Farewell Brunch!

I cannot belive that I am writing my final Academic Entry for this trip. While today is not a company visit it is a close on what has been an amazing field study. We as a class have learned so much and been so busy. I have enjoyed every minute of it because the companies have been all very interesting. I have to say when you go on one of these trips you do not expect to enjoy every visit and I can honestly say I did.

The brunch today was nice and in a beautiful area. It is Friday and that is the day by the port that they have the open air markets. When we walked into the restaurant we were seated at a long table. Pace Alumni slowly trickled in and we all took our seats.  I was lucky enough to be sitting near Ayla for the beginning of brunch who is responsible for helping Prof. Bachenheimer with some of the great visits. She is a very interesting person. It was nice to have a little time to chat with her on a more casual basis.

All the Alumni we met were interesting but it was especially neat to meet a General in the Israeli Army. Especially since most Israeli’s do not make a career out of the army. It was interesting to meet someone who has made a career out of it and achieved such a high rank.

The Alumni Present were:

  • Ilan Aisic
  • Eran Frenkel
  • Eric Klein
  • Yorman Levinson
  • General Avi Mizrahi

I would like to take this forum to personally thank them all for coming and making our farewell brunch a success.


Timest, Equivio, & Tel Aviv University

Today we headed over to a VC firm in order to hear presentations from Timeset and Equivio.  It was exciting to be in a firm that is in charge of investing in many great companies. The representative from the Marketing department who welcomed us did say that they do not invest in medical companies which I thought was interesting. They currently have 3 funds and are gathering money for their 4th fund.

Timeset CEO Noam Band was very interesting he laid out important things that are required of people when starting a start-up. For example he said that people generally come to work for start-ups because they are there for the idea and the potential to do something great. In addition he did mention that people do come to work for start-ups for the potential of stock options and becoming wealthy but he felt that people were more vested in the idea then the possibility of getting rich. Which is something I belive to an extent.

Equivio CEO was also very interesting. His company is a completely revolutionary idea. He takes the lengthy part of the discovery process in the legal field and makes it a much more manageable process. This then cuts down on billable hours and allows the discovery process to be focused on what is relevant to the case or issue at hand. I found this work to be very interesting because he addressed a problem that is very prevalent in the corporate sector. That is legal fees. These fees especially with massive law suits can cause financial strains on even the largest companies. Here companies will be willing to pay for this software because it will help them cut costs in other areas. So in order to save money the companies will have to buy the products which is a perfect position for Equivio to be in.

Tel Aviv University was a great stop. It was fun walking around the campus and it has an amazing view of all of Tel Aviv since it sits on top of a hill. When we walked into class we sat down and it felt very natural. The desks are narrower than at Pace and the space in between the next desk and my chair were tighter but all in all pretty similar. Ayla soon arrived and I have to say when you are in a different University it is always nice to see a famillar face. We introduced ourselves to some of the students and made ourselves comfortable for the Presentation.

Ayla Introduced us formally to her class and also introduced us to Ed Mlavsky. Ed was a very interesting man he spoke allot about the success of the companies in Israel and why certain dynamics do not work in the Israeli culture. He said that you should never hire an American CEO to run and Israeli company even if it has been bought by another American Company. He said it never works. While I agree the cultures are very different I am not sure that I would say never for example look at Fredric D. Price he has been the CEO of many successful Israeli companies.

Then it was time for Prof Bachenheimer to speak to the class.  He spoke to us about Entreprenuership and what it really means to be entrepreneurial. He gave an example of the a pill bottle that one recives from the pharamacy. He then explains that people have a hard time reading the pill bottle. So he asked the question why is it done this way? Is it because this is the way that it has always been done. Target decided to do the research figure out the best possible bottle type that addresses all the problems at hand. It was with entreprenuerail spirt that they saw a problem and challenge it and fixed it for the better. It was a very interesting example and I think it really hit home with all the students in the class.

(I always think that examples like this are the best way to make a point in a lecture especially a great way to engage the students instead of just talking at them)

After the lectures were over it was time to mingle for a few with students. It was interesting hearing about their lives in Tel Aviv and what jobs they hoped to have one day.  After we were done it was time to get back on the bus and head back to the Dizenegoff Suites.

