Undergraduate students began their trip in Tel Aviv, Israel. 

Twenty Northeastern University students recently visited Israel as part of the Dialogue of Civilizations: Entrepreneurship and Global Consulting in Israel. The cross-disciplinary group of students landed in Tel Aviv and traveled around the country, mixing historical sightseeing with innovative work and learning in the startup space.

“While the first year was a pilot and involved five students, the second year involved 20 participants. Students got fantastic exposure to the booming Israeli ecosystem of innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as to the Israeli culture, history and social fabric. They made life long experiences and friendships. Especially of value were their ties with Israeli students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev who partnered with us on this program,” said Amir Grinstein, D'Amore-McKim School of Business associate professor of marketing and trip leader.

One of the first stops of the trip was at Intel Corporation in Kiryat, Gat Israel, where students learned about innovation in manufacturing, as well as talent acquisition and diverse hiring practices. The group also visited Airobotics, a rising startup in the drone industry and JVP, a top venture capital firm. These visits instilled in students a better understanding of the startup culture and how entrepreneurship can thrive under the right conditions.

Northeastern students pose for a photo at Intel.

“The entrepreneurial spirit in the startup Nation is very unique. How Israelis view entrepreneurship, startup projects, and how they start a project are different. Bravery, perspective, close collaborations, open-mindedness, and crazy, are probably words that I would describe the startup culture there,” said Manting Hong, DMSB'21. “And I do believe these are five factors that increase the possibility of successfully launch a business. The way of looking at each project in an “ecosystem” way is something that enhanced my business mindset the most, and I'm bringing it back to my startup. With all experiences in Israel, I believe it will help me to grow my startup in the following months.”

In addition to visiting well-established startups, students also had the opportunity to work directly with seven startups in collaboration with students from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. As part of the management consulting piece of the dialogue, students worked with one another to solve issues and create a plan for a more successful future for their assigned businesses.

“Bringing together participants from different schools and specializations such as engineering, entrepreneurship, computer science, finance, international affairs, and marketing was also a unique feature of this program. This offered students the opportunity to work in cross-functional teams, addressing startup dilemmas from different perspectives but also posed challenges students needed to address like different motivations and interests or different knowledge bases,” said Grinstein.

Students were able to hear from many different startup sectors during their time in Israel. Students pictured here are at  JVP, a leading VC in Israel.

Below, Caroline Ingram, DMSB'21, describes her experience working with the startups and fellow students from both universities.

“The dialogue was set up so that Northeastern students would be paired with students from Ben-Gurion University. Those cross-cultural teams were then assigned to a particular startup team/entrepreneur, who had their own assignment request of the student team,” said Ingram. “When we first arrived, we got to hear pitches from all the entrepreneurs which I thought was really fascinating and helpful. We heard a background synopsis of their product/service and then got some insight into what they were currently struggling with or focusing on and how they hoped the student teams could assist them in a particular area,” she said.

“I was assigned to the Visual Estate team, which is a virtual reality technology platform that aides real estate developers in the selling process to display comprehensive, detailed, and realistic “show” apartments to potential buyers. The technology allows the user to upload a floorplan of the apartment that is to be sold and the technology is able to bring that floorplan to life with different themed design styles in as little as two minutes. My team was tasked with creating a market entry report for the Visual Estate team as they aimed to penetrate the U.S. market after developing a presence in Israel, the UK, and Russia.”

A visit to Airobotics introduced students to the world of drones.

After working with one another, students presented their findings to the seven startups.

Students presented their consulting project recommendations to the seven startups they worked with during their time in Israel.

Katherine Mirabelli, DMSB'21, believes the experiences Northeastern students had with the Israeli startups increased their knowledge of the ever-growing global business market.

“I think each team had a unique experience with their startup. Each startup was at a different stage in their development, had different levels of funding, success and not to mention were in different sectors of the market. Therefore, we all had different experiences but with the same common goal of expansion into another global market. It was wonderful seeing each startup ranging from seedlings of an idea to successful companies within Israel challenging themselves to grow,” she said.

In addition to working in the startup sphere, students also explored the historical and cultural sides of Israel. “Students traveled to Jerusalem, including The Old City, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and The Western Wall, The Dead Sea, Masada, Jaffa, and also visited a Kibbutz.”

Students had the opportunity to explore the cultural sights of Israel in addition to working with startups.

“My favorite aspect of the dialogue was the fact that the program concentrated not only on providing us with first-hand consulting experience, but also exposed us to a completely different culture and way of life as is present in Israel,” said Ingram. “I found it fascinating to see the similarities and differences of how business is conducted in Israel as compared to the U.S. and to be afforded the opportunity to immerse ourselves in Israeli culture and tradition through excursions such as attending a Shabbat dinner, seeing the Western Wall and Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and enjoying the delicious Israeli cuisine.”

Students ride a camel in the desert.

By combining historic and cultural experiences with big business and young startup visits, students were able to experience the many facets of Israel.

To find out more about learning abroad, visit Northeastern's Global Experience Office website.