13 Daniels students visit Israel as part of global entrepreneurship course

In the span of one week in December, Joshua Ross, director of Entrepreneurship@DU, found himself in two distinct places, separated by 7,000 miles and 13,000 feet in elevation.

A trip skinning to the top of the Mary Jane area at Winter Park Ski Resort was preceded by an eye-opening trip to the Dead Sea with a group of 13 Daniels College of Business students, part of an entrepreneurial adventure to Israel.

The interterm trip was the culmination of Ross’ quarter-long class on global entrepreneurship. During the fall, students learned about business practices in Israel and around the world. The choice to travel to Israel during the December break was intentional; the nation has rapidly become an entrepreneurial powerhouse and shares connections with Denver.

“My intent and goal for putting this all together was for our students in the entrepreneurship program to get a better understanding for entrepreneurship outside of the United States,” Ross said. “There is no better place to go visit and study entrepreneurship, businesses and culture than Israel, which is the No. 2 startup community in the world, behind Silicon Valley.”

Before arriving in Israel, students learned about the country’s history and the factors contributing to its entrepreneurial rise. They were also tasked with preparing a presentation on one of the cultural or business sites planned for the trip. And, in October, as part of Entrepreneurship Week, Entrepreneurship@DU hosted a discussion with local and international speakers to dive deep into Israel’s past, present and entrepreneurial future.

“The three-part speaker series (in October) was a nice way for our audience, our students and our community to get a broad perspective on what’s going on in Israel and what’s next,” Ross said.

With all that background work, students arrived in Israel on Dec. 3, with a strong understanding of the local culture and an appetite for more. While in Israel, they visited cultural sites like the Dead Sea and Jerusalem’s Old City, along with businesses like Hazera, an agricultural seed company, and Stratasys, a 3D printing giant founded by University of Denver alumnus David Reis (MBA 1993).

Entrepreneurship@DU students in Israel

They also visited the Advanced Technologies Park, a real estate technology development that is led by Or Santo, a featured speaker at DU’s Entrepreneurship Week event on entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel.

Anna Kearney, one of the 13 students to go on the trip, said the week taught her the differences between business culture in Israel and the U.S.

“Everyone we met was so passionate about what they were doing and really felt value in it,” she said. “I think a lot of times, in the United States, people end up doing jobs they are not passionate about. I will remember how much enjoyment can come from doing something you are actually passionate about.”

While this was the first trip of its kind for Entrepreneurship@DU, Ross said he’s hopeful these sorts of experiences will be offered in the future.

“Our goal is to do this trip every winter interterm moving forward, and our goal is to go to Israel,” he said. “It was so successful from a learning and engagement perspective for faculty and students that I don’t see a reason why we wouldn’t do it going forward.”

This trip was made possible by a generous gift from Michael (BSBA 1980) and Kathy (BSBA 1980) Azeez. While at the University, Michael majored in real estate and construction management and Kathy majored in hospitality and restaurant management.

As she reflected on the trip, Kearney strongly recommended that her undergraduate peers take advantage of these global adventures.

“This was a week I will never forget,” she said. “I was able to learn about a different culture and business, gain closer friendships with other fellow students and professors, and get out of my comfort zone!”