Start-Up Nation Book Review

Until now, I’ve focused my book reviews on books geared toward young or teenage entrepreneurs. Although this is an adult book, it really brings invaluable insight and lessons for entrepreneurs of all ages.

Let me start first by saying that this is not a book about politics in the Middle East. It is, however, an analysis of Israel’s success at producing start-up companies.

The book begins by exposing the facts:

  • Israel is a country of 7.1 million surrounded by enemies yet despite its size and surroundings; it has more start-up companies than large, peaceful nations like the Japan, China, India and the UK.
  • Israeli start-up companies are extremely diversified and include computers, security, communications, medical device patents, clean-tech, biotech and more.
  • Israel attracts two times more venture capital investments per person than the US and thirty times more than Europe.

The authors, Dan Senor and Saul Singer, conducted interviews with personalities both in the US and in Israel to understand what factors contribute toward Israel’s start-up success. Interviews include the CEOs of major American corporations, such as eBay, Google, Cisco, as well as politicians and military leaders.

According to their analysis, one of the factors responsible for the success is Israel’s compulsory military service. At the age of 18, both men and women must serve—three and two years respectively—before attending university. At first, I was confused. How could the army, which is based on receiving orders, foster an innovative mind and successful entrepreneurship? The authors explain that the way soldiers are trained in the army is very sophisticated, providing them with useful business skills such as communication, team building, problem solving and improvisation. Who knew?

This book is an educational, insightful must-read for any entrepreneur.
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