Entrepreneurship Starts in Kindergarten
Did you ever think there might be a link between the number of rules at your childhood playground and how “entrepreneurial” you grew up to be? Well, Inbal Arieli, the author of Chutzpah: Why Israel Is a Hub of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, believes there is a direct correlation between the two. Speaking recently at a TAU entrepreneurship event, she intrigued and inspired the audience with her surprising ideas.
Arieli, who is a triple Tel Aviv University alumna (LL.B. in Law, B.A. in Economics, and an MBA), gave the lecture at the yearly kick-off event of TAU’s Ignite Entrepreneurship Club at the Coller School of Management, where she addressed a mixed audience of TAU Israeli and international students as well as a delegation of aspiring entrepreneurs from Austria.
“I think the answer to why Israel is such a laboratory of innovation and entrepreneurship begins with the way Israelis raise their children,” began Arieli, herself a serial company founder and a mother of three. “Our willingness to make mistakes and, even more importantly, to allow our children to make them builds resiliency and creativity, and eventually leads to amazing inventions,” she said.
In her lectures and book, Arieli takes the audience on a journey through Israeli childhood, from infancy to military service, in which she finds a surprising resemblance to the lifecycle of a business in its different stages: scale, efficiency, validation, discovery, renewal and sustainability.
“Skills like risk-taking, creativity, resourcefulness and teamwork are not learned in the classroom. They are developed during a person’s formative years and largely depend on the surrounding social environment,” she said, concluding the lecture.
Ignite, where Arieli spoke, is a student-run entrepreneurship club that provides students and alumni the opportunity to explore an entrepreneurial path as part of the TAU on-campus experience. The Austrian delegation that joined the event came on a business trip organized by Gin, a global incubator network connecting start-ups in Austria and the world, and in conjunction with the Austrian embassy in Tel Aviv.
“I have been to Israel many times and I am fascinated by the country’s energy and its ‘can-do’ attitude,” said Thomas Walbert, the event’s co-organizer from the Austrian delegation, who works as Innovation Manager at the Austrian Postal Service and is a mentor at Gin. “I love and live the Israeli spirit: chutzpah, balagan, tachles, yallah–and nobody captures these characteristics better than Inbal Arieli,” he added.
The TAU Edge
Following the lecture, Arieli answered a few questions regarding the role of universities in teaching entrepreneurship. “I believe it’s best taught in practice. In that regard, the role of universities is to provide a setting where students can initiate projects and bring them to life,” she said.
“TAU has made incredible progress in introducing soft skills and multidisciplinary approaches to create a diversified environment that best nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Prof. Moshe Zviran, Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer at TAU, explained the steps TAU has taken to achieve this: "TAU's ecosystem operates through two main channels: equipping all students on campus with relevant knowledge on entrepreneurship and innovation, and actively supporting ventures initiated by students, faculty and alumni in a very broad range of disciplines.”
TAU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, both on and off campus, includes TAU's Entrepreneurship Center, TAU Ventures, the Coller Startup Competition, Ramot – TAU’s tech transfer company, TAU Innovation Labs, and a new accelerator program which will be unveiled soon.
Arieli pointed to TAU Ventures, a unique venture capital fund that invests in early-stage startups, as a great example of how TAU “is not only talking about but actually providing the relevant frameworks, including funding.”
As a result, TAU consistently ranks as a leading global university producing entrepreneurs. “For example, the latest Pitchbook Ranking ranked TAU 7th in the world and 1st outside the USA in the number of alumni entrepreneurs who have founded companies backed by venture capital,” concluded Dr. Eyal Benjamin, the academic director of Ignite.
-by Sveta Raskin