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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

STEM Israel Trip 2016: Day 2

On the 2nd Day our STEM Israel Trip we met with Assaf Luxemburg for a session on “pitching your idea” at his Crowdmii office in Tel Aviv, followed by a tour of Crowdmii and MyMDBand offices. We then visited the Freetime Academy in Herzliya to see the world of Makaree for a step by step guide to the world of app design. Later in the day we met with Hillel Fuld, entrepreneur, and expert on the Startup Nation phenomenon.
Assaf Luxembourg, the CEO of Crowdmii, hadn't found his true calling until he was in his 20's. When he was younger he wanted to be a DJ - and he worked at it. At a certain point he said to himself "Do I really want to do this? Am I really going to be successful at this when I'm 40?" The answer (to himself) was no. So he thought about what his passion was and realized he loved Israel so much, that he had to have a job to represent her. He knew that what he described was being an ambassador to represent and honor his country- and get paid to do it. He went to Hebrew University and worked with big corporations to try to become qualified to be an Israeli ambassador. While in training with many diplomats around the world, they asked him to speak and teach them about Israel. After seeing that he loved speaking about Israel he realized that what he really was best at was being a consultant, talking about Israel and helping people to start up their own businesses- with the focus on businesses that are particularly helpful to many people. One example of this is MyMD band, a potentially life saving device that contains all of a person's medical information on a QR readable wristband. The product is funded to help Holocaust survivors live a healthier life.
Assaf explained to us what makes a successful pitch in order to successfully get funding for your project. When making a pitch you must follow a seven step pitch outline: Intro, team, opportunity, solution, competition, business model, and the ask. Most importantly is to convince investors that you're passionate about your startup. Then you must bring them the hard facts. Many questions were raised about the factual evidence needed. Assaf always led back to the idea that you must show devotion to an idea in order to catch an investors eye. You're really "selling yourself" and the investors need to believe that you're going to be successful.  ~Joseph Ezon and Jacob Shamah, Class of 2019
After having lunch on the beach in Herziliya, we went to Makeree at Freetime Academy. There, we had a fantastic time using their apps as a guide to build a variety of toys made from straws and a hand-made speaker. Going to Freetime academy, I had thought that we were about to learn the steps of how to build our own app. What we really came to learn, was that the company's workshop that we were about to attend was a hands on experience, which taught us how to build things using simple instructions and innovation. Makaree is a business that focuses on teaching people how to build things with their hands using simple steps and processes. They collaborate with other businesses in order to create apps in order to teach people how to create a certain device. 
We used the app that Makeree had developed for Strawbees, a toy company that allows its users to make creations out of drinking straws. Using the app, we created catapults to launch projectiles in the air. The projectiles we used were pretzels, and we began to shoot the pretzels across the room using the catapults. We decided to create a competition to judge the accuracy and strength of our different catapult designs. While Teddy Gindi did in fact beat me at this challenge, we both learned a valuable lesson today. When we walked in, and we saw the straws, we asked ourselves, “Why are we using drinking straws to build these catapults? Why not wood?” Well, there was a definitive reason as to why the building materials were straws. It was because we needed to learn the skills of improvisation, of using your brain, in order to best utilize the supplies that are given. In life, and certainly in business, we will be given challenges, and we may think that we can not overcome those challenges, but we must use the skills of improvisation in order to combat these challenges.  ~Jack H. Dweck, Class of 2019
Later in the evening we heard from Hillel Fuld, one of the top 100 innovators in Israel, speak to us about Israel being a "Start-Up Nation." He told us how almost every big tech company in the world has development centers in Israel, and that people agree that of all places in the world, the tiny country of Israel is on par with Silicon Valley. Israel keeps coming forth with new, innovative technology. For this reason, many companies are eager and willing to fund Israeli start-ups. And now, Tel Aviv and Haifa are not the only high tech cities in Israel -Jerusalem is now also a major development city. Despite its outward image of pretty much being the "Old City," Jerusalem is producing a large amount of successful new tech. Israelis are particularly successful in the field, according to Hillel, because they are naturally determined, hard-workers. He opened our eyes and really made us proud to learn just how relevant Israel is in our modern world -it's really just about the top country in the industry - a great place to live and to work.  ~Joseph Braha, Class of 2019