Aliyah: The Hebrew word for ‘ascent’. It is the word used to describe immigrating to Israel. People, particularly Jews, who immigrate to Israel are known as Olim Hadashim: ‘New Ascendants’ [immigrants] (Oleh [m], Olah [f]). Religiously, Israel is the promised land of the Jews. Historically, they have resided there for thousands of years. Though the Jewish people were exiled from the land of Israel throughout their long and rich history, they always managed to make their way back. In modern times, movements of Jews started immigrating back to Israel at the end of the 19th century, and continue to do so today, the height of which was right before, during, and after the Holocaust. To this day, tens of thousands of Jews from across the globe make Aliyah– be it to escape antisemitism and persecution, fulfil their call to Zionism, or simply feel the need for a change of scenery. Since the establishment of the state in 1948, over 3,340,000 have made aliyah.

With such a diverse population quite literally coming from all corners of the earth, it goes without saying that Israel can accomplish so much, especially in the realm of tech. When people who have different mindsets and native cultures come together to work toward a common goal, the outcomes are astounding, and this is most prevalent in Israel’s startup ecosystem. Therefore, it is no wonder that Israel ranked number 1 most innovative economy in Northern and Western Asia by the Global Innovation Index, and 16th globally.

In honour of World Aliyah Day, we sat down with some of the startup nation stars who have immigrated to Israel to learn how this process has given them an edge to make it big in the thriving tech scene of Israel.

Jeremy Lustman, Head of DLA Piper’s Israel Country Group

DLA Piper is a global law firm with lawyers located in more than 40 countries throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, positioning us to help clients with their legal needs around the world. In 2009 Jeremy Lustman, who was a partner in the firm's U.S office, made Aliyah from Baltimore to Israel and started to build the firm's practice in Israel. Today, The DLA Piper Israel country group represents over 150 Israeli companies and investors in over 30+ countries throughout the world. Among the firm's tech Israel-based clients you can find: Amdocs, Wix,, JFrog, Moonactive, AppsFlyer, Aeronautics Group, Cellebrite, Check Point, and Fiverr.

Jeremy is known as the start-up nation’s "Ultimate Matchmaker.” As the firm works with many Israeli companies and their investors, he has introduced many acquisition targets and investment opportunities to potential investors and opened doors for many of his clients to resource internationally for business growth.

Jeremy and his wife had wanted to be spending more time in Israel, which is why they decided to move. It also allowed him to establish a presence in the country for his firm. Having grown up on the East Coast in the United States to a Jewish family, there were certain traditional career paths to go down, and law was one of them. “I was interested in law early on, in part, because there were great television shows that were legal dramas. What I was always taught was that law opens many doors for you. Law can open more and more doors to business.” And that it did, as he used it as an entry point to succeed here in Israel: “Today, I enjoy helping Israeli companies and clients grow their businesses more proactively."

Having grown up abroad, coupled with the process of making Aliyah has taught Jeremy some valuable lessons: “Within the Israeli ecosystem, I have learnt that it is necessary to demonstrate value quickly– it helps create trust early on…late 2008 and early 2009 was a trying time, with markets crashing globally. It was the first time I truly felt vulnerable in my career, which I then exacerbated by deciding to make Aliyah; I decided to risk failure and came to Israel to set up the practice for the law firm I had worked for in the US, with no idea if it would be successful."

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

"In the Israeli ecosystem, you have to recognize that people are going to tell you how they feel quickly. There are challenges to that because if they're not happy with you -if they don't like you or see your value - you'll know that quickly. The positive aspect of this is that it forces you right away to demonstrate your value. By doing just that, you can demonstrate your ability to add to a business or person which creates a level of trust and comfort early on."

Valeria Kogan, CEO, and founder of Fermata

Fermata, founded in 2020, provides Machine Vision solutions for agriculture by combining industry-leading artificial intelligence with off-the-shelf digital camera technology. Fermata is a robust, yet affordable way to detect pests and disease, and alerts the farmer of said issues before it gets out of hand. By scanning crops 24/7, Fermata ensures health and pathogen-free plants and thus reduces crop loss, and the need for pesticides or chemical use. Having already closed 2 million euros, with another round on its way, Fermata’s product is used by Intelicanna (Israel), Mariwell (Canada), HighGrade (USA), Decibel (Canada), GreenTech (Azerbaijan), and others.

