What Hong Kong can Learn from the Israel Startup Scene with Jon Medved

Michael MicheliniBusiness, Case Studies, Podcast0 Comments


As part of the 2nd of a 3 part series, we have here with us Jonathan Medved visiting Hong Kong from Israel. He’s a serial entrepreneur and an amazing speaker and all around fun guy to chat with! He gives us some real advice about how startup communities form, join in together to support each other – and how Israel has become Number 2 in producing innovation after Silicon Valley!

About Jonathan Medved, Founder and CEO, OurCrowd

Jonathan Medved is a serial entrepreneur and according to theWashington Post (2007) “one of Israel’s leading high tech venture capitalists”. In the 2008 New York Times supplement “Israel at 60” he was named one of the top 10 most influential Americans who have impacted Israel. Jon is the founder and CEO of OurCrowd, a new Israeli crowdfunding platform for accredited investors which according to Forbes (August 2013) is “one of the largest crowdfunding organizations on the planet”. OurCrowd has raised over US$20 million for 26 portfolio companies since its launch in February 2013. Between 2006-2012, he was the co-founder and CEO of Vringo (Nasdaq:VRNG) bringing it public in 2010. Between 1995-2006 he was the co-founder and General Partner of Israel Seed Partners, one of Israel’s leading venture capital funds with US$262 million under management. He was also a co-founder and Executive Vice President at Meret Optical Communications, Inc., a fibre optics pioneer acquired by the Amoco Corporation in 1990, and Accent Software, which went public on Nasdaq. Jon serves on the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and on the Board of Governors of the Jerusalem College of Technology.

Topics Covered in this Episode

  • Intro Jon Medved
  • Israel startup scene intro
  • What the Hong Kong startup community can learn from the Israeli startup scene.
  • The startup community is to support other “Delusional” entrepreneurs, encourage each other, and be in it together,
  • Risk acceptance – time on this planet is limited.
  • Government in the way
  • Hong Kong being known for logistics and financial
  • What do you look for in a startup
  • How mini-mergers in private startups happen, and teams combine. Growing big and not worrying about dilution.
  • Where to base your startup. Where you feel comfortable. Where you can build your startup team.

People / Companies / Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Notes from our listeners

Daniel Oron on linkedin gave me the comment: I recommend the book “start up nation ” about the Israeli people and start ups success.
Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle is a 2009 book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer about the economy of Israel

Episode Length: 16:13

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Podcast Transcription

Below we had this podcast converted to text, as it is a top listened episode, enjoy!

Introduction: Welcome to the Global From Asia podcast where the daunting process of running an international business from Hong Kong is broken down into straight up actionable advice and now your host, Michael Michelini.

Mike : Thank you listeners for tuning in to another episode of Global From Asia. We’re at Episode 11 here. I’m recording inside Mainland China and ahh I actually have 3 weeks to wait for my passport ticket back. I filed another renewal of my work permits and residence permit and December 6 was the day they issued it. And new policies are getting longer and more strict in Mainland China and I have to wait until December 27. So it’s 15 business days. Luckily, Christmas is a working day in China so that counts as another day for me. In the 15th, I’ll pick it up on the 27 to be able to go outside of Mainland such as Hong Kong. But we have a few interviews here, and I’ve been doing phone, getting better, phone interviews, so don’t worry, and will still keep us on track regularly planned podcast here. So today’s episode is part 2 of 3 parts series to start me up Hong Kong ventures forum speakers that were here. And, this is Jon Medved. He is a serial entrepreneur from Israel came to Hong Kong for the investing cage series there. And he is current founder and CEO of OurCrowd which is a crowdfunding platform for startups to help get some funding in for equity. So without further adieu, let’s get Jon here in an interview.

Thank you for joining us for Global from Asia. And we have Jon Medved here for Israel visiting us from Hong Kong for the special series of start me up HK venture forum. We just finished at the meeting and we lock him up to catch up on our show. So, thank you for being here.