As I am sure you know by now Eli was waiting for us to takes us home!!

As of now the ACADEMIC PORTION of the trip has ended!! It has truly been a great week!

Ashkelon Desalination Plant, Ormat Industries Ltd, & Objet Geometries

This morning it was time to go to the south of Israel and visit some really interesting companies. One of them being the Askelon Desalination Plant. Eli got a little lost today but have no fear he got us exactly where we needed to be in the end.

When we arrived those of us with internet sell service looked at how close we were to Gaza. We asked ourselves on the bus if we are this close to Gaza why would Israel want a desalination plant here since it is supposed to be such a volatile area. We decided to table our question and wait untill after the presentation.

This plant was built-in as a BOT (Build Operate Transfer) between Violia, IDE and the Israel government.  The contract that Violia and IDE have to run it expires in 2027.

It was a very interesting set up they have because Violia is a french energy company and IDE is an Israeli company that has been dealing with desalination for the past 40 years.

Some fun facts:

  • 15 Percent of Israel’s Water Source Comes from this Plant
  • 30 Percent of all Israel’s Water comes from desalination
  • In 40 years 80 percent of Israel’s water will come from desalination
  • Government is paying 80 Cents Per 250 Gallons
  • Consumer is paying 2.00 per 250 Gallons
  • Pump takes up to 60 percent of plants energy
  • They have the lowest price in the world for desalinated water

Their Process:

  1. Pumping Sea Water
  2. Pre Treatment
  3. High Pressure  Boosters
  4. Sea Water Reverse Osmosis
  5. Post Treatment

After we learned about the plant and the desalination process it was time for our tour. We were instructed that there were no photos to be taken and we adhered to that as hard as it might have been for some. We saw all the filters and how they work. We saw the different process in which they come in from. We also learned that they add limestone to water to help make it less pure so the body can process it better. On the tour Oshik also showed us their own power plant. They create their own energy from the process of desalination and that helps power the plant. They actually make excess energy and sell it. This makes them more efficient then most desalination plants because they never have to wait on oil especially if there is conflict with the Arab state they are getting it from.

One our tour was over we were allowed to try the water which was fun especially after hearing about it for so long. It tasted great!!

Now it was time to leave Ashkelon and make our way to ORMAT Industries. Here once we arrived we were met by a nice lady who showed us to the conference room where Founder Lucien Bronicki was waiting for us. He is interesting because he started tis business because he wanted to build a sustainable company. The fact that he started this kind of company 47 years ago is mind blowing.   He said it started from being in Israel where they were a small country with big country problems.

The inital focus of his company was on Solar Power/Solar Energy.  They then moved onto Geothermal pools which utilizes the ground and water to help naturally heat and cool creating energy between the two. (I have to admit that the exact process still confuses me a little so sorry if anything here is not 100 percent)

He said now a days they own 1/3 of their plants and for those plants they sell the energy. The other 1/3 is privately owned now which at one time used the same BOT system mentioned above. The last 1/3 are owned by other companies I believe and then they operate them. There were also other kind of partnerships mixed in there as well.

Mr. Bronicki also was very interesting because he told us about how they started vocational training schools to help the surrounding area in which his company is located. This way they would be able to recruit some of the students to work for them but in addition help better the locals for jobs in an industry. They are said to have a very long waiting list and that the students that are expected are highly qualified but they obviously cannot higher every graduate. So he sees this more as a way to give back to the community instead of a branch of his company.

After hearing the very interesting lecture by Mr. Bronicki it was time to head to Objet! This I have to say was one I was looking forward to!

As we were heading over to Objet I was still so curious how they print models!? I mean it does not make sense how they can print a prototype and one that can be made out of similar material to the one that will be produced.

As we headed to Object Justine gave us a briefing about the company and the types of products it had. When we went into the meeting I was fully prepared and excited to understand how this all works.