Valeria made Aliyah from Russia in 2021, after living in Israel for 3 years as a Ph.D. student. Her time here made her fall in love with the country as it truly felt like home to her. So, she decided to make Aliyah and continue her career here in Israel, though the process has not always been easy.

“My first interaction with the Israeli startup ecosystem was pretty stressful. I still remember the first event I went to–the Agrivest Conference for AgTech. I was absolutely shocked by the level of competition and professionalism I saw there. The AgTech industry in Israel had absolutely nothing to do with startup communities I've been to before. It made me doubt my capabilities at first, but then I thought if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere. And I did. What an honour it was to become a finalist of the Women of Agri-Food Nation competition two years later, represent Israel in European Forbes 30 under 30 list, and be a featured startup at the Agrivest Conference this fall.”

“It was crazy how supportive everyone was with me making Aliyah. All my business partners and clients in Israel encouraged me to take this step. It's never easy to move to a new place, but I believe that living in different countries and experiencing the diversity in the world, especially in a country like Israel, where you meet people with completely different religions and backgrounds, helps you define who you really are.”

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

“My main piece of advice would be to not be afraid to expose yourself to new people. You might still be bad at Hebrew and not know a single person, but Israel is so great because a lot of people are ready to welcome you. Do not narrow yourself down to communities speaking your language; be bold to integrate as much as possible with the amazing people of Startup Nation.”

Kevin Natanzon, Co-founder, and CEO if CreatorKit

CreatorKit is an A.I. video creator helping businesses reduce costs and increase performance with video tools powered by AI. Marketing teams need to create more video content than ever before, but businesses can’t justify increasing headcount and resources. CreatorKit's online video editor enables marketing teams to create videos in minutes, without needing designers. Founded in 2020 by Kevin Natanzon (CEO) and Carlos Vega (CTO), the company works remotely, and employees are distributed across Israel, Italy, Argentina, and Uruguay.

“I made Aliyah from Uruguay in 2019. One of the main reasons was the startup ecosystem. The Uruguayan ecosystem is growing fast, but nothing compares to the Startup Nation. As a startup founder, making Aliyah exposed me to many opportunities I’d be missing otherwise. I strongly believe that talent is everywhere, but opportunities are not. This also gives us an edge, as we leverage our network in Uruguay and Argentina to hire the best talent remotely without competing with the world’s biggest startups. I think of our employees as “diamonds in the rough'', since they have great talent but hadn't been exposed to the opportunities that Israel and other first-world countries provide until now.”

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

“My advice to new Olim is that they’ll need to choose wisely how to use their time, energy, and chutzpah [Yiddish word for audacity] – I encourage using it exclusively to create value, instead of wasting it on pointless daily fights.”

Jon Rathauser, Co-Founder and Chief Egg Officer of Eggmented Reality

As food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers seek to meet consumer demand for vegan, non-genetically modified (GM) and environmentally friendly food products, they lose functionality (i.e., gelling, binding, foaming) traditionally afforded by animal-sourced proteins. Current replacements are expensive, functionally unstable, unhealthy, or affected by taste, smell, and texture. To make matters worse, recent geopolitical and supply chain interruptions have highlighted the need for countries to implement food security strategies.

Eggmented Reality combines novel computing techniques with precision fermentation to produce functional proteins that outperform alternatives. They help F&B manufacturers meet consumer demands (vegan, non-GM, environmentally friendly, etc.) and achieve their ESG commitments without sacrificing performance. The company’s first product is an egg and methyl cellulose-functional replacement. Founded in February 2022 as a collaboration between Fresh-Start, its partners – Tnuva, Tempo, Finistere VC, OurCrowd – and Migal, Eggmented Reality is led by a team of scientists: Dr. Itamar Yadid (co-founder), Itai Bloch (co-founder), Jon Rathauser (co-founder), and Dr. Helit Rozen (CTO).

