This December, Entrepreneurship@DU students ventured to Israel, one of the world’s biggest communities for startups and unicorns.
Despite its small size, Israel has left a massive mark on the global entrepreneurial landscape. With a population just above 9 million, you could fit the entire country within the state of New Jersey. It is also one of the youngest countries in the world: the modern state of Israel was established in 1948. Regardless, the country has produced 92 “unicorns,” or startups that have reached a valuation of $1 billion or more.
The Entrepreneurship@DU Israel interterm course gave students the chance to learn firsthand what it is that makes Israeli entrepreneurs and startups so unique.
After taking Global Entrepreneurship (EVM 2200) during fall quarter to learn about Israel in a classroom setting, students set off for their trip. After 14+ hours in the air, students and faculty arrived in Jerusalem on Saturday, Dec. 3. Jetlagged and eager to be back on land, the group enjoyed a fabulous dinner in Jerusalem.
The next morning, the Entrepreneurship@DU team explored the Old City in Jerusalem through an intensive walking tour. Walking through the streets gave students the chance to absorb authentic Israeli history, contextualizing the entrepreneurial culture that the small nation exudes. Of course, booming startups are not all Israel is famous for — its beaches, such as the Kalia Beach, are stunning destinations. Students and faculty enjoyed a swim and a relaxing afternoon at the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.
Monday, Dec. 5, kicked off the educational portion of the trip. Students had the chance to tour two prominent companies: Hazera, an international agricultural and seed company with its headquarters in Israel; and Stratasys, an American-Israeli manufacturer of 3D printers, software and materials. Stratasys was founded by DU alum David Reis , making the tour even more significant for the group.
Tuesday, Dec. 6, was a special day for the Entrepreneurship@DU cohort. The group visited Yemin Orde, a prominent youth village founded in 1953 to accommodate waves of immigrants to the country. Many individuals orphaned during the Holocaust sought refuge to Israel, and Yemin Orde has been serving at-risk Israeli youth ever since. Students and faculty toured the village, explored its sustainable Eco-Farm, and admired its famous statue garden. Later in the day, the group ventured to Tel Aviv and toured the famous Market’s and took a cooking class, where they learned how to prepare authentic Israeli cuisine.
Wednesday, December 7 was another full day of traveling for the group. Destinations included . Old Akko is one of the most distinctive cities in the world—it shelters sacred sights of four faiths: Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Baha’i. Akko’s Old City is also one of the world’s 971 designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
On Thursday, Dec. 8, the Entrepreneurship@DU cohort took one last company tour at Netafim, where precision irrigation technologies are innovating in the world of agriculture. After the tour, the group went to Ben Gurion University visit the Yazamut 360° Entrepreneurship Center. There, the group watched presentations on BGU’s student-led communities. Then, it was time to visit the Advanced Technologies Park to attend a presentation on Desertech from Sharon Goldberg. The ATP is a massive real estate and technological development being overseen by Or Santo, who was a featured speaker at DU’s Entrepreneurship Week.
Friday, Dec. 9, was the E@DU team’s last full day of their interterm adventure. The day was informative and immersive: the group watched a panel at the world-renowned Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and then took a tour of the beautiful facilities on the Jaffa coast.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. After a rich week of exploring, education and excitement, the cohort boarded their plane on Saturday, Dec. 10. Though the trip was brief, the extraordinary memories and entrepreneurial lessons will endure.
“It was a wonderful opportunity to spend a week with our students learning about the history, the culture and how Israel became the number two startup community in the world,” Joshua Ross said. “Everyone we met on our journey was so giving of their time, knowledge, and experience—this made the trip truly special. I believe our students will remember and be impacted by this experience for the rest of their lives. I know that I will.”