In the begging the explained the process and I was still very confused. Then I raised my hand and said I am sorry but I still just do not understand how you can print these models and have them come out as 3-D Objects.  Igal Zeitun was the one who answered my question and I am so glad that I did ask. He explained it like a regular print but instead of ink the material coming out of the machine is a liquid version of whatever type product they want. (Ex Liquid rubber, plastic Etc) Then as it is slowly put on piece by piece there is a lamp that dries the material creating slowly an actually figure. Once he was done explaining this to me It was mind-blowing how innovative this product is. I could not even wrap my head around the idea of what they were doing before he explained it like that.

Finally after all the explanations and descriptions of the company it was time to actually see them in action. This was great because it was exactly what Zeitun said it was. It was amazing to see as well the difference phases and different type of machines that they had going. He explained to us that they only have these machines printing for purely R & D purposes. They do not do any of the model printing themselves. They only sell the machines to companies that would need to be able to make these kinds of models. ( And so far this business model has been good to them)

Fun Facts:

  • 1998 Started
  • 2001 Europe Office Opened
  • 2005 China Office Opened
  • 2006 US Office Opened
  • 2009 Material Plant Moved to new larger premises
  • 2011 Launched Objet 260 Comex- First office compatible multi printer
  • Industries largest per capita in R & D
  • 100 distribution Centers World Wide
  • Proven Great Customer Service

Three Types of Prints:

  1. Conceptual
  2. Design Verification
  3. Functional

Once it was time to leave it was sad because this was such an amazing visit but I was so happy that I had gotten the chance to visit Objet. Both Gilad Bet-Halevi and Igal Zeitun were so nice and so hopeful with all of our questions. So far this has been my favorite visit!!(But I still have loved the others)

Now it was time to head back and as always Eli was waiting for us!!

Chiasma & Omrix Biopharmaceuticals

Today we are on are way back to Jerusalem. This time we are headed here to see some companies. Fred Price was nice enough to put together a panel for us in his company Chiasma’s Conference room. Fred spoke to us in New York City before our trip and had been one of the most interesting guest lectures I have seen at a University in a long time.

Arriving at Chiasma it is funny to note that not much has changed since the beginning of the trip. It seems that everyone in the class sits in the same seats on the bus and also sits in similar  seats in the multiple different conference rooms we have been in. So far we have seen some interesting companies and some amazing sights.  I have to say personally so far this is one of the best Travel Courses I have been on.

At Chiasma We were greeted by the panel of 5. Not that we are supposed to pick favorites in these things but the person I enjoyed the most was the moderator Dr. Dalia Megiddo. If you were thinking something but could not put it into words she could, and if a person was explaining something wrong she would correct them. A very intelligent person it was nice having her there to make sure we stayed on track and that our questions were answered directly.

Dr. Megiddo started us off with a brief description of what has made Israel a place where innovation can succeed. She went over Military and government programs that in the last 20 to 30 years have really helped produce these innovative start-ups. In addition to that she asked questions to the audience about why we though Israel had been so succesful. The standard answer among students was the military but she also went on to explain how government programs have played a huge role as well.

The many panelists were very interesting but one that stood out to me was CEO Steven Eitan. His company Exalenz is a breathing system that is able to test liver function. It is a very interesting machine because it cuts down on the wait time that occurs when people generally test their liver function. For example normally a person would have blood taken, then it would go to the lab, next it would be processed, and then returned back to the doctor’s office. This whole process could take up to 10-11 Days. With this Machine it takes less than an hour. The test is administered and then the results are printed in a ticker nearby. Then the physician can read it right on the spot. This is a great invention because I know for myself there have been many times when all I wanted was the test results right away but I was forced to wait over a week. Here Mr Eitan has clearly identified a problem and he is trying to fix it with his innovative product.

In addition to his presentation being very interesting the students and professors got into a very interesting dialog about marketing and how to target certain segments in the US. One of the students even mentioned trying to put these machines in Pharmacies as a way of getting consumers used to these machines and feeling comfortable using them. Especially in places like New York where many of the Duane Read’s have Nurse Practitioner on duty it could be very easy to administer the test there and even get the results all while at the Pharmacy.

