Californian entrepreneur breaks into the Israeli venture capital scene

Californian entrepreneur breaks into the Israeli venture capital scene

Mai 21, 2012

After UC Berkeley graduate Jonathan Levi sold his eCommerce company and received his acceptance to INSEAD Business School, he packed up and headed to Israel. 
Through Masa Israel's Career Israel program, he was provided an apartment in a lively building on King George Street, Central Tel Aviv, as well as an internship at Rhodium, a private investment firm focusing on high growth cutting-edge opportunities in the fields of Internet, New-media, and Mobile technologies.
 
"I wanted to gain some insider perspective in venture capital because after business school, I plan to start another venture," said Levi. "Plus, the program sounded like a lot of fun, and a much better way to spend the time leading up to business school in August." Levi had traveled to Israel to visit family in the past, but had never experienced Israel's work culture.
 
"On my first day, I was invited into a pitch meeting and told not to say anything," said Levi. "But 5 minutes into the presentation, someone in the meeting turns to me and asks, 'Is it worth it?' So, three hours after landing at the office, I was already being treated as a member of the Rhodium family. It completely blew me away."
 
Since then, Levi has been encouraged to tell the company what kind of work he finds compelling-branding and product design-and to jump into it, advising incubated startups on what works and what doesn't based on his knowledge of sociology, market strategies, branding, and his own past experiences.
 
In addition to gaining insights into the VC evaluation process, which will prove crucial to Levi's professional path, Levi said that he is learning a lot from the Israeli work culture. "I actually think there's a lot that Israelis can teach Americans about business practices," said Levi. "In Israel, there's a tradition of defying authority for the greater good, and simply getting to the point. They don't expend wasted words on flowery language; they just want tachlis."
 
Levi is looking forward to bringing his new knowledge to his international classmates at INSEAD Singapore, and has even decided to make Aliyah after graduation. "Honestly, Tel Aviv is the best city on earth-the social life, the beautiful weather, the lively social atmosphere. It's incredible," he says.
 
Read more about Jonathan Levi at lucid-path.com or @entreprenewer