• Eitan Bienstock

Australian students practicum in Israeli startups

Updated: Feb 28, 2020

The students celebrating the end of the program presentations

I’ve recently returned from a month in Israel as the Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) of a highly successful program in which Australian undergraduate students spent four weeks working with Israeli startups. In its 3rd year, the program is an initiative of CSI (Centre for Social Impact) at the UNSW Business School and runs in collaboration with Israel’s leading entrepreneurial university, IDC (The Interdisciplinary Centre).

I was privileged to be asked to mentor the students as they figure out the Israeli entrepreneurial culture while delivering highly strategic work to the startups. This opportunity was a perfect fit for Techbench Capital's executive education offerings and our mission of leveraging knowledge from globally successful startup ecosystems. It also supported my involvement with Spark Festival's where we focus on growing the startup and innovation ecosystem by introducing new people to the space through hundreds of events.

I’m extremely proud of the quality of work that the 28 of UNSW business school students managed to produce in just four weeks. These students chose to spend the beginning of 2020 in Israel exploring what it means to be entrepreneurs, the Israeli way. In their early 20’s, they’ve all grown individually immersing themselves in a different culture, working in teams and producing a variety of strategic work benefiting Israeli early-stage startups.

This was clearly a win-win experience for both the startups and the students. The startup founders hosted the students at their offices in Tel Aviv for a couple of days each week providing hands-on mentoring and support while the student teams working on their challenges. During the rest of the week, the students participated in entrepreneurial skills-building workshops and also received individual project mentoring.

The startups were diversified by maturity level and sectors and they all posed unique challenges to the students. The students were assigned to groups based on their majors and particular interests. The highly innovative Israeli startups included: Kedma Solar, solar system installations, Tribely, social recruitment platform, PAI-TECH, distributed computing AI bots, Zero21, VC centric global accelerator, Get Jones, insurance compliance platform for real estate owners and Seatback, smart ergonomic chair technology.

Australian ambassador to Israel Chirs Cannan congratulating the students

At the end of the program, the students presented their work to local students, the participating startups and Chris Cannon, the Australian ambassador to Israel. Each startup received a comprehensive report addressing their unique challenges. The deliverables included:

  • Identifying, sizing and prioritising global market entry strategies

  • Producing internal processes to enable accelerated and efficient company growth

  • Defining value proposition, market differentiation and branding

  • Assessing alternative business models for the business

The students could not have hoped for better feedback from the startup founders and the ambassador. And while the goal of the program was not to necessarily turn the students into entrepreneurs, it was satisfying to see at the end of the program that the majority of students said that they would definitely consider entrepreneurship/Intrapreneurship pathway in their future career choices.

Team PAI-TEC receiving the program graduation certificates

Upon returning to Australia the students were asked to reflect on their experience. Here are a few such reflections:

“The capacity to appreciate university learning in a commercial and realistic context enabled me to develop and grow as a professional. I have felt that my past two years at university have been very theoretical and knowledge-based. The Global Business Practicum in Israel was a completely different experience and one that I would say was life-changing. To anyone deciding whether to apply to the program, I would immediately tell them without hesitation to go for it. I would never have expected to have learned so much and bond with so many people in under four weeks.” Derek Komban

“Overall, the program has been one of the best experiences of my life and most importantly has allowed to me achieve the things I sought it for in the first place – to challenge my perspective of the world and re-ignite my inner drive. There’s something quite special about the people in Israel and their inspiring thirst to push themselves to new heights and be the best versions of themselves.” Kevin Shaji

“This Global Business Practicum in Israel has been an eye-opening experience. Having

travelled to many countries over the past 25 years and living away from Singapore for more

than 13 years, Israel has been a unique experience unlike any other.” Student

“Working on a project that actually adds value to a real company is unlike any other university course I have completed.” Student

Contact us if you’re interested to find out more about future programs.

Successfully graduating from the Mental Israeli Toughness (MIT) workshop