from the October 2008 issue

Of High-Tech and Olympic Medals

We were more than a little surprised to learn that a philanthropically-oriented individual provided ten million dollars for the preparation of Israeli athletes for the recently held Olympics. The results were meagre, as only one bronze medal was brought back from Beijing. The Israeli athletes complained about training conditions and their poor mental preparation. An angel investor, venture capitalist or private investor will not accept lame excuses. For a ten million dollar investment, or one million per investment, they would rightly expect a healthy return from at least one or two investments. Of those who did not bear satisfactory yield, the entrepreneurs would be unlikely to badmouth the conditions.

Of the athletes that returned from Beijing, without medals, none pledged that they would practice unstintingly and garner medals in 2012. We would like to suggest that high-tech is a more likely and desirable occupation for Israelis than Olympic competition. The prospect of making an excellent living and accumulating stock options is preferable to winning a medal, even a gold one. More people are likely to remember Efi Arazi, the founder of Scitex than Esther Shahamarov, Israel's hurdles champion.

Yet we concede that we look forward to someday cheering an internationally acclaimed Israeli athlete. What would be even better is that the sportsman or sportswoman would also be an entreprising entrepreneur. In the Arava, Israel's wilderness a group of young people have decided that they must learn the rudiments of entrepreneurship. We have been invited to give a lecture on business plans and executive summaries. Other speakers are also being invited. Give these enterprising young people ten million dollars and it is more than likely that they will deliver a solid return on capital.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report October 2008

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