Israeli entrepreneurs face the same challenges all entrepreneurs face only 6,000 miles away from their primary market. To help address these challenges, the MIDC launched a binational accelerator to deliver The Lean Startup entrepreneurial training program in Israel, the same program used by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to train American entrepreneurs.
The MIDC partnered with the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) to recruit a cohort of 16 entrepreneurs to undergo an intensive three-day training program in Israel in February with NSF certified trainer Robert Storey and colleague, Chuck Montague, Ph.D. The training encompassed understanding the assumptions underlying the entrepreneurs’ technology and proposed business model and how to challenge, verify or expose the flaws in those assumptions by testing them against the real-time needs of potential customers.
Ten of the entrepreneurs then traveled to Baltimore in May for a two week, in-depth “customer discovery” experience where they met with possible customers, distributors, end-users and key opinion leaders to verify their technologies’ benefits in the market.
Hilik Harari, CEO of GaitBetter, a program participant, said, “I should have done this two years ago when I first started my company. It would have saved me a lot of time, money and headaches.”
The MIDC plans to continue the program with the IIA. Additional funders included the Maryland Department of Commerce, University of Maryland, Baltimore and The Abell Foundation of Baltimore.
A valuable component of the program was the Business Advisory Teams of experienced local executives, entrepreneurs and mentors to help the entrepreneurs navigate the local market. The MIDC is grateful to the professional trainers and volunteers who mentored the Israeli entrepreneurs. Special thanks to workshop sponsors: Baker Donelson, Covington, Epstein Becker Green, Sinai Hospital and to University of Maryland, Baltimore for their invaluable assistance in coordinating arrangements for the delegation.