Jon : Delighted to be here.

Mike : I think, for our listeners, maybe quickly introduce yourself.

Jon : Jon Medved, I’m a serial entrepreneur. I built a whole bunch of startups ranging from fibre optics, software venture capitalist, built my own find in a garage which grow to about 260 million dollars, called Israel sea partners of back 60 companies that way, prolific angel investiture, mobile software, startup guy, which took my last company bring go public on a New York stock exchange. And then about a year and half ago, came up to this idea that to a equity crowdfunding platform for OurCrowd. And today, I’m proud to say that our crowd is the single biggest equity crowdfunding platform in the world in terms of money raise.

Mike : Yeah , thank you for being here. So our focus usually is around Asia. But this is special series in here. From Israel, which I’m lucky enough to hear about yesterday speak about how is the third largest.

Jon : Group of companies traded in New York on the stock exchanges. And probably the world’s second most important source innovation. A lot of things we all take for granted in our daily life, like instant messaging, started in Israel, voice mail, started in Israel, the little jump drives or stick drives we used for in a flash memory started in Israel, okay, the microsoft kinect kind of pattern recognition you know with your hands started in Israel, okay, even in a products that you would not bring like your computer, wait that’s a lenovo computer, or it’s a dell, or a mac, it’s gotta intel chip, intel chips today by large designed in Israel, they are 8,000 intel employees there, we should be calling it Israel inside in intel, and broadcam has bought 11 companies in Israel, they estimated 98% on the packets of the internet, touch your broadcam chip. But look at this chips, they are all coming from Israel, they bought 11 companies. Sisco, about 13 Israeli companies. You cannot do Sisco, anything without Israeli component in there. Microsoft has bought 7 Israeli companies. Facebook just bought their third. Apple computer just bought another new company called prime cents. Google spent 100 million to buy ways okay. So what’s going on now? Israel is strictly becomes the world’s other Silicon Valley. It’s a little more dance, okay, smaller, were not a bigger country but it amaze me think about me okay when you count the number of company that were traded in new york, and their ranking is the United States, China, and then Israel, we’re 8 million people and makes no sense, but what’s exciting about Israel in Asia is it we are really smacking the middle of the world. Wow! We’ve often an orientation towards the West, going to Silicon Valley, going into US, going into Europe. More and more of Israeli entrepreneurs are getting out in Israel and making a right turn and heading into Asia, so there are more and more Israeli companies and entrepreneurs were showing up here in Hong Kong, going to Shanghai, going to Beijing, going to Singapore. We’re all over this part of the world. Now because this is where the money is the customers are. But I think that we have special affinity to the many of the cultural things going on here. Asia feels right for an Israeli, not just because there’s a strong sense of tradition in the culture which resonates with our sense of tradition. But also because Israeli’s have been here before. All of our kids after they finished the army they go on tour. They go worldwide trucking, put a back pack in a shoulder, they go on Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong, surfing the waves in Java, and they’re in Japan’s selling pictures on the streets, and they’re doing something. This rarely kids who later on go and found this incredible startups they have all been to Asia before. They know the culture, they know the food, they feel comfortable, and so there’s a cultural click in a way that I think is very very interesting and important.

Mike : One big thing is, how did this startup community maybe get started in Israel? I think Hong Kong, we have start up, you know, a lot of different startup groups kinda forming and I think it’s just a few year in now, maybe working some people here learn from Israel