After the panel we were lucky enough to get a tour of the Chiasma R & D center and testing labs. It was very interesting and we all had to put on gowns in order to keep the lab clean. I am personally not a fan of seeing mice or rats in cages being tested on but it is a necessity when testing these types of vital drugs. In addition the man giving us the tour explained how what they were being exposed to was just examining something very mild. It was nothing that would change the way they look, behave, or live. For me at least I felt that was allot more humane.

Now it was time for lunch. We all moved onto a falafel place near our next company Omrix. It was really good and I enjoyed  getting something small to help tide me over for later. These lunches have been an interesting experience because we have been eating truly authentic food that tastes really good. After today I have to say I feel completely emersed in the culture.

Eli our driver then picked us up after lunch and drove us over to Omrix’s headquarters. Omrix is now owned by Johnson & Johnson. We were greeted by some of the nicest people yet. They offered us all coffee and tea and welcomed us into their conference room. (this is not to say the other companies did not do the same this company as of to date was just exceptionally warm)

The presentation was led by John Gethin a very funny and interesting man. He gave a very in-depth description of exactly what the company will be doing when it is fully in production and the process it has taken the company to get to this point. He went onto explain some very graphic situations in which a person would use Biopharmaceuticals. For example excess bleeding they have a patch that is sawn on and the organism help stop and heal the body and naturally disengrate not harming the body. I found this absolutely fascinating considering how unique an idea it is. (At least from anything I have ever heard of)

While this is not my field of expertise I did enjoy the presentation and getting to know the process in which it takes to bring a company like this to full production.(which they are almost at)

Something that was also interesting about this visit was how they explained transitioning to a major corporation was. They seem very found of their new parent company Johnson & Johnson but there is always a learning curve going from being the decision maker to now having 3 or 4 layers above them before something can be approved. I asked them how that effects their business and they seemed to think it effected it only in corporate environment and culture. It did not seem to have an effect on their R & D and innovation. They did allude that having to get approval to do certain things can sometimes make fixing an issue a longer process instead of just fixing it as soon as it is brought to their attention.

After and interesting Q & A we moved onto the tour. Which was a lot of fun we all took pictures in our gowns and had a good laugh. It was interesting to see the plant and all the steps that they have to go through in order to be approved by the FDA and European Union Drug Administration.(Especially because these things are produced from human blood)

Some fun Facts:

  • Johnson & Johnson Paid 400 Million to buy the company
  • They cannot work on the sabbath (which hurts their production)
  • Cash Rich Company
  • Spend Allot of Money on R & D

After that visit was over it was time to go back to the old city. It was so beutiful to be back here. I went and purchased a souvenir for my boss at home and went back to The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. It was much less crowded to day and I was able to get up close to many of the special sites that I had a harder time getting to over the weekend. It was fun and we got some great Pictures. I went and visted the wailing wall again in order to bless my bosses gift. (I hope she likes it)

Then it  was time to depart in head back to Tel Aviv It was time for a good nap on the bus and I felt refreshed when we got back!

Itamar Medical & ISCAR

Today we headed up to the North of Israel. Everyone piled into our van with Eli our driver. By now we have all grown to love Eli and his sense of humor and great driving.

Our first stop on the way up north was to Itamar Medical. Here we met Alya and proceeded to go into the meeting with Giora Yaron. This meeting was interesting because he gave us a background of Israel before we started talking about this company specifically. He mentioned how high-tech started in Israel and what specific government and culture factors lead to this success.

In his presentation he described the importance of having once lived in the Silicon Valley in the United States and how through recessions and job losses foreigners had been displaced back to their original countries. This then brought great talent home to these countries in which they were able to innovate and implement these systems in their country.

He also spoke about the rise of  R & D centers being put into “CHINDIA” He spoke about how culture norms have actually hurt them in some of these countries. Especially In India where it is a sign of disrespect to report a problem because you are challenging the effectiveness of your manager. He then later went onto say because of this you are seeing companies move back to countries like Israel.

After a detailed outline of the Israel High Tech market Mr. Yaron spoke to us about his products. The one that I found most fascinating was the ability to detect sleep apnea from a finger monitor.

