Last week at the Web Summit in Dublin a cohort of Zellots descended on the event…so many a reporter took the bait (initiated by Hagar Rips of Zell 8) andinterviewed a bunch!
Yonatan Raz Fridman, Zell 8 as well…and the founding chairman of the alumni organization, called the Zell Alumni Network wrote a post that I would love to share:
From Dublin with Love
In January this year I took a flight from Tel Aviv to London to build Kano Computing. this was after Liat Aaronson and Dror Ceder (Zell 7) introduced me to one of my co-founders. Before that, I had the privilege to work at Keter Plastic, where I succeeded Nimrod Bar-Levin (Zell 4) as executive assistant to the CEO of Keter. In between these two events I had the real honour and fun to build the Zell Alumni Network, but it would never happen without the help, support and partnership of other Zellots – Uri Haramati (Zell 5), Liat Mordechay-Hertanu (Zell 1), Vicky Halfon (Zell 9), Daphna Giniger (Zell 8), Yoni Blau (Zell 7), Liraz Shaharabani (Zell 7), Dror Ceder (Zell 7) and many others – all with the immense support of Liat. So as you can see, for me Zell is not just a program, it’s an ongoing experience.
Last week I attended the Dublin Web Summit for the first time. As I was just arriving, I noticed the Zell gang in prime time, on all fronts – Eyal Gura (Zell 2), venture partner at Pitango VCparticipating as a judge in one of the competitions; Zohar Dayan and Yotam Cohen (Zell 9) with Wibbitz; Liat Mordechay-Hertanu (Zell 1) with24me; Hagar Rips (Zell 8) with Yadwire; Uri Haramati (Zell 5) with Yevvo; Offir Gutelzon (Zell 2) with Keepy; Natasha Shine-Zirkel (Zell family) with Rounds;and myself (Zell 8) with Kano.More than 10% of the Israeli startups attending in Dublin are Zell-related. Yes, we all got used to the good publicity and feedback that the Zell program receives across Israel, in business, community, institutions, corporates and investors. All those who need to know about the Zell Program and its alumni – know.
However, there’s much work to be done to strengthen the ties between alumni, build sustainable relationships that will lead to business opportunities on top of the immense collegiality we feel just by being “Zellots”. With that in mind, let’s enjoy the statistics of Dublin:
* more than 10% of Israeli startups in Dublin were Zell-related.
* 3 out of 30 finalists in Dublin were Zell-related.
* 3 out of 8 Zellots in Dublin were women.
What does it mean?
* Diversity is key
A lot of people have a very clear perception of what makes one an entrepreneur, and what needs to happen for someone to be one – i.e. you “have” to start early, you “have” to start it yourself, you “have you “have” you “have”. So let’s look at the people involved in this story to understand diversity: Among the 8 Zellots in Dublin, we have Zellots who started a business immediately after graduating from Zell (Eyal, Offir, Hagar, Zohar, Yotam), Zellots who worked in corporate for several years and then started their first startup company (Uri, Liat, myself), Zellots who build a company, sold it, and moved to new things (Eyal, Offir), Zellots who started their company abroad (myself), Zellots who raised venture funds from global investors (Zohar and Yotam), ventures with a women-Zell-founder (Liat), Zellots who joined existing startups as leaders (Uri), and more.
* Coordination is necessary
I mean, seriously? it’s almost a crime that I had to discover so many Zellots in Dublin without knowing about it before. It totally makes sense that such a powerful network (that was asked to be interviewed and share the Zell-Dublin story) to be more coordinated so we can empower each other and tale our collective to the next level (someone said small Zell pavilion next year in Dublin?..)
* Uniqueness is in reach
People love stories. we all do. with less than 250 members, the Zell collective is probably one of the most special networks in business in Israel but also now expanding slowly into new territories (Kano, Formlabs, Gogobot and more, are all UK and/or US based Zellot startups).
* The Opportunity is real
Yes, it is. Not just for our own collective, but the for the broader collectives we are all part of, and every Zellots is part of another collective. but in order to make a big impact on our external collectives, we have the opportunity to focus, nurture and empower our Zell collective, one that can take a random Dublin summit (as big as it is) and make sure that we all get the attention, help each other, connect and introduce, cheer. We have a common faith – it’s one that is driven by building meaningful companies, creating real value for people, and show that Israel and Israelis can build great companies, now and in the future.
The Zell Entrepreneurship Program will soon celebrate its 13 years birthday. An achievement that is beyond the dreams of anyone that was involved in its inception. The fruits of that inception are only now starting to reach their time. They blossomed throughout the years, nurtured by the leaders of the program, supported by Sam Zell and empowered by its extraordinary alumni network.
Dublin was a milestone, and an important one, but it’s over now. The Zell collective of the future should look at this milestone and dream big, and being a Zellot means executing on our dreams. Period.