The GIGA team: Guy Katz (FOM), Morten Edzards (SCE), Jonathan Glick, Tim Messerschmidt and Katharina Lindenthal (both Google), from left. Photo: Consulate General of Israel in Munich

“Germans and Israelis complement each other”

The „German-Israeli Growth Accelerator“ (GIGA) connects the startup scenes of Munich and Tel Aviv. We spoke with Jonathan Glick, Vice Consul General of Israel, who hosts the program on the Israeli side.

GIGA enables ten young professionals and students from Germany and ten from Israel to develop their own business idea and present it to investors in Tel Aviv. The program is initiated by  Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship (SCE), FOM Hochschule and the Consulate General of Israel in Munich. Google supports the initiative.

Dear Mr. Glick, what do you expect from the German-Israel Growth Accelerator (GIGA)?

We are optimistic, but rational. We expect three main outcomes from our first batch of GIGA:

  1. At least one startup finishing the program and continuing working on an international level;
  2. Startups which have graduated the program but do not succeed in continuing the work on the product to continue to a new venture/startup. Once you get the entrepreneurial bug, you are in it for life!;
  3. Proving the great potential in the combination of the German and Israeli entrepreneurial minds.

“Cybersecurity will continue to boom”

In which fields and industries do you see the greatest potential for disruptive startup companies in the coming years?

“Years” is a very long period of time in the startup world, I won’t commit to years 🙂 but my prediction is for the near future. I believe that Cybersecurity is booming and will continue to boom, both because the existing world is facing more and more cyber threats, and also because the existing world is changing — more and more devices are being connected, and therefore more and more data is being aggregated, needing protection.

This leads to the next field — AI and Big-Data. The more devices are connected to the internet and generating data, the more analysis will be relevant. The difference between raw data and value is analysis and AI.

Are there any insights from the existing program “Bavaria Israel Partnership Accelerator” (BIPA) GIGA can benefit from?

GIGA is the next step after BIPA. During BIPA, young professionals and students “get the feel” of the startup world, GIGA takes them to the next level, to the metaphoric finish line — true entrepreneurship. Our main insight from BIPA is that Germans and Israelis are very different, but this same set of traits that set us apart, make us a great team. Following BIPA, we believe that Germans and Israelis complement each other and create winning teams in the long-run.

International ambiance

What do the startup cities Tel Aviv and Munich have in common? How can the startup scenes in the two cities benefit from each other?

Being a Tel Avivian and now a Münchner, I believe the greatest trait the two cities have in common is the international ambiance. Both Munich and Tel Aviv have plenty of international influence due to the fact that both cities are economic centers which attract many expats. This multicultural and international atmosphere promotes diversity and entrepreneurship.

I think that Tel Aviv can benefit from Munich because of the industrial power in Munich and its surroundings. I believe Munich can benefit from Tel Aviv’s very developed ecosystem and the general Israeli risk-taking atmosphere.

Besides GIGA and BIPA – How do you think Israeli and German companies can tighten their bonds further?

On the German side, I believe that Mittelstand companies have much to benefit from Israeli innovation. Mittelstand companies dominate the German and many times, the international market because they make great products. I believe that by exploring Israeli innovation, whether analytics companies, cyber companies or many other sectors, German Mittelstand companies will increase their edge on the market.

On the Israeli side, many Israeli startups neglect to think of Germany as a go-to market, but rather as a part of the EU as a market. I believe this concept is wrong, mainly due to the fact that Germany and DACH countries amount to 110~ million market, and also due to the strong industry potential for cooperation in Germany. The economic value of a go-to market is not limited to sales, but also to JV, joint R&D and M&A.

“Munich people have life figured out”

There clearly are some major differences between Munich and Tel Aviv in everyday lifestyle. What do you appreciate most about living in Munich? What do you miss from Israel?

What I love about Munich is that it is stress-free. Traffic is very light, personal safety is very high and the parks! The other day I met an Israeli that phrased it well — Munich people have life figured out.

What I miss in Tel Aviv is the food and the beach. Tel Aviv has become to be a very culinary city and the possibilities are endless. Tel Aviv street food is great, give it a try!

Thank you very much for the interview!