The problem with most sleeping test is that you have to go into a sleep center and sleep there while people watch you. In addition certain equipment used can actually cause discomfort and help deter a person from sleeping. Then if all of those factors due not go wrong their is always the possibility that while a sleep a person being tested will knock out the equipment from tossing and turning.

Itamar solved a problem and it is being widely used to help perform sleep tests. The finger monitor is worn like a watch with a finger tip cover in order to read a patients breathing and oxygen levels. The patient can administer this test at home in their comfort of their own bed. This proves for a much higher success rate since the patient is much more comfortable in their own bed and there is very little chance of knocking the equipment out.

Now it was time to head further North In Israel so we can get to ISCAR. I was personally excited about ISCAR because it was the company that I choose to do my research paper on. I knew going into this that they are the #1 Tool Manufacturer in the world and that Warren Buffet had purchased a controlling stake in the company in 2006.  What I did not completely understand was what exactly they make. They make extremely complex tools and even some of the journals about the company were meant for experts in the field. I understand that their customers were major factories that were building things like cars, planes, and other manufacturing goods. What I did not know was how do they get these customers and how do they truly service them in order to retain them year after year.

My Questions were definitely answered while on this visit. We sat down to a video in the conference room where it explained where one could find ISCAR products and how all their products get all over the world. It was fascinating! It felt like almost everything that involved metal-cutting had most likely been done by and ISCAR tool. In addition most of the cars on the road have ISCAR tools built into them. (WOW)

The visit was extremely informative and we talked allot about customer service and retention of customers. Having an extremely advanced R & D center is crucial to ensure they keep their customer base. The customers that they are working with are interested in lowering production time and increasing precision. These things do not always go hand in hand so ISCARS’ R & D center and testing facility has to make sure they are always at the cutting edge.  While on the tour one of the ISCAR employees mentioned that when a competitors tool has a problem that is an opportunity for them to go in and show a company why their tools are better. But he mentions,  there is a flip side to this, the same thing can happen to them so we need to make sure our tools are almost never problematic.

As we walked through the factories something that was extremely important to them was the need to compete against their new products to make an even better product. They want to be the one who makes their product irrelevant not their competitors. This is such an important part of who ISCAR is because it shows their need for excellence and their need to stay innovative. They will never just be complacent once they come out with a new product. That is not what their customers expect and that is not what they plan to give them.

Something that I had found in my research and something that they reiterated in the presentation was that over 50 % of their sales are from products that were developed in the last 5 Years. And in the talks with the people at ISCAR they said it is really closer to 3 Years.

That is pretty  amazing when you think of how innovative a company must be to keep it sales mainly from new products especially in an industry where things do not seem to be changing that frequently.

The experience at ISCAR was truly fascinating! I have never been inside a factory like that and to be able to see the amount of technology used to create these tools was just mind-blowing. They have robots that use sensors that take the tools from one production step to the next. These robots can even leave one building it looks like and go into another. How Cool!?

After we finished with the tour of the actual facility we moved onto the Industrial Park. Where we were to watch a video on the importance of the Industrial Parks and how they have the potential to change people’s fate from poverty to prosperity. It  is an interesting concept that has seem to work well for Mr. Wertheimer who was the founder of ISCAR. His vision is to change the way people live and work and to help create an environment where industry and innovation can break down the barriers of cultural and religious strains. It is an amazing vision and I look forward to see how it does in years to come.

Tel Aviv Stock Exchange & Better Place

Today has been a very interesting day.  First the class boarded the bus to go to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. We had some extra time so those that needed to exchange money stopped off at the post office while I and A few others walked to the beach. It was absolutely beautiful and it is hard to belive how nice it was since it is January 8th.

Upon Arrival of the Tel Aviv Stock exchange we were not sure what to expect. Would there be traders? Would there be a tour?

We met upon arrival Kobi Avramov. He was a very interesting and was able to answer many of our questions.

We Learned that there are over 50 Companies cross listed between the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and other stock exchanges. They have 750 Companies listed on their exchange and that number is growing. Mr. Avramov explained to us that the Tel Aviv Stock exchange became a fully automated system in 1999 which would explain that the lack of traders in the space where we were having our Presentation.