Jon Rathauser is from Princeton, New Jersey (United States). He moved to Israel in 2013 to play for the Israeli National Lacrosse Team and get his MBA from The Technion: “While lacrosse roped me in, it’s the startups that made me stay.”

“Israel definitely has an ecosystem that’s supportive of growing ideas and founding companies. I remember being fascinated by the willingness of founders I would meet to take a risk in pursuing their venture. It was an inspiring ecosystem to be a part of. I’ve definitely taken advantage of what the startup ecosystem has to offer. I also credit my sports background and having led college and national lacrosse teams to national and international championships and medals. The competition is the final product but it’s a long, difficult journey of persistence, collaboration, refinement, and execution that allows a sports team, or a startup, to be successful.”

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

“'Making it big' will not be the goal for everyone. Success, however, or achieving your goals, no matter how big or small, is a process. Anything in life worthwhile requires effort and persistence. Winning a sports competition, raising an investment, getting a job, speaking Hebrew…I f you only look at the outcome you’ll miss someone’s hard work that made it possible: the countless practices, injuries and missed shots; the countless unsuccessful investor pitches and refinement of a business plan; the cover letters, networking coffees, interview practice; the incorrect gender, terrible accent and shiruey bayit. There are no shortcuts or substitutes for hard work. You just have to get started!"

Nathan Cavaglione, Co-founder, and CTO of Fairgen

Historical data is currently being used by many organizations to train AI-based decision models. Such historical data is inevitably biased because it was collected in a biased society where discriminations exist. This is why AI models today are biased, which leads to a vicious circle where the use of AI augments discrimination at scale. Fairgen, founded in 2021, targets this long-standing problem with its data debiasing platform. Its technology, which is powered by AI and synthetic data generation, can remove demographic biases from datasets. It thereby meets the ever-growing need for fair data and algorithms.

Nathan Cavaglione grew up in Nice, France, but made Aliyah from London where he spent his university years. “While in university, I was fascinated by Israel's tech scene and organized sponsored student trips every year with Samuel Cohen (my co-founder), for non-Jews to go and witness the high-tech scene for themselves.”

“When I graduated in 2018, I immigrated to Israel and started my journey at the Israel Tech Challenge (ITC), a data science boot camp that really helped me to integrate. I met friends and contacts and learned about the Israeli work culture. Ultimately, my teacher there hired me as the 1st engineer of his newly founded start-up. After three years there, Samuel joined me in Israel to found Fairgen. Our first batch of employees was hired directly from ITC, and so the cycle continued.”

“Growing up in France taught me the importance of customer service: how to treat customers like royalty and leave them as satisfied as possible. He gave me an edge on how I handle customer relationships today. On the other hand, when building a startup, your network plays a huge role, as you need help and expertise from people across the board. Being from a foreign country meant my network in Israel was small and mostly restricted to my personal profession (AI and software). Luckily, I took part in the Nevo Network program, which put me in contact with a diverse group of professionals, which helped me greatly.”

“On the other hand, it was my international network that I had built abroad that helped me find customers and investors. Most Israeli startups start locally and scale globally in later rounds. We are already a global company due to our international team of employees, investors, and customers. And of course, the education I attained from the Imperial College London was top-notch, and still gets me through my engineering difficulties today.”

“As for the lessons I learnt throughout my Aliyah journey, I would say my hands-on experience [working at Datagen] taught me to build products the Israeli way: stop worrying, aim to build tech that no one thinks is possible, deliver fast, and clean up the mess later. Experiencing this in action, every day really taught me the concept of it all.”

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

“Work hard, stay consistent, and exceed expectations. Focus on where you can have the greatest impact. As an Oleh, don't be afraid to start a company in Israel because you are a foreigner. Sure, it will be challenging, but you will come out stronger because of it. If anything, your experience as an Oleh will give you a leg up, since we understand what it is like to build a life here from scratch. Building a company is no different. Also, don't forget to learn Hebrew! Speaking the language fluently is important for immersing yourself in work and culture. Lastly, build yourself a strong network. This doesn't only mean good contacts, but also people who will have your back and help you when need be. Those long-lasting and trusted bonds, with both other Olim and native Israelis, will allow you to integrate deeper into the country.”

