Monday 18 June 2018

Israel's Hybrid programme: 'Multinationals treat talent as their workforce, we treat them as entrepreneurs'

Promoting entrepreneurship between communities in Israel - the Hybrid programme

Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

The Hybrid programme in Israel works as a means of promoting greater entrepreneurship between the various communities in the country, in particular the Arab and Jewish communities.

Founded in 2012, the programme is based in Tel Aviv, as the city is considered the centre of the country for investment.

So how does it work?

Each year the Hybrid programme ‫ choose six to 10 start-ups or teams of people which have a prototype product, a clear market, and are first time users of the programme.

Those chosen are then taken on what is described as an "intense" eight month learning programme.

According to the Hybrid organisation, they are looking for "companies with a winning team, founders fully committed to their startups, and dynamic, fast learning leaders ready for change, where at least one of the founders must be Arab, Druze or Bedouin".

During the eight month period, each team or start-up will work on a weekly basis with a mentor from the Hybrid organisation – all of whom are seasoned entrepreneurs, active investors and experienced players in Israel’s Hi-Tech arena.

The role of the mentors is to help the teams launch, acquire their first customers, gather an advisory board and team, and help the companies become ready for seed or pre-seed investment.

As well as this, co-founder and managing director, Eitan Sella says that they are also targeting industries in Israel with the aim of changing perceptions about minorities,

"The minute you change their perception on Arab entrepreneurs there is no problems," he says.

Mr Sella also said that the model that they use can be applicable to minorities in other countries.

The question then is, has it been successful so far?

Speaking to delegates as part of the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival 2017, Mr Sella was keen to stress that despite the Hybrid being a non-profit organisation, it was not a welfare programme,

"The talent for entrepreneurs is here and there is a lot of investment money that should be tapped," he said.

This is reiterated by his fellow co-founder Fadi Swidan, who said that any start-up that succeeds will have created new jobs and can help further build the business ecosystem in Israel.

The Hybrid can provide many examples of their success to-date including Skillinn, an artificial intelligence start-up that came to the Hybrid with just an idea and now has a number of paying customers.

Another example, MindoLife, a company that develops and IT infrastructure that is remotely controllable and saves electricity, recently struck a contract with an Indian company for $20m.

MindoLife, which is based in Haifa, was founded by two Jewish people and two Arab people. It now has 14 employees with customers in Europe and Jordan, as well as India.

In total the programme has worked with approximately 70 start-ups since 2012, helping companies secure $15m in funding and grants.

According to Mr Swidan, success across the communities is easier when you have a common goal of doing business and making money.

In the end Mr Sella says, everyone is looking for the same thing, "multinationals treat the talent here as their workforce, we treat them as entrepreneurs."

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