Want to start a business but don’t know where to set up? Ron Huldai (pictured, top) and Saul Singer (bottom, centre) presented a compelling case for Israel as the global hub of start-up tech firms. Mr Huldai, the mayor of Tel Aviv, said his city is home to 600 start-ups. More importantly, it also has one bar for every 200 residents. When packing for Tel Aviv, he advised, bring one pair of shorts for the beach. Bring another pair for business meetings. And forget about your brolly. You won’t need it in Tel Aviv.
Mr Singer has explored the reasons for Israels remarkable success in his book Start Up Nation. He presented a somewhat more rigorous argument than weather. What accounts for Israel’s 4,000-odd start ups (with another 500 being added every year) compared to no more than 800 in Europe? It’s not ideas, he said. Everybody has ideas. But you need two things to go from an idea to a company or a product.
The first is drive and determination. The second is a willingness to take risks. These traits are etched into the Israeli character, he said. The next step is to scale up from start-ups to big global companies. “We used to ask, ‘Where is our Nokia?’” he said. While Israeli start-ups may not look to Nokia anymore, the dream remains. Mr Singer suggested that one way to grow Israel’s companies is by focusing on solving big global problems, such as facilitating mobile payments.