He then went into the Ownership of the exchange. There are 29 Members that own the exchange. 6 Foreign members and 1 Remote member.

The description of the remote members is what really caught my attention because it allows companies who do not want to set up the infrastructure in Isreal but still want to be a member of the exchange the option to do so. Mr. Avramov then went on to inform us that there are more remote members in the works and that we should expect to hear about them sometime in the next year.

Some fun Facts:

  • 1953 Exchange was Opened
  • Remote Member is Meryl Lynch
  • No Capital Gain Tax In Israel
  • Trading is completely Anonymous
  • 140 High Tech Companies Listed
  • Open On Sunday Closed On Saturday

As we headed to Better Place I was excited to learn more about this electric car company and to get the chance to drive one of their cars.  It was quite an impressive operation they had set up. Their Test track is located in the space where old oil reserve tanks used to be placed. Now they have actually taken one of those large tanks and turned that into their Corporate Headquarters.

We first had a brief discussion about the company from Scott Mortman & Yariv Nornberg. Then we handed our licenses to the front desk for insurance purposes and then headed into their theater to lean more about the company’s vision.

In the theater we learned exactly what Better Place is trying to accomplish and why they are determined to change the automobile industry’s reliance on oil. It is no surprise that one of the perfect countries to test this out would be Israel since the Arab States control most of the oil that powers their country.  The video went onto explain how oil is hurting our planet and it is helping fund extreme regimes. In addition Israel size also lends itself to be the perfect test before it expands to the global market.

Shai Agassi founder and CEO of Better Place spoke in the video presentation about how there is a need for innovation and change. He states that we are using the same model for cars as when they were first invented. We need to change this model and the only way to do that is to change they way we think about cars and how they run.

The part that I enjoyed the most about Better Place was how they have really thought their idea through. They are trying to change the world but they are coming up with solutions in order to let their idea progress. They want a change and they are prepared to give that change to the people that are willing to change with them.

In addition to learning about them changing the world we actually got to drive the cars which was so much fun!! The car accelerated really well and you could barely hear it!!   I was in David and Daniels group to test drive the car.  I was a little nervous at first to see how they were both going to drive but they both did great and we all enjoyed ourself.

After the Test Drive we went back into their offices and learned a little bit more about their car and their vision from Scott Mortman & Yariv Nornberg. I really appreciate all the time they took to answer our questions and to help educate us on their mission.


Trip To The Old City

Today was our First Official group activity and we went to Jerusalem. In all the places that I have traveled to I never thought that I would make it there. I do  not know why but it always seemed like a place I would never actually get to see. The bus ride from the Dizengoff Suites to Jerusalem was fun, it was a time for the students to get to know each other a little better.  I was so excited to get to the Old City that last night I made sure my Camera and phone were fully charged so that I would not miss a thing.

Our Guide met us at a hotel right outside of Jerusalem. We were then whisked away for a history and culture lesson unlike any before. She showed us all the different states and where all the different religious quarters were in the old city. She showed us from a far first in order to give us a background of exactly what we were going to be seeing once we got into the old city. After quite a long lecture it was time to go see the Dead Sea Scrolls. It was amazing to belive that these are the oldest biblical scrolls left on this earth.

After the Museum in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were located it was time to move on into the Old City. The Old City was majestic and amazing. It felt like we had stepped into movie Aladdin one of the Students said during the tour. The part that was truly amazing for me was the energy present in this city. It was almost a little bit eerie because it felt so powerful. I am not sure if it was the religious spirits all circled in this one area or the power of the believers all here on a religious pilgrimage. All I know is that it was extremely powerful! And unlike anything I have ever felt!!

The City was amazing and our Tour Guide really showed us everything we wanted to see and then some. In addition she took us to an amazing restaurant for lunch with truly authentic food. I think we were all little skeptical when we sat down but after we finished eating we were all believers that this food was really something special. (See Picture Bellow)

David and I stayed back in Jerusalem since his parents were staying in a hotel nearby and had dinner with them. It was a treat to walk back into the old city at night after the Sabbath was over because everyone came out to play and be social which was a unique experience.