Jonathan Medved

Jonathan Medved to Speak at JNF Breakfast

Founder of OurCrowd and Israeli investor Jonathan Medved is scheduled to speak at annual Jewish National Fund Breakfast for Israel on May 21.

By Adam Finkel

The Jewish National Fund hosts its annual Breakfast for Israel on Tuesday, May 21, at Congregation Shaarey Zedek. This year, the speaker is Jonathan Medved, the founder of OurCrowd, which has funded 170 companies across industries spanning drones, mobility, digital health and agriculture health.

The crowd-investing platform is based in Jerusalem.

Although guests may show up at the day of the event, it is recommended they register by May 10 at jnf.org/Detroit. In addition to hearing from Medved, JNF communications manager Daniel Peri said, “Guests will learn more about the important work Jewish National Fund does each day to improve the land of Israel for all who call it home, from building new, affordable housing in the Galilee and Negev to investing in infrastructure, employment and water reclamation.”

In anticipation of the JNF breakfast, the Jewish News caught up with Medved to discuss some of the leading questions about his views on technology, policy and Israel life.

JN: How do you think the Detroit business community can better partner and collaborate with Israeli mobility technologies?

JM: Israel has today emerged as the leading source of mobility innovation in the world, led by companies like Mobileye, the cohort of 500 Israeli startups is changing the world of sensor software, cyber security for autos, verification for next gen networks and so much more. By hooking up these innovative companies with both the auto manufacturers and the supply chain, together with investors, Israel can partner with Detroit and bring these innovative ideas and technologies to market.

JN: When it comes to the internal rate of return (IRR) and the time-to-liquidity, what do you view as realistic to achieve for a seed investment?

JM: With a seed investment, you should be ready to wait several years before you see liquidity, and that can be three, five, or even more than 10 years till exit. Venture capital, like a good wine should not be rushed, and vintage is important. Giving companies the proper time to build value is absolutely essential. Mobileye took almost two decades until it was acquired by Intel from its founding.

JN: If you could write the next chapter of Startup Nation, what do you envision would be trends that most embody Israel’s next decade of technology growth?

JM: A truly global approach to partnership whereby it is no longer Silicon Valley and Boston together with Israel, but many other geographies hooking up to Israel’s ecosystem, such as Detroit, Austin, Seattle, Miami and others. This phenomenon goes beyond the U.S., too. Israel is now playing an innovative role with partnerships all over the world, in a way that the first round of Start Up Nation did not even imagine possible.

Israeli Policies

JN: What do you think it will take to get more
entrepreneurial- oriented leaders to be actively involved in Israeli policy-making and the broader civil sector?

JM: That is already happening in a major way. Political leaders such as Naftali Bennett, who was a startup founder; Nir Barkat who recently entered into the Knesset, was the founder of Check Point Software; Izhar Shay, new MK from the Blue and White party is a former GP at Canaan partners; Ayelet Shaked, very much a startup person … Turns out there are many tech people entering Israel’s political rank and this is a good thing.

JN: If you were to be in the Knesset or in the prime minister’s office, what policies would you prioritize?

JM: I would spend more money on education and research to make sure Israel keeps its competitive edge; fund programs to increase inclusion to get more Haredim, Arabs and women in the tech economy; and keep taxes and regulation low so we can remain competitive with the best business locations in the world

JN: What is needed to get more successful entrepreneurs to step up their philanthropic leadership?

JM: Israeli entrepreneurs are tackling philanthropic challenges with the same energy that they brought to their innovative companies; however, they will play by the new rule book that they will pioneer. In particular, we are interested in impact investing whereby one invests money to benefit the world and society while gaining great financial returns. We believe you can do both and provide a double bottom line for the investor — making money while doing good. To this end, we just launched an impact investment fund to allow investors to back companies who are solving sustainable development goals promulgated by the United Nations and we will be measuring the results of our companies’ considerable impact.

JN: As perhaps the most well-traveled investor in the country, how would you define the Israel-diaspora relationship today?

JM: It’s complicated. I think today’s diaspora Jewish community is more familiar with Israel than ever before because more of them are visiting Israel — whether it be the youth on Birthright trips or older individuals who have fallen in love with the country. The planes coming into Israel are now fuller than ever before with tourism breaking all prior records.

There are issues of differences in culture. Israel tends to be more politically conservative, more religious, more traditional, and yet I am convinced the underlying bonds of family, shared traditions and shared future will win out and prevent any chasm from opening between them.

Lessons Learned

JN: What has been the greatest lesson that you’ve learned over your career?

JM: Things take time. This business requires kishkas — intestinal fortitude — and a willingness to endure the ups and downs of the venture capital roller coaster. The other important lesson is that you must invest using a wide portfolio approach. Failure in investments is part of this game; therefore, you do not put all your eggs in one basket, but in 10 or more individual investments or funds that diversify your risk.

JN: You spent your childhood years in America before making aliyah. What advice would you offer to a young adult today seeking to move to Israel?

JM: First: Come to Israel earlier rather than later. Don’t “over plan” your aliyah. Don’t try to get a job before you show up. Most importantly, you don’t need to make “all or nothing” decisions about being or staying here. Everyone should come and spend 6-12 months in Israel, during a gap year or while traveling, at any age. Being in Israel and experiencing what it’s like to live in a Jewish country is a spectacular goal and experience for all Jews. The more diaspora Jews participate in the building of Israel by coming to live here, the better off we will be as a people.

JN: What was it about your upbringing that impacted your desire to make aliyah? How much different do you believe your life would be today if you had stayed in America?

JM: I was raised in a warm Jewish family in Southern California, which had highly meaningful moments of Jewish life, surrounded by a majority of non-Jews and a community with outside influences. When I encountered Israel, I realized that I could live Jewishly in a more full-time manner, in a place where the calendar synced up with my Jewish life, the surroundings resonated with me through the ages of Jewish history and where I was sure the future for Jews was being built. This is what attracted me. If I had stayed in America, I’m sure I could have lived a good life, but I’m not sure that the excitement, the meaning, the community and the sheer fun would have been quite the same.

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