Jeremy Suard, Co-founder, and CEO of Exodigo

Credit: Exodigo

Exodigo, founded in 2020 by Jeremy Suard (CEO), Ido Gonen (CTO) and Yogev Shifman (CPO), aims to solve the challenge of underground maps. Every year, companies and governments spend more than $100 billion on excavation and drilling to discover what’s underground. But the maps they rely on are incomplete and inaccurate, leading to spiralling costs, wasted time and labour, unnecessary machinery use, avoidable damage to our planet and even loss of life. This problem affects countless industries from construction, utilities, and transportation to mining and archaeology. Exodigo has developed a subsurface mapping solution that combines advanced sensors, 3D imaging, and AI technologies to provide a clear picture of the underground, in a non-intrusive way. To date. The company has raised $35 million and has 75 employees.

Jeremy Suard grew up in France and moved to Israel at the tender age of 15, together with his family. When he arrived, he was the only French student in the class and had to learn Hebrew fast, which wasn’t easy. But after a year, he felt completely integrated into his new Israeli life and was elected to his school’s student union. He was able to graduate with honours in the IDF’s Atuda Academic Program (studying physics and computer science) and there he reached what he calls “total integration”. His accent was almost gone, and he truly felt Israeli. He then joined Intelligence Unit 81.

“I feel that growing in France, and then moving to Israel, enabled me to have a mixed culture that on the one hand leverages the Israeli ‘chutzpah’, and on the other allows me to keep the European ‘class and manners’. For me, it’s a win-win. I will say though, the best lesson I learned from growing up in France that gave me an edge in Israel is knowing good wine. Good wine will always get you a customer.”

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

“Work hard to build your own network of the top talent in the Israeli ecosystem. It can be other Olim or Israelis. That’s the key to a successful startup. Search for places with a high concentration of top talent. Whether it’s the army, at universities, wherever–Go there and rock!”

Kevin Hanna, Co-Founder and CTO at Stacked

Stacked is an HR tech startup that leverages the power of human connection to help companies hire great talent while saving thousands of dollars. Stacked was founded by Kevin Hanna (CTO), and LinkedIn’s Tal Shmueli (CEO) in 2022. The founders made it their mission to put an end to bad hires, and investments made by SXSW’s venture fund ensured they were equipped to do so.

Kevin Hanna was born in Argentina and moved to Israel in 2018. “My original plan was to come to Tel Aviv and only stay for a couple of months. But after some time passed by, it became a no-brainer: Israel was the place to be. I started the Aliyah process without ever leaving. During the few months I was here, I really discovered a new ‘me’-- a better version of myself.”

“Not knowing Hebrew and not having grown up here didn't stop me in my career, though it did lead to some delays in starting my own company, as it took me about 4 years to build a strong foundation and network, before I was confident to turn around my career, quit a safe paycheck, and become a founder.”

“But during my first years of Aliyah, I was fascinated by the concept of serendipity, and how to maximize it. I understood I was at a disadvantage on all fronts: no Hebrew, no connections from the Army or school and even no native English. I had to increase my “luck surface area” if I wanted to succeed in this new life. So, to do that, I said yes to every opportunity, embedded myself into the ecosystem, met a lot of interesting people, made some good friends, and attended events or Shabbat dinners even if I didn’t know anyone there (and that’s how I met my wife!)”

“I also ran a podcast called Hummus & Tech, which was great because it meant that I could interview successful Olim in tech and ask them anything I wanted. Though they may have started as guests, they left the studio as friends. What they shared on the show helped me tremendously, and not just me, but thousands of Olim. It became a win-win-win, a concept I’m now implementing in Stacked.”

What is your advice to other Olim trying to make it big in the startup ecosystem?

"There’s a common piece of advice for writers that says 'show, don’t tell'. If you apply that concept to your career, you’ll get unimaginable and endless opportunities. Show your skills, creativity, drive, and your point of view. Don’t just list them on your CV. How do you do so? Create something valuable. It can be anything- a post, real-life event, webinar, code library, no-code site, blog, podcast, book, community or product. Launch it. Promote it. Repeat. You’ll feel the results. And I  always love seeing this in action, so feel free to reach out to me for any advice!"