Jon : Most important is that, word community. You ve got to build the community, and the community consist can’t just be online, has to be physical. And the fact that you’re so small and concentrated, and I understand now there are 18 shared spaces on going. Okay that’s great but the fact is there shouldn’t be just once a year HK start me up. Okay? It should be happening every month, every month there should be meet-up with people bringing cool start up ideas and introducing them to investors. And to the extent you guys discover each other, okay? as brothers in this struggle then, it’s gonna be a lot better for you. Because the reality is that to be an entrepreneur is to be delusional. I got this from a professor, noble-prize winner and economics. Look we know that entrepreneur, the odds are against you. The odds of startup company succeeding are less than 50/50. Right, make it a simple calculation. You shouldn’t do it. But of course, you do it because you believe that you are going to beat the odds. You can make your own destiny. You can make your own luck. And that is very much entrepreneurial attitude. It turns out the people as the whole, according to, shared the delusional spirit. They actually impact the outcome of events. The more that you believe as a group, the more you influence each other. And actually have the greater degree of success. And that’s the function of the startup the community where people are not just accessing capital or accessing services, it is finding the right lawyer who knows how to set up companies, or quickly finding the right distributor and all that critical or hiring that key program or that key business development executive. And that’s what you do in community setting but it’s much more important to actually celebrate the guys ,who win to console of a guy who lose and encouraging to get up and fight again, and just basically to be in this together, because you know even though they might be a competitor right there we have in Israel, we have very tough competition between Israeli companies, but it’s all about being on the same team. And i think that the extent of you guys are doing that here in Hong Kong it will really work for you.

Mike : Definitely great advice. I think one thing I’ve noticed is everybody’s doing their own startup and their own business. How, this is little bit off topic but i’m interested to know. How is it like Israel like mergers in small businesses and startups.

Jon : That happens, it’s really hard, when you have too private in same kind of early stage startups. Everyone’s egos involved and it’s like what ahh I’m gonna give you 50%, I’m gonna take 80% that’s very very difficult psychology. I’ll tell you I make of some of the best companies. I’ve had tremendous success in my background, putting together private companies, to create 1 + 1 = 11. Because very often, you don’t have everything that you need, right, whether even the technical side or the marketing side, you see somebody else who’s got complimentary skills, maybe he’s got the money, and you got the product. And you can work together, I’m a real believer in growing big. Not worrying about delusion. One of the big mistakes entrepreneurs make all the time, they are always saying how much of the company do I own? Do I own 70%? do I own 60%? You know, and they’re focusing all the time of their percentage ownership rather than focusing under total value. Okay? Because I could own 5% of a company but if it’s a billion dollar company, I’m a happy camper. Okay, were as I can own 90% of a million dollar company and I’m not so happy. So, you gotta look at how you grow that value and sometimes growing the value means is taking delusions, bringing partners, bringing investment, in order to grow in a much bigger pie.

Mike : I definitely agree. But, I think maybe that’s where in Hong Kong needed to learn, that’s my personal opinion, also I’ve heard like sometimes the biggest company’s economic downturn, because nobody has a job or everybody pulls resources together to help each other. So that’s pretty great. I’d really like to talk about you know, risk acceptance, and the fiddler on the roof comment. I would like you to maybe say that for our listeners.

Jon : Okay. First of all, the most important thing you can get in order to really understand the entrepreneurial mindset is that you have to accept the risk. Risk is part of life. If you’re gonna be afraid of failure, and the failure thing is in like your brain, that’s all you can think of, it’s overwhelming, then you’re not gonna startup a company. Learn to accept risk. We’re all here in this planet for a very short time. There’s risk crossing the streets. There’s risk getting up in the morning. There’s risk going into the shower for crying out loud. Go build the company. By the way, everyone doesn’t have to be entrepreneur, righ? A lot of people this is simply too much risk. This is not in their DNA, that’s fine. But there are lot of people who actually could make great entrepreneur, just got to be push a little bit to take that risk and that is really important. Second thing we talk about was in our what should the government do, what should the government do? That’s the wrong attitude it’s not the government, but you. The government’s gonna do its job that making sure that everyone’s got a good education, there’s a good tax system, good legal system, and that the country is being promoted, there’s trade agreement, that’s government job. The government can’t get you to go get up and start up a company, okay? And there’s this movie based on a broadway play, called Fiddler on the Roof, where they come to a Rabi, Jewish holy man, they say Rabi is there a prayer for the government, you know it’s middle of the wedding, and the Rabi stroking his beard, and he says, yes my son there’s a very famous prayer, may God bless and keep the government far away from us. Okay in other words, the government has their job, they don’t need to get involved in your day to day business. They don’t need to pick winners, they don’t need to give you a check to build a company. If you want to reduce make sure you want to when you make a bundle of money, they don’t take it all away and then tax us, okay? And that’s a good thing, I think and you guys got that really well done here in a Hong Kong for sure.

