Sunday, January 8, 2012

Day 3

This morning our first stop was the Tel Aviv Stock exchange.  Much like the NYSE,  the Tel Aviv exchange is now computerized so we were able to listen to a presentation on what was previously the floor of the exchange.  It was given by Kobi Avramov who is "Head of Research" at the exchange and he gave an interesting talk about the Israeli stock market, the economy, and the exchange itself.  There were many graphs and charts on the Israeli economy and I found it amazing how fast they have been growing over the past decade.  Their economy is heavily reliant on international business and it is remarkable how well they have fared over such a tumultuous time.  It seems as though the companies and businesspeople have hit their stride maturing into a strong developed economy with great potential, I am excited to see what they can accomplish in the future.
From there we went to a revolutionary Israeli car company called Better Place.  The creator of this concept is an Israeli named Shai Agassi who thought up a system for electric rechargeable cars that run only on a battery with plugs to recharge the cars wherever the cars stays overnight, whether it be at a house or corporate office.  There will also be stations around the country to exchange the battery in minutes for trips over approximately 100 miles because that is the maximum life of the lithium ion batteries.  We were shown a video in their in-office theater about the potential of the system which was great, then we were able to drive the cars which were actually quite powerful.  I hope the company does well to help lead us down the path towards global oil independence, but they certainly have a lot of work ahead of them.
The final trip of the day was to another interesting company.  This was a restaurant called Liliyot started by a hi-tech entrepreneur, turned VC, turned social entrepreneur.  The restaurant employs young people who have dropped out of school and need to gain a skill to make a living.  Liliyot trains these people in how to run a restaurant with the hope of giving them the skill to go out and get other jobs in the industry.  Social entrepreneurship is something that is also growing in Israel and throughout the world, it is great to know that we have people who put their time and effort into projects that will help others.

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