, with a few stops and detours along the way. The day included both visits to common attractions in Israel as well as sojourns to lesser-known areas.
After travelling to the West Bank and driving past the historical site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, we began with a brief excursion at Ein Gedi, a nature reserve in the midst of the desert. Although we did not stay long, we hiked through the reserve, visited a small waterfall with an ancient biblical legend associated with it, and were introduced to some of the local wildlife on the hike.
Conveying the level of exuberance that was felt as I opened my hotel curtains on Friday morning may be a tough task. I fear that this remarkable amount of excitement may not resonate with the readers who do not have the pleasure of being faced with this breathtaking view of Jerusalem. Today marks the weekly holiday of Shabbat, where people come together with their loved ones to celebrate their unconditional bond with each other.
Our first full day in Israel was very busy and full of enlightening experiences. After only about 24 hours here, I am amazed at the versatility of the country. There is a huge focus on development of the next big technology and the future, yet as we toured Jerusalem, we experienced over 2000 years of history that brings together people of all backgrounds, ages and experiences.
This morning, CCEI’s eight “Winter in Israel” students arrived in Tel Aviv to be welcomed by CCEI Managing Director Michelle Cote and adjunct professor and Partner at Hinckley Allen, Daniel Gottfried. These students will spend the next 10 days traveling through Israel and learning from leaders in technology, business, visiting government offices, large high tech enterprises, venture capital investors, technology accelerators, and academic institutions.
Although I doubt the temperature rose above freezing, I spent this past weekend in Paris. I saw the obvious sights such as the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. Continue Reading