Mike : Yeah definitely great. Tax recess should be in Hong Kong. I think for my last question to wrap up is. I like to always say, what’s the tip that you would give to an entrepreneur. A lot of entrepreneurs here are listeners are thinking of coming to Asia or to Hong Kong or here. You know, should they come to Asia, like lots of searching location a lot and your Israel make sure, should entrepreneur go there or I mean.

Jon : It really there are many wonderful places to build a company, and Silicon Valley is a great place. Israel is a great place. Hong Kong is a great place. London, incredible centers but you have to find a place that you feel at home because when you are sitting there lonely and you don’t have connections and you’re not part of the community, that is the bad place for you and that’s not gonna work. So find a place that you are connected. But the most important is when you started build your team, okay? So, it’s all about the team. Before you start worrying about, where you gonna get your money? Where you go get your first customer? Or How you’re gonna, you know, brand yourself? Or you know do your advertising. First, work on your team. Make sure that you can convince a couple of people to become your partner, who have complementary skills, who can bring the right kind of you know, human resources, to bear on this incredible task of building a company. And that’s the first thing that your potential investors you’re gonna look at. If it’s just yourself, it’s gonna be a lot harder but getting money if you build a good team around you.

Mike : I definitely agree. But, a little bit, look for a technical co-founder, I usually, the business side the founder has the idea and tries to convince a technical co-founder, that’s a whole episode on itself. But umm.

Jon : I’d be happy to talk about that next time.

Mike : Maybe, next time. So yeah, thanks for being here.

Jon : My pleasure.

Mike : Okay, that’s a wrap. Thanks so much.

Okay. So thank you Jon for the interview. Hope everyone enjoyed his insights on the Israeli startup community and some real on the ground tips for entrepreneurs and one funny thing about Jon was I was in the press conference for the ahh venture forum and he noticed my laptop by, I have all these stickers of different startups and invest make kinda businesses. And he really saw me sticking out there. And the panel of different PR medial people. So that definitely appreciate the recognition. I tried to keep it real. I also wanna say, Eva Chen, manager and PR and the investHK, she helps me a lot with this arranging of interviews. And also inthe episode 5 with Charles Ng, he also really instrument in helping me coordinate that, thank you eva for listening, and I know she always really concern with the sound quality. We’re trying to get quiet spaces. There are different PR sessions and thanks again. And now some words from our listeners, always my favorite part. I’m trying to figure out how to better centralize all these different reviews on different markets of iTunes but one here in Hong Kong is from George, is a dutch entrepreneur in Hong Kong. I’ve known him for many years. Ahh he’s coming through Hong Kong often he goes, does business all over the world. And they definitely enjoy listening. Caught up on all my podcasts a week or so ago, was hiking in new territories. He was nice enough to give me 5 star review and let me just read it for everybody. “Great insight from people on the ground and the details you right are. Michael could probably feel a podcast with just as his own experience and I guess he brings into multiply that. My to-do-list of things to look into and book to read is growing with almost all the episodes so this is deep actionable advice.” Thank you George really appreciate supportive. I know you are also a tech guy yourself maybe we should use some analytics ways to better podcast it’s like search online. And I can’t find a way to put all these data together and feedback that might be a pretty cool idea. So thanks everybody and next time will be our third 3 series of these speakers. So stay tune and any feedback is of course more appreciated.

To get more info, on running international business via Hong Kong please visit our website at www.globalfromasia.com that’s www.globalfromasia.com. Also, be sure to subscribe to our iTunes feed. Thanks for tuning in.


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