25 Israel Based Entrepreneurs Share Actionable Tips For Successfully Doing Business in Israel
In this chapter of our Global Startup Report 25 Israel based entrepreneurs share their tips and advice for successfully doing business in Israel.
People here are very welcoming & generous with their time & their contacts. Start going to networking events & soon enough you’ll be plugged in. Most of us are thrilled when new people want to move here & we’ll be happy to help.
Be transparent – everyone else is. We’re very much a WYSIWG culture. And don’t take things personally – usually they’re not.
Don’t be afraid with formalities. Israelis don’t like to waste time with superficial details and manners. That can even be shocking. Be direct and be ready for straight up, to the point, blunt discussions.
Understanding the Israeli mindset is very helpful when doing business with Israelis. Israelis are quite different from other people. They’re all about being to the point and getting stuff done quickly.
Be aware of these traits when dealing with Israelis, it’s not that they’re being rude, just the normal mindset of Israelis.
1. Israelis aren’t impressed by fluff, and can spot it almost immediately. So don’t try to pad your pitch with useless acronyms or claims. Get right down to the core of the problem, how your solution comes to solve it, and why you’re the person to solve this problem.
2. Standard Israeli tech attire ranges from t-shirts and jeans, to button-down shirts and nice pants (for guys), and nice casual attire for women. The nicer attire is generally reserved for meetings. Suits and ties are almost never worn. The only people in the tech scene who sometimes wear suits are VCs (when meeting with international partners), and lawyers.
3. When arguing about things, Israelis may seem to talk loudly and quickly. They may also say things that are so direct they come across as an insult. Try not to take offense or take it too seriously. It can be a bit hard to get used to, but what overseas may be taken as an insult, is just a regular conversation here.
4. Identify the influencers and meet them. Because the community here is so small, everyone knows everyone, or at least someone who knows someone. Meet one person, ask them who else you should meet, and so on, and soon enough you’ll be meeting with the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff. So your chances of getting a meeting with an influencer are pretty high. Often it just comes down to asking, and most people are happy to meet with creative people who have good ideas.
5. There is almost no hierarchy here. Just because you’re the CEO doesn’t mean that your office manager doesn’t have an opinion or two that you need to hear. And hear it you will. There’s no “Mister” or “Mrs.” or formalities like that, unless you’re the Prime Minister, and even then it’s not guaranteed. So don’t try to be the Important One. You’re not.
Be straight forward more than you expected.
We have no local market for your services but the best engineering talent in the world.
1. networking is as important, if not more important than in other countries.
2. understand the local talent pool for hiring.
3. understand the local employment laws.
4. setting up office space and dealing with other service providers locally – negotiate everything.
Doing Business in Israel is a bit different from the states or Europe.
There is no point in scheduling a meeting for 3 weeks upfront. A week before is sufficient and even a day before is good.
There is no dressing code in businesses. You can come to a meeting with shorts and t-shirt. In some companies like WIX some people tend to walk bare foot.
Start ups in Israel aim for the American or global markets because there just arent enough people in Israel for the kind of growth start ups and VCs look for.
But there are a bunch of global companies that have development or business centers here that you can approach for global deals – Samsung, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Cisco, Nice, Qualcomm to name a few.
I personally believe that being honest and straightforward is a key for successfully doing business in Israel. we usually like to get down to business very fast 🙂
It’s all about relationships. Israelis are easy going and early adopters.
In Israel you can negotiate almost everything, don’t accept everything as granted and don’t worry to offer high price if you believe in your product.
If the customer will like your product but will feel it’s to expensive, he will likely tell you that and you’ll be able to set an agreed price.
The local market is tough, doesn’t produce any profit and generally sealed for anyone who isn’t local.
Immerse yourself in the startup culture. The tech community here is alive and active, with both entrepreneurs and investors willing to open their doors and make introduction to connections.
Push faster. Too much time can be spent waiting for something to mature. Its critical to move fast. Its not enough to know where you want to be and how to get there.
It’s important to understand that you need to hustle. That means finding faster ways to test and ramp up. Hustle.
Know people. That’s where everything starts unfortunately. If you don’t know people bug them (email conferences etc) until they answer you.
If you’re building a start-up, don’t waste your time on Israeli customers, they’re hard customers to work with and they don’t add value to your venture.
You would find the community very open and willing to assist. I don’t think there is anything special to be aware of.
It might be surprising to find out that there is a shortage of angel investors in Israel, in comparison to the US.
Marketing in general and especially for end consumers is not at its best here. This is something the industry is still learning and needs to improve (this is also a great opportunity for those who specialize in Marketing)
1. Tel Aviv is the center of start-ups and high Tech companies, so this is the city you should be located in.
2. There are many events and meetups so try to show up to the most relevant and network so you’ll know people from the community.
3. Israel is a small place, everyone knows everyone and if you’ll manage to connect with several people from the industry they will be able to help with connecting to other relevant people.
4. Don’t be shy to ask for help and intros, it’s part of the culture here.
Don’t take anything too much too heart.
Learn a bit of Hebrew.
It’s quite hard to differentiate between those who are truly professionals and those who seems like ones.
I guess it’s true everywhere but still…
1. Control the details and be prepared for the un-happy scenarios.
2. Hard question will be asked, so be prepared.
3. Know to whom you want to listen, and to whom you don’t.
4. Israel is really small, everybody knows everybody here. Keep that in mind.
Fitting in Matters: Israel has an extremely informal dress code. Mainly to do with the fact that it reaches 45 degrees cellulose here in the summer. Israeli work cloths are what Americans would consider Friday casual. And then a bit more casual (HiTech/ startup’s only. If you are a lawyer disregard this).
Setting Boundaries: This is necessary if you want to be successful in business here and retain your mental health. People here tend to work late, startups in particular, and not always is there is a real need to work until 10 pm. Judge yourself on your productivity and set boundaries that help you achieve your best both professionally and personally.
Be fast or don’t be at all
Help the community and you’ll get back twice
No matter what is your product, don’t tall the Israel he doesn’t know what he is doing and you can solve the problem for him. Instead ask he what would he do with your product.
Oleg Korol / Tevatronic LTD
– Don’t start with building your own startup. Find a job in an existing (and funded) startup. It will give you an easy landing experience.
– Always grow your network. Start with Meetups to practice your networking skills with Israelis and then just send emails directly to founders you find interesting. Keep it short, honest and friendly.
– Try to connect with other people from your homeland who are residing in Israel. This is the best way to start. For example, if you were born in France then contact French entrepreneurs/investors who are living in Israel.
– Seriously, Be fearless 🙂
Image credit: ronsho
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