Intel Software Manager to Haredi Entrepreneurs: “The question today is no longer whether man is better than beast but whether man is better than the machine?”
Entrepreneurs, venture capital investors and hi-tech and technology personnel participated in early March in a “demo day” for the “Yazam BaLev” Accelerator program.
Dozens of entrepreneurs, venture capital investors, private investors and hi-tech and technology personnel from a variety of companies participated in the “demo day” for the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) – Lev Academic Center’s, “Yazam BaLev” accelerator program for encouraging entrepreneurship among Haredim.
The Yazam BaLev accelerator provides Haredi entrepreneurs, even those in very early stages of their venture, with the tools they need to develop their ideas and transform them into viable products and startup companies. As part of the accelerator, the entrepreneurs receive one-on-one guidance and mentoring from top executives and investors from the hi-tech community to help them launch, fund and expand their startups. The program which has been developed understanding the special needs of the Haredi community, helps them with any lack of background in technology and education, as well as any marketing difficulties.
The Software Manager of the Perceptual Computing Group at Intel Corporation, Yishai Fraenkel, who also serves as a member of the Planning and Budgeting Committee of the Council for Higher Education, stated during the event: “I exchanged several words with the entrepreneurs and saw beautiful and fascinating ventures…We are currently in a period that was inconceivable for us to reach; computers and electronics that so closely emulate artificial intelligence. Today, there is no question that the field of Computer Sciences will change the world, and the question may no longer be whether ‘man is better than beast but whether man is better than the machine?’ In most cases, the people leading the startups have already integrated into the Computer Science world – people who have learned a lot, which is what enabled them to become entrepreneurs.”
Mr. Fraenkel added, “The [Jerusalem College of Technology –] Lev Academic Center is one of the central places in Israel working towards the integration of Haredim, both men and women, in the hi-tech and technology fields, and there is nothing which compares to educating people. There is significant effort involved in learning for many years but it leads to much success along the way.”
Participants included, inter alia, Udi Ben Dor, Deputy CEO for the JDA – Jerusalem Development Authority; Helen Wexler, Commissioner of Hi-tech Portfolio at JDA; Dr. Sigal Shelach, Deputy CEO of JDC (Joint Distribution Committee) and CEO of TEVET – a company that seeks to encourage a million Israelis to escape the circle of poverty; Moishe Freedman, CEO of KamaTech; and Yonatan Goldstein, representative of Boston Medical – which provides advanced medical solutions.
The Founder of Yazam BaLev and Vice President of the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) – Lev Academic Center, Stuart Hershkowitz, stated that nearly 2,000 Haredi students are studying at JCT. “We understand the needs of the Haredi community and the challenges that they face upon entering the entrepreneurial world. We established Yazam BaLev in order to encourage entrepreneurship and provide the tools they need in order to succeed.”
During the event, the entrepreneurs presented their ventures. These included, inter alia: a patent for running a hierarchical coding system where the user has full control over creating and controlling codes; an internet based system for managing similar groups with the option of diverting to the most relevant sub-groups with relevant content; an internet arena that connects service providers in various fields and consumers, and enables direct and fast communication; an application that allows residents to report municipal issues in an easy and quick way; an internet arena that allows users to offer real estate transactions to other users – investments are made in the form of a partnership between investors, so that the individual investment sum is relatively low.
Ben Weiner, Manager of the Jumpspeed Ventures Fund, who runs Yazam BaLev, said: “We place emphasis on the entrepreneurs. Unlike other accelerators, the purpose of the program is to teach its participants what they need in order to build a start-up, as well as demonstrating that Haredi entrepreneurs can dream and aspire for success in the entrepreneurial field.”